News that the Communications Minister, who oversees the Interactive Gambling Act and was previously the shadow minister in charge of online betting, had dinner with and received $19,000 in donations from Sportsbet on the eve of last year’s election shows she should not be in charge of any gambling policy and that donations from the gambling industry should be banned.
Because our donations laws are so weak Minister Rowland has not broken any laws but it is clearly untenable for her to remain as gambling regulator when she has such a cosy relationship with online betting agencies.
It’s long past time to reform political donations laws, and the Greens are committed to pushing Labor to get it done.
Lines attributable to Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on Democracy, Senator Larissa Waters
“It is clearly untenable for the Minister to remain as gambling regulator when she has such a cosy relationship with betting agencies, despite our donations laws being so weak that they have not been broken.
“These donations are an insult to voters and gambling reform advocates across Australia. Both the major parties accept huge sums of money from big industries, and their policies show it.
“Weak donation laws mean a $10,000 donation from Sportsbet to the shadow minister responsible for online betting doesn’t have to be disclosed. More than a third of all donations to parties stay hidden from public view.
“Sportsbet also spent nearly $9,000 for a campaign dinner and access to the shadow Minister - no requirement to disclose that one either. These donations are not made because Sportsbet loves democracy, they are made for access and to influence policy.
“We urgently need to ban donations from dirty industries like the gambling sector, and tighten disclosure laws so people can see in real time exactly who is pulling the strings of the parties they are voting for.
“Now that Minister Rowland is subject to the Ministerial Code of Conduct, there will be more scrutiny of any conflicts of interest arising from donations. We need strong codes to ensure that ALL politicians are acting with integrity at all times.
“The Greens have been campaigning for decades to clean up our democracy. It’s time for Labor to come to the table and work with us to ensure politicians work in the public interest, not the interest of their donor mates.”