Page 2352 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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In the current situation where donations, including gifts in kind as defined by the Australian Electoral Commission, are used by parties throughout the political cycle, the ACT Greens, using transparent practices, will accept donations subject to ethical review. The ethical review is performed by the ACT Greens donations reference group. This group applies the Greens’ donations policy to any donation referred to it, including any donations totalling over $1,000 within a 12-month period. The Greens’ donation policy is available on our website, but I will mention key points here for the benefit of members.

The policy seeks to ensure that the values and aspirations of all donors are consistent with those encapsulated in the policies and charter of the ACT Greens. The party is able to accept donations only in support of the existing aims of the party. To be clear about this, we do not change our policy as a result of any donation. Our policies are developed and ratified by the membership of our party. The policy makes clear that the acceptance of a donation does not imply endorsement of the activities, undertakings or processes of the donor. The ACT Greens maintain transparency in donor identity by making public at the end of each three-month period all donors and the cumulative total of their donations to the ACT Greens, over the previous 12-month period, whose cumulative totals amount of $1,000 or more.

This is above and beyond the requirements of the ACT Electoral Commission, and it is above and beyond the standards that either the Labor Party or the Liberal Party hold themselves to. Would the Greens accept donations from developers like the other parties do? No. Would the Greens accept donations from defence contractors or pharmaceutical companies or mining companies, like the other parties do? No, we would not. The Greens only accept donations through our donations reference group, and they must be consistent with our values and principles. Through this process in the past the Greens have accepted donations from the CFMEU. Will that happen again in the future? That is not for me to say. As always, any donation will go through the party’s process and the party will make a decision, based on its ethics and principles.

This is not the first time we have had cause to discuss the low standards to which other parties hold themselves. It was in February this year that both the Canberra Liberals and ACT Labor joined together to remove any donation caps from ACT electoral law. One would have thought any MLA in this place who believed in improving our democratic institutions and reducing the risk of corruption would have supported measures that would reduce potential influence that can be bought through political donations. But not the two parties here, not on the day that it counted, and certainly not Mr Wall. It was one of those 16 to one votes that happen in this place that show the Canberra Liberals’ true colours far more clearly than their set piece private members business.

Madam Speaker, I must admit that I anticipated this motion would be out of order. It seeks to bind the Assembly to direct the activities of political parties, and I would be very interested to hear the guidance about exactly which legislative power that direction would stem from. Interestingly, it also seeks to determine the membership structure of the ALP, which is a matter for them, not a matter for the Assembly, and certainly not a matter for the Canberra Liberals. This motion sinks to a new low, in terms of policy-free politics, and the ACT Greens will certainly not be taking ethical advice from any branch of the Liberal Party.

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