Police raids on the Democrats
Federal police raids on the Sydney headquarters of the NSW Democrats and the home of at least one senior Democrat raise some serious questions.
What was the purpose of the excessive show of state force against the Democrats, particularly in a period leading into a new federal election? Did the circumstances really require such dramatic action? If the police needed to view particular documents, why couldn't they be subpoenaed?
(When the then secretary of the NSW branch of the ALP, Stephen Loosley, was accused and convicted of failing to make proper disclosures of donations to the party's election funding, the investigation was certainly not accompanied by Federal Police raids on the ALP's Sussex Street headquarters.)
Leaks to the media claim the raids were part of a wide-ranging investigation into possible fraud over electoral funding. According to the leaks, there are allegations that, of $490,194 refunded to the Democrats' NSW branch after the 1990 federal elections, only $250,000 had actually been spent on electoral purposes. Who is the source of these leaks? Given that no-one has been charged with a crime — let alone convicted — who stands to benefit from the public airing of these allegations against the Democrats?
With about a quarter of the electorate supporting candidates outside the two major parties, and neither Labor nor the Coalition any longer certain of gaining a majority in parliament in their own right, is it beyond belief that someone is trying to do in the Democrats with allegations that are either exaggerated or totally invented?