February 4, 2012
THIS newspaper has long argued that a healthy democracy demands that financial support of political parties must be transparent and accountable. If not, then there will always be grounds for suspicion. This is not to say that political donations are bad things that should be outlawed – politics has always been a business, after all, and an expensive one to run, at that – but the process of giving and receiving must be made honestly and without concealment.
Alas, in the all-too-real world of Australian politics, such clarity has yet to be achieved, and donations remain a murky concern. Two days ago, this newspaper reported that, based on annual returns supplied by all political parties to the Australian Electoral Commission, Victorian Liberals identify the original corporate, individual or industry source of just $485,000 (or 3 per cent) of its total donation receipts of $18.3 million. Victorian Labor’s returns showed that less than half of the $21 million in total receipts were itemised.
Today, The Saturday Age presents disturbing revelations that out of a total of $231 million received in donations to political parties across Australia more than $70 million is publicly unaccounted for. Analysis of figures disclosed by all parties to the AEC for 2010-11 shows that a proportion of that $70 million comprises unidentified donations, often made via third parties, such as fund-raising clubs, classified by the AEC as ”associated entities”.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/editorial/political-donors-must-be-known-20120203-1qxru.html#ixzz1lpQ4Reck