Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 15 November 2018
Page: 8275


Senator WATERS (Queensland) (12:13): What we have here is a deal by these two big parties to ram through a quite complex piece of legislation that manages to achieve looking like it's doing something about a corrupt democracy while in fact letting 94 per cent of the donations to big parties carry on unregulated. That's what the academics have said: only six per cent of the donations come from foreign sources. And this bill—the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017—doesn't even stop all of those. The whole point of this bill, as we understand it, would be to have stopped the donation received by former senator, Sam Dastyari, from Chinese interests. This bill would not stop that. It is not drafted in a way to actually fix the problem of corporate control of our democracy. Everybody in this place knows exactly that. I don't think the Australian public will buy this either.

If you really want to fix the corporate takeover of our democracy and parliament, you will vote for the amendments that we will move today. You will vote to end donations from the most pernicious industries that are trying to exert influence and buy policy outcomes, such as mining, property developers, tobacco, gambling, banks, big pharma and defence. They have no place buying policy outcomes. Let's just end those corporate donations. Are you going to back it? I doubt it, because they fund your re-election campaigns. If you won't come at that, will you come at a cap on donations of $1,000 per year on everyone? It doesn't matter what industry they're from or whether they're an individual or a union. Will you come at an actual cap on big money in politics? Some people have said, 'You're being selective.' If you want to fix this problem, back that amendment. Let's cap donations at no more than $1,000 each year from anyone, no matter who they represent or whether they're individuals or where they're from. Let's actually get big money out of politics.

It's about time we stood here representing people and the community. You stand here representing your corporate donors that pay for your re-elections. You're more concerned about your own careers, about retaining power and potentially going off to a fancy lobbyist job after you leave this place. What an absolute abrogation of the duty that we have to represent the community and the planet and improve people's lives. Let's actually fix homelessness. Let's actually tackle climate change. Let's actually end the pernicious influence of gambling on so many people's lives. There are so many things that we could actually be addressing in this parliament, but, because of the influence of those corporate donors over the policymaking process and because both the big parties take that dirty money, we are not getting the sorts of decisions that advance people's everyday lives and their interests.

Both the parties have taken $100 million in corporate donations in the last six years. Is it any wonder that we don't have a climate policy, at all? Is it any wonder that we don't have action on the real issues that people are facing, like homelessness and environmental destruction or like people being able to afford to send their kids to school and put food on their table? We have real issues that the community is desperate for us to help them with, and you guys just take the money from big corporates. Vote to fix it today. People deserve their democracy back. They deserve a system that actually works for them. We have that chance. Don't use this to pretend that we've fixed some part of the problem; let's actually fix the problem. What do you want to be here for? You've got the chance to make some real reform. Please take it. I'm going to move an amendment today that says, let's cap donations at $1,000 from everyone and let's get big money out of politics, and I beg you to support it.

The PRESIDENT: The time for the debate has expired. The question is that the suspension of standing orders moved by Senator Cormann be agreed to.