Acts of Political Donations in Australia

Acts of Political Donations in Australia Order Instructions: Write a response to the below discussion topic making reference to contemporary Australian governmental issues.

Acts of Political Donations in Australia
Acts of Political Donations in Australia

Acts of political donations in Australia have been called into question over the past 12 months following the much publicised scandal involving Indepenent Commission Against Curruption (ICAC), a watchdog which attempts to keep track of things such as the source and effect of political donations, and several local and state politicians in NSW who were found to have received donations from developers, a practice outlawed by Barry O’Farrell’s Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Amendment Bill 2012. The bill also capped individual donations at $1000.

Nevertheless, political parties gain the majority of their funding from corporate and public donations, with 2005 numbers estimating that the Liberal and Labor parties raised over $60 million each from corporate and public donations (The Age, 2006). Considering that the combined total of corporate donations for both parties in the year 2002-3 was approximately $69.4 million (The Age, 2004), it is evident that the amount of revenue political parties are able to generate through donations is increasing each year.

There is a negative stigma attached to private political donations, especially from corporate entities, as it can be seen as an attempt to influence policy. The majority of the large political doners will conduct business in areas that are affected by government policy, which allows them to benefit from government contracts (ABC Radio, 2004). For example, the Trade Unions have traditionally donated substantial amounts of money to the Australian Labor Party (ALP), which they have been closely alligned with in terms of sharing members and idealogies. As a result, critics have accused Trade Unions of buying seats for the ALP (Albrechsten, 2006) and they expect resulting policies to benefit their members.

However, not all political donations are shrouded by allegations of corruption. The Hawke government introduced public donations in 1984 as a means of lessening political parties’ reliance on corporate funds. Public funding is essentially the act of a state of federal government providing their own capital, gained via taxation etc., to fund campaigns from any registered political party. The rate of funding for an individual candidate is estimated by multiplying the number of primary votes received by the amount of money payable at the time, which is controlled by the Consumer Price Index (Australian Electoral Commission). The rate in January 2014 was $2.52 per vote.

Acts of Political Donations in Australia Presentation Content

The angle I will be taking with my presentation will be looking at the good side of political donations by looking at instances of positive changes, policies etc. that were implemented as a result of political donations. Also I will discuss public funding and its system of providing funds to candidates in a way that can be quantified in terms of votes/popularity, even if Liberal and Labor candidates enjoy the majority of public funding, as opposed to the more murky corporate funding.

The information that I have gathered so far has mostly originated from news artilces and government websites detailing funding numbers and processes.

Acts of Political Donations in Australia Questions:

1. Do you think public funding is an equitable system of political donations in regards to funding campaigns? Is it simply a case of making the dominant parties, Liberal and Labor, stronger?

2. Can you think of examples of private or public political donations and corporate funding having a positive effect on determining policy, infrastructure etc.?

Acts of Political Donations in Australia Sample Answer

Political donations have always been a thorn in the flesh of many a politician and political party across the globe and closer home in Australia as well.  Australia being a developed country prides itself with its democratic system which is essentially governed on the principle of fairness and equal representation of the population in the governance of the country. Political donations in themselves fall into what is considered freedom of expression, but the fact that these could be used o manipulate democratic processes by handing power to the so to say ‘highest bidder’ make it somewhat of a complicated process (Clemens, 2015). This exercise seeks to briefly illustrate the seldom covered positive aspects of this issue.

The issue of public funding as a matter of public interest has led to several pieces of legislation that ensure the integrity of Australia’s democratic integrity remains untainted. The first example of such a policy came into play in 1984. The law sought to limit the influence of corporates in the country’s legislative system. While this did not automatically eliminate the influence of corporates, it served as a prime-mover in an avalanche of discussions and legislations that would protect the power of the people. Public funding also served to bring about accountability to the electorate by the politicians and this would lead to the resolution of issues the population is facing and not the streamlining of the business environment for the sake of a few corporates at the expense of the public (Smith et al, 2012).

The regulations on disclosure have also helped a great deal by highlighting the biggest private donors. The relatively low threshold for disclosure means that the public can monitor the activities of political parties especially with respect to the way they legislate and compare this to the laws they make. Any incidence of bias will then be more easily reported and investigated. Special interest groups in the public domain such as workers also have a chance to support parties that look into the interests of their members and this has been seen in the close relationship between the labor party and trade unions which represent workers. This way it is easier to lobby for legislation that looks into the protection of workers’ rights (Gauja, 2013).

Acts of Political Donations in Australia References

Clemens, E. (2015). The Democratic Dilemma: Aligning Fields of Elite Influence and Political Equality. In Elites on Trial (pp. 223-241). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Gauja, A. (2013). Political parties and elections: Legislating for representative democracy. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

Smith, R., Vromen, A., & Cook, I. (Eds.). (2012). Contemporary politics in Australia: Theories, practices and issues. Cambridge University Press.


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