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Ban foreign donations.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA WEDNESDAY 1 FEBRUARY 2006

SENATOR ANDREW MURRAY AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS ELECTORAL MATTERS SPOKESPERSON

BAN FOREIGN DONATIONS

The Australian Democrats greeted today’s news that the Liberal Party received a $1 million donation from controversial British Conservative Lord Michael Ashcroft with alarm.

"There is no such thing as a free lunch", said Senator Andrew Murray, Australian Democrats Electoral Matters spokesperson. "What did this donation buy?"

"Foreign interference and influence in Australian domestic politics is absolutely unacceptable. Donations from overseas entities and foreigners must be banned outright. We have no problem with donations from Australian individuals living offshore, and they should continue to be permitted.

"We Democrats argue that a huge tightening of disclosure law is needed. Australian political parties are essentially selling access and influence.

"Australian democracy should be strengthened by banning foreign donations and donations with strings attached, as well as forcing disclosure of who is behind clubs, trusts and foundations.

"Further, union members and company shareholders should be required to approve the political donations policies of companies and unions. The Democrats also argue for a cap of $100,000 on any donation made to any party or candidate.

"The major parties receive hundreds of millions of dollars over the political cycle between them. They have always voted down Democrats amendments to ban foreign donations, and to disclose the secret funders behind big political donations from clubs, trusts and foundations.

"There are serious questions to be asked about what pay back is given for political donations and whether our political system is becoming corrupted.

"The United States and other countries rightly ban foreign donations. Why not Australia? Ensuring that there is no foreign influence in domestic politics is a big issue in other countries. It should be a big issue here too", concluded Senator Murray.

Media contact - Senator Murray 0419 958 038