In Politics

NSW National Party State Director Ben Franklin

Nationals Back Campaign Finance Reform – Labor MIA

Victor P Taffa

The Nationals’ State Director, Ben Franklin, appeared before a parliamentary committee to affirm his party’s support for the campaign finance agenda instigated by former Premier Nathan Rees.

He also voiced concerns that the Labor Party had undergone a change of heart on campaign finance reform.

“Like many people watching the committee proceedings I was shocked to learn that the Labor Party hadn’t bothered to submit a preferred model to the inquiry.” Mr. Franklin said.

“Their written submission was barely four pages in length, it’s pathetic.”

“The Nationals are now worried that Kristina Keneally will back away from Nathan Rees’ commitment to cleaning up our political system and eliminating the donations culture that has tainted this government.”

He called upon the Premier to publicly reaffirm the government’s commitment to the reform process.

The inquiry into Public Funding of Elections is being conducted by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters according to terms of reference set down by Nathan Rees on the day he was dumped by Labor’s ruling Right faction and replaced with Kristina Keneally.

The Nationals, Liberals and Greens all made detailed submissions to the inquiry, each stating their preferred model for reform.

In their submission The Nationals advocated:

  • A ban on all donations to political parties and candidates from corporations, unions and other organisations.
  • A limit to the amount that individual donors can contribute to a party or candidate.
  • The retention of the current donation disclosure laws, which are the strictest in Australia.
  • A cap on election spending by political parties and candidates
  • Regulation of campaign fundraising and spending by third parties

The whole issue of political donations should be put into perspective. Donations to political parties in New South Wales were never mired in allegations of developer impropriety because public funding of candidates did not exist until 1981.

Former Premier Neville Wran introduced public funding of elections that had the effect of paralysing the financial fundraising ability of the Liberal and National parties. Along with four year fixed term elections public funding of elections for candidates has become an industry where policy debate is replaced with donation subscriptions and Ministerial meet and money dinners.

This policy process of favours is none more apparent in those bidding to operate Metro Rail while Rail Corp bleeds dry.

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