Ban political donations, says Edmund Rice Centre

The Edmund Rice Centre director Phil Glendenning has weighed in on the debate over a ban on political donations, saying that a $10,000 jaunt with a political leader could fund half the cost of an apprenticeship for a young Australian.

"We want to see a total ban on all donations in any form from anyone to all political parties in local, state and federal elections, and instead urge corporations to donate to address poverty and injustice in our society," Mr Glendenning said in a statement urging companies to ensure that their donations address poverty and social needs.

It was business as usual last week with the NSW Labor Party holding a fundraising function in Sydney's Darling Harbour, attended by almost 1000 people, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

At $500 a ticket, the event raised nearly $500,000, with VIP tables and access to an exclusive cocktail party with ministers selling for $15,000 for nine guests. Dining with the Premier, Morris Iemma, cost $45,000.

"Why spend $10,000 for a harbour cruise with a political leader when you could spend $10,000 to help create a job for a young Australian", Mr Glendenning asks.

"$10,000 is half an apprenticeship."

Mr Glendenning says there are many other areas of urgent need in Australian society.

"There are 650,000 children in Australia who live in jobless families. Indigenous people still die 17 years earlier than other Australians, and it takes four years on a waiting list for poor people to see a dentist," he said.

He said the "culture" of political donations "excludes ordinary Australian people and most particularly those who suffer social injustice."

"In a democratic society with deep social needs - particularly among our youth, Indigenous Australians, in the bush and among the poor, the giving of so much for political campaigns is a bad look, a very bad look, for those interested in equity and a healthy democracy," Mr Glendenning warned.

In a NSW Local Government Association resolution last week, the group urged the Federal Government to convene a national summit to change the laws governing donations to all three levels of Australian government.

The Prime Minister has rejected calls for a national ban.

Media Release (Edmund Rice Centre, 4/11/06)
Donation backlash divides top Libs (Sydney Morning Herald, 3/11/06)

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Edmund Rice Centre

6 Nov 2006