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Abetz plan to turn political donations into 'hush slush' funds: what does Howard want to hide?



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Media Release Kelvin Thomson MP Shadow Minister for Public Accountability; Shadow Minister for Human Services

Federal Member for Wills

Abetz plan to turn political donations into ‘hush slush’ funds

WHAT DOES HOWARD WANT TO HIDE?

Before the first sitting of the now government-controlled Senate, Special Minister of State Senator Eric Abetz is threatening the health of Australia’s democracy by seeking to push through legislation that will allow a massive 666% increase in secret donations to political parties.

Senator Eric Abetz intends to allow donations of up to $10,000 to remain anonymous - up from the present $1500 limit. The potential for rorting increases exponentially when it is considered that political parties which have national, state and territory organisations each registered separately can receive donations of up to $90,000 on the quiet.

This is another example of the Howard Government’s intention to use its Senate majority for its own political advantage. Senator Abetz is even bragging about ‘a return to the good old days when people used to donate to the Liberal Party via lawyers’ trust accounts’.

If passed, Abetz’s ‘Hush Slush’ Act will create a climate in which secret deals and corruption can flourish. One of the greatest safeguards against people trying to buy political influence is the knowledge that campaign donations will be disclosed.

The Howard Government’s plans will change that. They will allow secret backroom deals. They will allow Ministers and Government MP’s to hand out contracts and favourable policy decisions in exchange for campaign donations.

And we won’t know it’s happening because those campaign donations will be secret. This is absolutely the wrong way for Australia to go. Labor believes all original sources of political donations should be disclosed. Labor will introduce measures to ensure all fundraising bodies and trusts assisting political parties, politicians or candidates fully and promptly disclose their accounts and the source of their income.

To make matters even worse, the Liberal Party also plans to deliver a huge tax break for campaign donors, lifting the allowable amount from $100 to $5000.

Why should someone get a tax break for donating to a political party? Tax deductibility for political donations should be abolished, not increased.

These disturbing electoral funding changes show that notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s denials this is a Government fully intent on abusing its Senate majority.

/Ends Canberra 15/07/2005 Contact: Kelvin Thomson 0419/594 882