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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2630


Mr CADMAN(8.42) —In the days of consensus and reconciliation there is only one matter that the Australian Labor Party will not take to the Australian people, and that is the matter of public funding. It does not dare take it out of this chamber. It will not present it to the people of Australia in any way. It will not present it as part of its Party's platform. It will not present it to the Australian people in such a way that they can have their say. I dare the Government to have a referendum on this matter. I dare it to take it to the Australian people. It will not because it knows that the Australian people are absolutely opposed to this matter of public funding. Public funding of Australian political parties is an absolute disgrace, and the Government knows it. It is a process whereby the Government seeks to re-ensure its position in office.

By the number of seats and the number of votes a party gains, the Australian Labor Party is seeking to gain a greater share of taxpayers' funds and therefore re-ensure itself in office. It seeks to gain for itself more than its fair share of $8.6m which will go into its Party's coffers and will supplement all those other funds which it claims it does not receive but which it receives through a three-year period from the union movement. It knows it receives them and it knows that it is not prepared to account for them properly. It is not prepared to put the matter to the Australian people. The people have not been consulted, and Government members claim their Party to be a party of reconciliation and a party of consensus. There is no consensus on this matter, and they know it. The Australian Labor Party knows that there cannot be any consensus on this matter because more than half the Australian public is opposed to it. More than half the people of Australia oppose this matter.

The only place where there is consensus is within the Australian Labor Party. It seeks to grab with its hands Australian taxpayers' dollars. If it is prepared to spend dollars so freely, why does it not look at the $8.6m that it seeks to turn over to political parties and divert that money to employment programs or to the tax cuts that it promised? What about the assets test that it said it would not bring in? Why does it not do something about that?


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mrs Child) —Will the honourable member speak to the clause.


Mr CADMAN —I indicate that there are alternative uses for the funds that the Australian Labor Party seeks to gather to its coffers. I merely mention in passing, and nothing more than that, some of the alternative avenues in which these funds could be used. Why does the Government not keep some of its promises ? That is what the Australan people want to know. Australian political parties are voluntary. Why does the Government seek to corrupt that process? Why does it have to encourage members on this side of the chamber, who have never known who their political donors are, to find out? I do not know who the political donors in my electorate are; neither does the honourable member for Dundas (Mr Ruddock) , the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck), the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom) or the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson). No members on this side of the chamber know who contributes to their political funds. This disclosure process and the funding of political parties will force us to become aware of where political favours may be owed. Are you saying that as members of the Australian Labor Party you know precisely where each dollar for your campaign funds comes from?


Mr Gear —You will soon.


Mr CADMAN —So you are saying that you do not know at this stage. It seems to me an incredible factor that such a large proportion of the Australian Labor Party' s funds come from the Australian union movement and yet during the whole process of accord, conciliation and reconciliation, the union movement has come so far out in front of this whole process. You claim that you do not know where your funds come from. Yet the Liberal Party knows where your funds come from. You have put on record that you know where your political funds come from.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mrs Child) —Order! I suggest to the honourable member that he speak through the Chair and ignore interjections. I suggest to honourable members on my right that they cease interjecting.


Mr CADMAN —Madam Deputy Chairman, you will be aware that the Australian Labor Party has now said that it knows where each dollar of its campaign funds comes from. So be it. It knows where it owes its dues. It knows where it has to commit itself.


Mr Griffiths —I take a point of order. That is a grossly misleading comment. I certainly did not make that suggestion. I made that suggestion with respect to the Liberal Party.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —There is no point of order.


Mr CADMAN —There is no point of order. He is seeking to interrupt me. The insinuation is that the non-Labor Party forces have greater access to funds than the Labor Party forces. Let me destroy that proposition. What about the thousands of leaflets that flow over a three-year period through every workshop and every shop floor? The union movements that are committed to the Australian Labor Party do not claim to work for their members. They work as political organisations for a three-year period on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. What if we add in the cost of some of those leaflets and those radio programs paid for by the Australian Teachers Federation? What if we add in the cost of the radio stations which the Australian Labor Party owns and the free plugs and the free advertisements which I am sure you, Madam Deputy Chairman, are aware of and which are played on behalf of the Australian Labor Party? What if we add in some of the thousands of other avenues that are used by the Australian Labor Party between election periods?


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —The honourable member will come back to the clause that the Committee is discussing.


Mr CADMAN —Indeed. I am sure, Madam Deputy Chairman, that you will agree that the funds that a political party can draw on are most important as part of this clause that we are discussing. I am pointing out that over a three-year period, not over a three-week period, the Australian Labor Party has massive resources and it draws on those resources without relent. It draws on its union movement and its contracts through the union movement. It draws on the factories, the shop floors and its oganisations throughout those areas. It draws on its own radio stations.

Why are these matters not considered? The Australian Labor Party looks at funding and says: 'We will draw for ourselves a disproportionate share of the taxpayer's dollar'. It is incredible that the Australian Labor Party, through a series of processes, is seeking to perpetuate itself in office. These include access to a disproportionate share of funds and boundary changes which will ensure office for its members. It seeks to have list voting, which will gain for it a disproportionate share of the vote. It seeks by the appointment of commissioners, a capacity to influence the result of the-


Mr Reeves —Come on, before you sit down, tell us you won't take the public funding.


Mr CADMAN —I pointed out the way in which you have sought to disrupt and destroy the whole process of democracy.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mrs Child) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired .