Page 5347 - Week 14 - Thursday, 19 November 2009

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Here in the ACT the Greens clearly state in our policy platform the need for transparency and swift reporting of any political donations, and we have an item in the integrity section of the parliamentary agreement with the ALP in regard to electoral reform.

The Greens are pleased to see that other states are examining the issues of electoral reform, as it is clear that current arrangements for the financing of politics are failing to meet the basic standards required in a healthy representative democracy. Recently, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced that her government will ban political donations of more than $1,000 by mid next year, as well as outlawing “success fees” from lobbyists, as part of wide-ranging integrity and accountability improvements. New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees has followed suit by announcing last week that there will be a ban on developer donations to political parties in New South Wales. This was followed by severe criticism from the outgoing head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Jerrold Cripps QC, who condemned the relationship between property developers and the New South Wales state government. He was quoted in yesterday’s Financial Review as saying, “I don’t think anybody denies that political donations and lobbying are activities that are unmistakably conducive to corrupt conduct.”

A healthy democracy requires that diverse views are represented in parliaments, debates and campaigns. It is through the presence of different voices that new agendas can be created, that vested interests can be challenged and that governments can be held accountable. Australians are justly proud of our achievements as a nation in the field of electoral democracy. David Farrell and Ian McAllister open their definitive study, The Australian electoral system: origins, variations and consequences, by saying:

In the pantheon of representative democracy, Australia has its name stamped on many of the major advances in electoral system design as well as on the steps towards democratising electoral laws.

The Greens believe that the ACT must also look at our current arrangements in the light of these reforms and how we can improve accountability to the people of the ACT. The amendment I have moved to Mr Seselja’s motion encompasses all aspects of the way in which political donations interact with the electoral process and how reforms within the ACT could reflect changes nationally. Arrangements with regard to electoral funding should promote open, honest and accountable government and bring the constitutional idea of political equality closer to reality.

The Greens support disclosure requirements that inform voters about potential influence of donors, and public funding that preserves the significance of voters’ voices in the political process. All citizens have the right and the responsibility to participate in the process of government, and participation in democracy should not relate to the amount of money that individuals or organisations are able to donate to a political party.

The call for an inquiry is not about any specific political party or the targeting of individual candidates. Instead, the purpose is to create a fairer political environment.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video