The grubby side of politics

Sam Dastyari speaks in the Senate.

Something smelly has been swirling around Canberra lately, and I am not talking about Clive Palmer’s locker at Parliament House, which hazmat teams are still trying to contain. No, I am talking about the fetid stench of parliamentary politics under capitalism.

The latest example of this was the Dastyari affair, where Labor Senator Sam Dastyari admitted accepting a donation from a company with links to the Chinese government to cover a personal debt. While the coalition proceeded to make as much hay from this as possible, throwing stones from their own house of glass, Dastyari eventually did the honourable thing (for Labor) and resigned from the shadow cabinet.
But it has again brought to light the grubby side of politics under capitalism. The Coalition is pointing the finger vigorously at Labor, but their own hands are far from clean.

During the 2013 federal election campaign, Barnaby Joyce received a $50,000 donation from Gina Rinehart for his campaign. When Rinehart showed up at Joyce’s election night party, Joyce was quoted by the ABC as saying: “When we have someone like Gina, who is an Australian, who is so different from other companies who are actually not Australian, then we should be proud of them [and] we shouldn't kick them around."

Besides living within the geographical borders of Australia, the overwhelming majority of Australians have about as much in common with Gina Rinehart as they do with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Neither should have a greater say in the running of the country than the rest of us, but it appears this is the case.

The problem is not limited to Australia. In the US Presidential elections, Hillary Clinton is facing accusations that when she was Secretary of State access to her could be “purchased” by making donations to the Clinton Foundation, a charity run by the Clintons. Donald Trump is also facing accusations of money buying access and favour, albeit from the other side of the equation. It is alleged his donations to the Attorney-General of Florida led to the dropping of investigations into Trump University.

What is happening in all these cases is democracy is being undermined and politics corrupted. It is why Green Left Weekly covers and supports the grass-roots campaigns, where communities are fighting back against corporate greed and environmental destruction. Especially since the role of most governments under capitalism is not so-much a buffer between the people and worst excesses of capitalism as a facilitator for those excesses.

But it will take more than just a tinkering of the rules surrounding political donations to make the system more equitable. It will take a concerted and conscious campaign by the 99% to fight for a system that truly represents their interests.

You can help us to continue this work by donating to the GLW Fighting Fund. You can do so by calling the toll-free number at 1800 634 206 (within Australia). Donations can also be made to Green Left Weekly, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account no. 00901992. Otherwise you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007.

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