Eric Abetz, idealogue for the forces of evil (the Liberal party) recently came out with some plans for electoral law ".. reform.." He's the guy who keeps trying to get voluntary voting on the table. He spoke to the Sydney Institute on this issue.
Here's a transcript of the speech off his own website (click here)
My favourite bits are where he takes the right to vote off anyone who is currently serving a full time sentence. Because prisoners really needed to be reminded they're sub human and beneath any chance of redemption.
The other favourite bit is the raising the disclosure of political donations from $1,500 to $10,000. According to old Abetzy, "The arguments in favour of lifting this threshold are clear and unassailable."
Bullshit Abetz. Complete and utter bullshit. Saying that this should be linked to CPI is a complete furphy. Saying that somehow it may save the Electoral Commission staff some processing time is a complete furphy. Saying it's not high by International standards is neither here nor there.
Why is this a problem? Because increasing the amount by 666% (is that creepy or what?) opens the way to special interests being able to covertly influence politicians is why.
Abetz thinks $10,000 is chump change and that this does not buy anything. This is of course complete bullshit. It buys say meetings with senior government figures for business people spruiking their hidden from the public agenda while Mr and Mrs Grassroots - say opposing a smelter - are left outside with a placard and a thermos of tea. Don't take my word for it. Here's a charming little study by Joo Cheong Tham of Melbourne University that highlighted the dangers of opening the $1500 non disclose limit to just $5000.
Joo points out that since each political party in a state or territory, and their national office, is an independent entity as far as the AEC is concerned this means that assuming the threshold was $5000 (ie $4999 or less means no disclosure is needed) then '...a donor can give a total of $44991 to a major party without the party having to disclose the identity of the donor.'
So in our charming $10,000 example that's $89,991 given to a party, spread across its nine elements, that does not need the donor disclosed to the AEC.
It's f_cking laughable.
Oh, by the way, here's another charming comment from Abetz
While I welcome the election in Victoria of the Family First candidate, he was elected with just 1.88 percent of the primary vote.
In fact, due to preference flows from above the line votes, the Family First candidate was elected ahead of the Greens’ candidate, who polled 8.8 percent of the primary vote.
This was primarily because Labor directed preferences to Family First, not the Greens, in Victoria.
He's correct. The ALP did have the FF senator as their no 7 preference in the 2004 election in the senate for Victoria.
But where did the libs put theirs after their senate candidates?
Why the DLP (7-11) then to the Christian Democrats of Fred Niles ilk (12-13), then ... Family First (14-18).
The DLP had their genesis as a party split from the ALP in the 50's over communism. Here's a note from Wiki.
A small group of DLP activists in Victoria refused to accept the dissolution of the party and formed a new DLP, which has contested Senate elections in Victoria at every election since 1980 but has never gained representation. The party is largely run by John Mulholland and his family, and its main platform is opposition to abortion. The party no longer has the patronage of the Catholic Church but still has some support among conservative Catholics.
(See the Wiki reference here)
For those non Ozzers reading this the Christian Democrats are like a weak version of Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberston - God bothers who give Christianity a bad name. Family First, ultimately successful, are a recent entrant to the Oz political scene and have their origins in fundamentalist Christian movements organising politically in this country (think the Chrisitian wing of the Republican party). I'm not sure if it's official policy but I believe one of their QLD members who stood in the last election advocated the burning of lesbians (in his defence the FF Senator Steve Fielding has proven to be thus far reasonably reasonable and has actually queried the govt's planned changes to industrial reform).
So all three of these parties, where the Libs directed their preferences too, were conservative Christian groups.
Rank f_cking hypocracy Abetz. But what do you expect of a Liberal party lawyer trying to ensure entrenchment of their shallow minded, right wing, fear mongering government?
A twatwatch duly earned indeed.