Is Our Democracy for Sale?
Our democracy is at risk when powerful people are able to buy special access to our decision-makers.
Just days before the 2010 SA state election, billionaire property developer Lang Walker flew into Adelaide to be the guest of honour at a $1500-a-head Labor Party fundraiser. A week later, Mr Walker's Walker Corporation got the green light for its highly controversial Buckland Park satellite township of 12,000 houses on a floodplain near Virginia.
This brazen example of dubious political party fundraising was no isolated case.
A couple of years earlier, the head of one of the state’s most prominent property developers admitted on ABC radio that political donations were a way to make their projects happen, saying “that’s a part of the way the system – you know, politics – works here”.
This swapping of Ministerial access for dollars is tacky, shameless and a genuine threat to our democracy.
Without urgent law reform, it will only get worse.
Call for public electoral funding
With the next state election only 18 months away, a fair system of public funding is urgently needed in South Australia.
As a first step, the Greens have a Bill before Parliament to ban the use of Government Ministers as bait for party political fundraisers. But that’s just the beginning. We want to ban all donations from businesses and unions and cap individual donations as well, and replace it with a fair system of transparent and accountable public funding.
Only then can the public be assured that no dodgy deals have been done on the back of special access.
In 2009 Mark said in Parliament "One of the most important areas for reform is that of political donation, and I have spoken about this issue in this place on a number of occasions. The Greens believe that the Canadian model is well worth considering". He also spoke about limiting individual donations to $1,000, and prohibiting donations from corporations, unions and other organisations, and noted that "The flip side of the coin of limiting individual political donations is public funding for elections". Click here to read the full speech.
At the federal level, the formal Agreement between the Greens and the Gillard Government resulting from the 2010 Federal Election, included a committment from the Government to "seek further reform of funding of political parties and election campaigns" and noted "that the Greens are predisposed to a system of full public funding for elections as in Canada."
On 27/8/12, we were joined by a surprising ally. The head of one of South Australia’s largest unions, Peter Malinauskas, called for the scrapping of corporate and union donations.
Contact your local Member of Parliament and demand reform. Ask them to support reform of election funding in SA by replacing the status quo with a fair system of transparent and accountable public funding, a ban on all donations from business and unions, and a cap on individual donations.
A fairer and more democratic system is possible. There has been reform in Canada, as well as in NSW .
Now it’s time for it to happen in SA.
Otherwise we will be left with the best democracy that money can buy.