Nationals Ballina MP Don Page was successful in his motion for reform in the area of political donations at the Nationals State Conference at the weekend.

“I was very pleased to get 85% support at the conference for the motion,” he said.

“The result indicates the increased desire people have to clean up the political donation system.”

The motion sought to support the principle that only individuals who have the right to vote should have the ability to influence election outcomes, Mr Page said.

It read:

  • ‘The conference acknowledges the need to improve public confidence at all levels of government and accordingly:
  • (a) supports the principle that in a democracy only those that have the right to vote should determine election outcomes;
  • (b) agrees that those who do not have the right to vote including unions, associations and corporations should not be allowed to influence election outcomes by political donations or indirect advertising campaigns; and
  • (c) supports the principle that elections should be funded by a combination of capped public funding and capped individual donations.’

“I moved a similar motion two years ago, which was not supported at that time,” Mr Page said.

“The State Labor Government’s involvement in land releases in the Hunter Valley and the Wollongong Council scandal have heightened awareness of problems with our donation system,” he said.

“There is growing concern about the connection between political donations and political influence.

“The motion is about supporting reform and improving the transparency and integrity of the electoral system.

“An organisation that does not have the right to vote, such as a corporation or a union, should not be allowed to influence political outcomes through large financial donations.

“There is a perception among corporations that in order to gain access to Ministers they need to make significant donations. Many organisations donate to both sides of politics to achieve this access.

“I believe access to elected representatives should be open to everyone, regardless of their financial influence.

“If members of a union or a corporation wish to support a political party, they can do so as individuals.

 “I also strongly believe that donations should be capped to stop corporations using individuals to make de-facto donations.

“Public funding should also be capped to protect the taxpayers from governments using taxpayers’ funds to fund their own re-election.”

Mr Page said there was currently an Upper House inquiry in NSW into the political donation system, which had been driven by the State Coalition. The report is due to be released soon.