The Victorian Greens have called on the Andrews Government to ban political donations from the gambling industry and property developers outright, to urgently restore integrity to the democratic process.
Donations from the 2018-19 financial year – which included the state election – were disclosed on Monday morning, including an extraordinary $761,000 donated to Victorian Labor from the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) who represent the interests of the majority of gambling venues in the State.
The AHA donated nowhere near this amount to other parties.
In 2017, the Andrews Labor Government granted pokies operators unprecedented 20 year licences, locking in their profits for decades to come to the detriment of communities that want to end the havoc wrought by this predatory industry.
Victorian Labor also received $1,143,000 from Progressive Business, its fundraising body that organises events for the party involving donors meeting with MPs. Victorian Labor uses these events to effectively hide dodgy donations from property developers.
One of the transparent property developer donations came from John Woodman’s company Watsons, who donated $36,000 to Victorian Labor.
With local government elections taking place later this year and explosive revelations coming out of IBAC’s inquiry into Casey Council, the urgency for donations reform has only grown. Despite reforms at the state level, local government remains vulnerable to those industries that seek to gain advantage through donations to candidates.
Our democracy shouldn’t be placed in the hands of greedy gambling giants or property developers with self-serving interests, it should be protected so that the voices of Victorians are heard.
In an effort to get dodgy donations out of Victorian politics, the Greens will move an amendment to the upcoming Local Government Bill 2019 that would make it unlawful for the gambling industry and property developers to make political donations.
Any unlawful donations would be forfeited to the state.
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said that both this morning’s donations disclosure, as well as the recent IBAC inquiry into Casey, were hard proof that the time for donation reform was now.
Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“Victoria has introduced donations reform for state elections but left a mess when it comes to local government elections.
“The simplest way to get dodgy money out of local government for the 2020 election is to ban gambling industry and property developer donations.
“Without reform, the candidates for the major parties will continue to enjoy dodgy donations that benefit themselves and their donors first and foremost, leaving our communities behind and our democracy under threat.”