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NSW, Qld move on political donations -

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NSW, Qld move on political donations

Timothy McDonald reported this story on Thursday, November 26, 2009 12:32:00

ELEANOR HALL: Allegations surrounding two senior members of the Labor Party are particularly
embarrassing for the State Government as it is moves to curb the perception of corruption in the
state.

The New South Wales Government and the Queensland Government have introduced legislation to limit
political donations in their states.

But as Timothy McDonald reports, the Queensland legislation is a lot more comprehensive than that
put forward by its fellow state Labor Government south of the border:

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The Queensland Parliament has passed legislation that, among other things, bans
success fees for lobbyists, expands the role of the state's integrity commissioner, and caps
political donations at $1,000.

The Premier Anna Bligh says more reforms are on the way.

ANNA BLIGH: I believe that government has a duty to continually reform and adjust to meet new
challenges. As I've outlined there will be a second round of legislative reforms in the first six
months of next year.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The Opposition voted for the legislation, but the leader John-Paul Langbroek says
the Government is on the nose from recent scandals, and is only trying to fix a well-earned image
problem.

JOHN-PAUL LANGBROEK: It seems with each new day it's a new Labor mate, another Labor Government
member or some other dodgy Labor link that is exposed.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Integrity issues have also been front and centre in New South Wales, where a
recent parliamentary inquiry into the shooting death of a developer shone the spotlight on the
links between the property industry, lobbyists, MPs and senior planning officials.

Now the New South Wales Government hopes to ban donations, but only from one industry.

NATHAN REES: The bill will amend the Election Funding and Disclosures Act of 1981 to prohibit
political donations made by or on behalf of property developers.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Still, the Premier Nathan Rees admits it's difficult to say who fits that
description.

NATHAN REES: For those falling on either side of this definition, the demarcation may appear
somewhat arbitrary. For example, spouses of certain persons are included in the definition of close
associate but not other family members.

Officers and directors of a corporation that is a property developer are covered but not regular
employees.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Ken Morrison from the Property Council of Australia says the definition doesn't
make much sense, and won't stop people from doing the wrong thing.

KEN MORRISON: Equity partners that might be involved in the projects won't necessarily be caught by
this ban. So people who are of ill will who are looking to try and push money around, then they'll
still be able to do this and it'll be virtually impossible for the Government or authorities to
crack down on that.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: The Greens say it's understandable that the Government is attacking the issue of
developer donations first, given the bad publicity they've generated.

But Upper House Member Lee Rhiannon says there should be a much broader ban on political donations
from all organisations.

LEE RHIANNON: We do need to take this further. Electoral funding reform needs to take in the issue
of money from all corporations and other organisations so we clean up the corrupting influence
these donations have had.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: On that, the Liberals agree, and perhaps more surprisingly, so does the Property
Council.

Ken Morrison says party officials often put developers in a difficult situation by soliciting
support while they have a project before the Planning Department.

KEN MORRISON: If they've got the project in government and then they caught a call from the party
secretary asking them to attend a political fundraiser, it's a difficult position to be in and many
companies think that the best thing to do is to actually attend the fundraiser to ensure they don't
get a black mark against their name.

ELEANOR HALL: Ken Morrison from the Property Council, ending that report by Timothy McDonald.