Calls for all political donations to be banned in Queensland

Time to end the influence of big money on politics

A Greens plan to ban political donations from all for-profit companies does not go far enough, one Queensland council says.

Greens MP Michael Berkman has introduced a private member's bill to ban all political donations from for-profit companies to state and local government politicians, candidates and parties.

The bill aims to "eliminate the actual and widely perceived risk of corruption" due to corporate donations to politicians, candidates and political parties, the explanatory notes say.

However, Southern Downs Regional Council argued the ban did not go far enough.

"Council would question why this does not incorporate not-for-profit organisations," CEO David Keenan wrote, on behalf of the council, in a submission on the bill.

"Any mechanisms that diminish this level of risk and perceived conflicts of interest or corruption should be fully supported."

Redland City Council Mayor Karen Williams said the council wrote to the state government in November 2015 to ask for it to investigate banning all political donations for government campaigns and for all candidates, including councillors, to be publicly funded.

Crime and Corruption Commission chair Alan MacSporran said he had previously said that, in an ideal world, all donations would be banned, but he said the High Court had said there needed to be an evidence-based response.

Mr MacSporran said the parliamentary committee's inquiry may consider whether there was enough evidence to conclude that banning political donations by for-profit corporations was a proportionate response to any demonstrated threat of actual or perceived corruption.

"However, at the time of preparing this submission, the CCC is not aware of, and does not consider it holds, sufficient evidence in this regard," he said.

Mr Berkman told Fairfax Media the donations system needed reform.

"[But] I don't know necessarily that charities and community groups and representative organisations have the same profit imperative that drive them, so I think their contributions at a smaller scale are less problematic than corporate donations," he said.

Mr Berkman said publicly funded election campaigns, which were not a feature of his current bill, could also be beneficial.

"I think that's the cleanest way to run elections and to ensure that money has as little role as possible in the way democracy is done," he said.

"I think it very much levels the playing field."

Earlier this year, the Palaszczuk government passed laws that banned property developers from donating at a local and state government level.

The CCC, however, said extending the ban to state politicians departed "significantly" from its recommendations following an extensive investigation into local government.

The Economics and Governance Committee is due to table its report on the bill by November 19.

 

By Felicity Caldwell, Brisbane Times

5 July 2018 — 8:15pm

 

Article here.

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