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Does the ACT need an ICAC?

By Mike Jeffreys - 28 October 2014 13

donate-stock-271014

It’s often said that timing is everything.

The ACT Greens are suspicious of the timing of developer donations apparently made “during delicate planning approval processes” to quote from ABC Online.

“Fairfax Media has reported the ACT ALP received $223,292 of developer donations over the past five years, some of which came during or near to major planning approvals.”

Is Mr Byrne seriously suggesting that anyone who makes a donation to a political party doesn’t want something for their money?

He is – on behalf of his party presumably – apparently disappointed and confused by this call from the Greens for changes to the Territory’s political donation rules.

It’s almost touching that someone with present day experience in Australian political life should be confused as to why there might be eyebrows raised at developer donations being accepted by a governing body leading up to or during major planning proposals, particularly given the ongoing crises in the New South Wales parliament on exactly this issue.

Mr Byrne’s response to the perception that extra oversight may be needed is “We don’t get into the trouble that New South Wales does because we haven’t banned one industry or the other. What we’ve done is the smart thing which is to encourage strong donation reporting, as soon as the donation happens. That is the best in the country.”

So Mr Byrne’s argument is because there is nothing to say that donations from developers are disallowed, there’s no problem here?

I know Mr Byrne has already told us that he individually and/or the ACT Labor Party collectively are confused by what the Greens are saying, but surely they have made it pretty clear what they want.

The Greens through convenor Sophie Trevitt have released a statement which says “The Greens have advocated here in the ACT, and all around the country, to end corporate donations and vested interest influence in politics.”

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

The statement continues “The ACT Greens will be looking at a range of possible reforms to donation disclosure and accountability laws including the mechanisms used in NSW.”

But Mr Byrne says the ACT doesn’t need an ICAC – “It’s a long line to draw to say that we need an ICAC because someone is casting aspersions or thinks there’s a perception of a conflict of interest.”

Mr Byrne appears to have muddled a metaphor, perhaps because of his confusion as mentioned earlier.

But as to the substance of his comment, the reality is that perception is very important in politics.

In fact, it’s right up there with timing.

And planning is everything in the ACT.

No matter how many horrors past and present have been erected around its shoreline, Sydney Harbour itself still looks fantastic.

But Canberra is and always had been all about the planning.

Degrade the integrity of the planning process bit by bit, deal by dubious deal and watch the character of Canberra fade away along with the pride its citizens can rightly take in their city.

ACT Labor wants you to believe they’re not susceptible to influence by donors: in this case donors who are also developers, so there’s no need for them to outlaw developer donations, therefore because developer donations are perfectly acceptable there’s no corruption for an ICAC to find.

Summed up, they’re saying you can trust us so there’s no need for anything more to be said or done about the issue.

In fact, they’re saying there is no issue.

Of course that may indeed be the case.

It may just be that I have a suspicious nature.

Possibly not suspicious enough when it comes to analysing what politicians might be up to, but suspicious all the same.

Me and the Greens, apparently.

Now if only the ACT had some apolitical body to watch over the process to make sure that vested interests aren’t using donations to buy decisions which will lead to long term ugly for short term gain.

You know, something like an ICAC.

Just to be sure.

After all, if the ACT did have an organization like that and it found that there was no influence being peddled just like Mr Byrne says it would certainly put those annoying Greens and (and people like me) in their place.

What’s Your opinion?


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13 Responses to
Does the ACT need an ICAC?
dungfungus 10:50 am 29 Oct 14

JC said :

justin heywood said :

HenryBG said :

…except for donations to the Greens, which are made by people who genuinely would like to make the world a better place…

True.
Paradoxically though, support for the Greens doesn’t necessarily result in a better world. Tasmania, the state where they have had the biggest influence (until very recently), is an economic basket-case, only surviving on money from the rest of us.

Without the Commonwealth’s continual willingness to write the cheques, the Green dream would remain just that.

So is that a result of Green party influence, or the fact that Tasmania is Tasmania? Maybe it, like the ACT is a state (ACT at Territory of course) that simply cannot be fully self supportive.

