what constitutes a lobbyist?
what constitutes a political donation?
As political fundraising, special pleading, and special access have become slicker and professionalised, a wide bow can be drawn.
Some recent matters to consider:
- Dinner with Kevin Rudd pays for election campaign
- Businesses pay to meet Brumby
- Premier denies 'pay-for-access' culture in Victoria
- Why Brumby should take the Bligh road to integrity
Then consider another scenario:
A wonderful Perth restaurant, or may be it's a Melbourne restaurant. This is a fundraiser - but not for a political party. Funds raised to-night are to be directed to a local housing co-operative which will ensure the housing of quite a large number of otherwise homeless people.
This is a night when politicians and business people
buy time - with the homeless.
Now these homeless people because of the itinerant quality of their lifestyles are almost certainly not on the appropriate electoral roll. However, once settled in stable housing it is likely that they will be enrolled to vote. Ahah! You spotted it, dear Networker, something in it for the pollie.
But money which would have gone into the political coffers to buy time with a politician has now gone to a more productive cause. The political and corporate bigwigs who have had to pay to table with the homeless have also learned a little of the vagaries of life and caught glimpses of their own mortality.
This fictional money, if the story is translated into a real world, will actually build houses that can be seen and touched. It will add a new dimension to an existing community and it will restore quality of life to those who need it - and probably contribute to fewer calls on publicly funded health care.
We are never too sure where the money paid to political funds to buy politicians time goes. Perhaps it goes to printers for election pamphlets and posters. Perhaps it goes to multinationals for fuel for jet-setting pollies.
But I prefer the first disposition: giving homes to the homeless; spending funds visibly in communities; investing so that there is less need for retro-care for our health.
So let's ban political donations now - and forever. Put the money that is out there to productive use - not gladhanding; garnering obesity at first class restaurants; and generally pleasuring individuals and enhancing individual careers.
Get more value for money?
Ban political donations.