Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Fixing Australia's pervasive corruption

Australia is a corrupt nation. State and federal MPs and parties think its OK to take kickbacks, allocate contracts to their donors or mates, and accept donations in exchange for favourable government tradition - and they are occasionally prosecuted and jailed for it. But those prosecutions don't seem to be enough, and the corruption continues. Many states have established independent commissions against corruption in an effort to change this culture, but the federal government has resisted all efforts. Until now. Thanks to the loss of the Wentworth by-election, the Australian government no longer has a majority. And so it has been forced to vote for a motion supporting the establishment of a federal ICAC to avoid a humiliating defeat. Of course, they're dragging their feet on the specifics, but hopefully those two will be forced on them.

As for why this is necessary, just yesterday it was revealed that all three major federal parties had corruptly concealed donations:

Australia’s three major political parties failed to declare sizeable donations from corporate interests seeking lucrative government work, mining approvals or favourable tax policies, the Guardian can reveal.

The Liberals failed to declare a $10,000 donation from Raytheon, an arms manufacturer that was at the time vying for defence contracts, including on Australia’s major shipbuilding and submarine projects. The party’s South Australian branch has blamed the failing on a “clerical error”.

The West Australian Nationals failed to declare a $20,000 cheque it was handed by Mineral Resources, an iron ore miner seeking government approval to access new deposits in environmentally sensitive and unique mountain ranges in the state’s Yilgarn region.

Federal Labor failed to properly disclose a $100,000 donation from the car salary packaging industry, received the same financial year the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, wrote a letter to the industry, pledging to maintain generous tax arrangements.

Which really does make it look like they were trying to sell policy to the highest bidder, while keeping it secret from the voters they were betraying.

This corrupt culture needs to be stamped out. The sooner Australia gets a federal ICAC to put these crooks in jail, the better.