It has recently been revealed, again, that the names of people or organisations who made the most donations to all federal political parties remain secret. This time the amount revealed as coming from secret donors was $62 million, which is a fairly large amount, to say the least. The way the identity of the sources of these donations is kept secret, is either by cutting the donations up into smaller chunks to keep each under the reporting threshold of $13,500 for individual donations, or more effectively, by donating them to an intermediate entity1. One of the most effective intermediate entities was The Millennium Forum, which was set up by former treasurer of the Liberal Party, Michael Yabsley. This organisation was extremely successful in raising millions for the Liberal Party. There are numerous other organisations that were similarly used to launder money for political parties. These include the Wentworth Forum2, the North Sydney Forum3, and the Cormack Foundation4, among others. Commonly donors seek access to a politician for a particular donation1.
Michael Yabsley has again come out stating that the system is what he calls “soft corruption” and which he believes is not a “good look”. He has called for donations to be capped at $5001,2, and that these should be only from Australian citizens2, and no other entities. This is akin to something I have stated before4. I believe that donations should only be accepted from individual Australian citizens; they should be capped at $1,000 per donation and an annual maximum of $5,000 per donor. All donation details should be made public in real time and no anonymity would be permitted5. If you aren’t prepared to have your support for a political party made public, then you should not be able to donate money to it. This does not get around the possibility of a corporation or other entity giving its staff or members an amount of money to be donated to a particular political party. That could be difficult to prevent, but if uncovered, it should be dealt with in the same was as a case of bribery.
In addition, politicians should not be allowed to buy their way into parliament, as Malcolm Turnbull effectively did for the 2016 federal election6. This is to prevent any of our current oligarchs deciding that instead of buying politicians, they can buy a seat in parliament themselves; which is probably where we will be heading, unless we do something to prevent it.