Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dirty money

On Tuesday, I had a quick poke at candidate donation returns in an effort to find out who is buying our politicians. Now the Herald has got into the game - and with their superior resources, they've uncovered all sorts of interesting donations. For a start, it seems Climate Change Minister Nick Smith wasn't the only recipient of the Road Transport Forum's largesse - they've been spending up large with the explicit goal of

getting one [MP] in each of the different parts of the country so that our members in that area can go and talk to them about issues that affect our industry.
The RTF calls this "assisting the democratic process". I call it corruption. They're specifically trying to buy influence over political decision making, and that is corrupt. And I suppose it was just a coincidence that their "assistance" happened to land in the laps of the two major parties' spokespeople on climate change, an area of policy of particular interest to them, right?

While we're on the topic of corruptly buying influence, its also not a good look for Chris Carter, who at the time was Minister of Education, to be accepting donations from the principal of a private college. When are our Ministers and MPs going to get it through their thick skulls that accepting money from people they will be regulating or making policy decisions about publicly compromises their integrity?

The other big news is that National is still up to its dirty trust tricks:

A mystery entity called Toorak Chambers also gave $3000 each to National MPs Simon Bridges, David Bennett, Todd McLay, and Lindsay Tisch.

When questioned, one of the recipients said it was linked to the National Party and referred the Herald to the party's headquarters.

However, phone calls to general manager Mike Oldershaw and president Judy Kirk were not returned.

National's response to the Electoral Finance Act, or any attempt to regulate political donations, is to claim that transparency is enough. Then, in practice, they evade and undermine that transparency, using corporate fronts to shield the identity of donors. These are the actions of a dishonest, hypocritical, dirty party with something to hide.