Liberals push to widen ban on donations

The NSW Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell, has called for a ban on political donations other than from individuals after he was criticised by the state government and the Greens for continuing to accept money from tobacco companies.

The Greens MP John Kaye has said he will seek to amend an election funding bill before Parliament to ban tobacco companies from making political donations in NSW. The amendment is supported by the Premier, Kristina Keneally, and is likely to be in place before next year’s election.

Barry O’Farrell ... criticised over tobacco cash

Barry O’Farrell ... criticised over tobacco cash

Dr Kaye and Ms Keneally used the announcement to target Mr O’Farrell over the Coalition’s policy of accepting tobacco company donations, which amount to $607,000 since the 2003 election.

But Mr O’Farrell responded yesterday by challenging Labor and the Greens to support his amendment, which would ban donations from corporations, unions and other groups.

”As I have argued repeatedly, the only way to end Labor’s ‘decisions for donations’ culture is to only allow individuals to make political donations within a modest cap,” Mr O’Farrell said.

“Our proposal would end donations from other groups whether they were unions, corporations or interest group. Given the new Labor/Greens alliance at work in NSW, I look forward to support from John Kaye and Kristina Keneally.”

During question time, the Premier said neither Mr O’Farrell nor the leader of the Nationals had raised the issue of corporate donations during negotiations over the original bill.

The opposition points out that they have long advocated such a ban, but Ms Keneally rejected Mr O’Farrell’s call.

She argued the government needs to strike a balance between reforming the system of campaign finance and upholding the rights of corporations, unions and business groups to play a role in the political process.

Dr Kaye said the Greens would not support Mr O’Farrell’s amendment because doing so meant that Labor would reject the entire bill. ”We have the choice of feeling good or making real progress,” he said.


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