Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Is Fielding hopeful of donations from US Christian nutters?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-03-12

It is nice for a lefty to be able to support the actions of the Rudd government, at least occasionally.  It’s even nicer that it is on an issue of considerable importance and broad impact.

Senator John Faulkner’s efforts to remove some of the worst campaign-donations rorts introduced by Howard are not perfect, but they are a considerable improvement.  Unfortunately, the bill was rejected by the Coalition forces, with the assistance of Senator "Family First" Fielding.

The Inquiry into the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and other Measures) Bill 2008 is interesting reading when compared to inquiry into the same issues in 2006 under Howard (See 2006 inquiry into political donations report).

The ALP in government is sticking to the principles on this matter it outlined when in opposition (see the ALP 2006 dissenting report), is being applauded by the Greens, supported in most measures by the submission from Democratic Audit Australia, and is fairly consistent with the excellent analysis in the 2006 dissenting report by Andrew Murray.

It comes as no surprise that the Liberals and Nationals would argue against the reforms.  They argue about administrative burdens on parties, about the selective nature of the reforms, not being comprehensive enough  They don’t dare take their 2006 line that increasing thresholds is good for democracy!  The Libs are pushing pushing for "analysis paralysis" until they get back into power and rush in their cunning plans for anti-democratic changes.

But it is at first surprising why Fielding would oppose them, until you have a look at the effect on the VERY minor parties, like Hanson and Fielding.  Was this intentional by the ALP to try and squeeze out inconvenient independents and (perhaps hopefully from an ALP party-machine view), the Greens and maybe even a resurrected Democrats Party?  Possibly.  Still, the type of rorting that Hanson was involved in must stop: why should the public purse give political wannabees more money to fund their campaigns than those wannabees actually spend?

Still, if Fielding’s concerns were deep enough to reject the bill, why did the Greens and Xenophon like the bill?

Perhaps it’s because Xenophon and the Greens have little hope of raising funds from overseas.

Just as with the Hanson rorts, foreign donations are disgusting, although not for the money given out from the public purse, but because of the way this can corrupt policy-making processes.The submission from Democratic Audit Australia gives the government a big tick on the foreign donations section:

The structure of the proposals is clever." There is no attempt to control all ‘foreign’ donations. For example, anon-national like a backpacker working in Australia will still be able to attend a party fundraiser and make a contribution in Australian dollars, without the party having to take the administratively difficult step of identifying and refusing or forfeiting the contribution.

OK, so Fielding is either paranoid about things that don’t worry Xenophon and the Greens (the “anti-Hanson” bits), has been bought off by the Coalition who are promising support for something on his Christian Nutter Agenda, or Fielding is hopeful of (perhaps repeated) funding from the likes of the US Christian Right.

Any other ideas?  The cynic in me says Fielding seeks funds from the US.


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