The Tasmanians Greens have not exactly encouraged mining and manufacturing industries have they.

JC 9:14 am 29 Oct 14

justin heywood said :

HenryBG said :

…except for donations to the Greens, which are made by people who genuinely would like to make the world a better place…

True.
Paradoxically though, support for the Greens doesn’t necessarily result in a better world. Tasmania, the state where they have had the biggest influence (until very recently), is an economic basket-case, only surviving on money from the rest of us.

Without the Commonwealth’s continual willingness to write the cheques, the Green dream would remain just that.

So is that a result of Green party influence, or the fact that Tasmania is Tasmania? Maybe it, like the ACT is a state (ACT at Territory of course) that simply cannot be fully self supportive.

dungfungus 8:16 am 29 Oct 14

rommeldog56 said :

Will be interesting to see if ACT Labor and/or Greens get any “donations” – especially in 2015 and 2016 – from companies directly or indirectly involved in the Light Rail

!!!!

Interesting twist on how light rails can be justified by governments who think they need them when they “bribe themselves” (substitute the Northbourne Avenue urban renewal added value nonsense for the bridge in this article).
http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-18881-the_$25_billion_bribe.html

justin heywood 11:09 pm 28 Oct 14

HenryBG said :

…except for donations to the Greens, which are made by people who genuinely would like to make the world a better place…

True.
Paradoxically though, support for the Greens doesn’t necessarily result in a better world. Tasmania, the state where they have had the biggest influence (until very recently), is an economic basket-case, only surviving on money from the rest of us.

Without the Commonwealth’s continual willingness to write the cheques, the Green dream would remain just that.

watto23 8:06 pm 28 Oct 14

housebound said :

Does the ACT need an ICAC? Most definitely.

Would any political party, Greens included, really back a real ICAC? I doubt it.

ACT Liberals might, but only because they have no power and therefore there’s nothing to be gained by bribing them (oops, I meant making a donation).

But i bet the Libs had developers just waiting to build say the Lanyon pool or any of the other infrastructure they promised had they been elected. Plus they are lucky we don’t have any natural resources to mine, but that doesn’t mean fossil fuel companies wouldn’t donate to stop say wind farms and solar farms. All political parties accept donations to “make their policies” match the donors will. What people will argue about is whether its good for the country, themselves, business etc. or not.

dungfungus 7:31 pm 28 Oct 14

HenryBG said :

watto23 said :

Its one of the biggest flaws in out political system, whereby a company or group with enough money can donate to either of the major political parties, most likely the one that correlates closest in ideology to ram down laws that don’t need to happen, except in to protect said companies interests.

…except for donations to the Greens, which are made by people who genuinely would like to make the world a better place. (Communist fake-greens occupying notable positions such as Lee Rhiannon/Brown notwithstanding).

Donations to the Lib/Labs on the other hand, are made for selfish purposes and very often at odds with the good functioning of Democracy.

watto23 said :

The NBN and daresay the environmental debates would not have occurred to the level they have in this country if it were not for companies with vested interests donating to political parties to take an opposing view.

Spot on. 90% of what people believe on these two issues is nonsensical misinformation emitted by propagandists pushing a party line.

The Greens are no different to the other parties:
http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=12355

justin heywood 7:16 pm 28 Oct 14

It may just be that I have a suspicious nature.

I don’t think you’d have to be ‘suspicious’ by nature to find it remarkable to claim that developers don’t expect a return on their money. If the money was given secretly it would be a criminal offence, but because it is done openly it is OK legally. It shouldn’t be.

My theory is that it’s all part of a grand experiment to see just how bad a government has to be before the voters kick them out. They’ve tried rank incompetence, but we kept electing them. Now they’re trying a laughably implausible ‘these developers are just good citizens’ angle to see if we’ll swallow that.

But we will keep electing them.

HiddenDragon 5:53 pm 28 Oct 14

Yes, of course we do – even if only for entertainment purposes. The challenge would be persuading un-connected people from inter-State to come here for a few years to run it. Absent an ICAC, a very well resourced Auditor-General wouldn’t be a bad thing, either.

rommeldog56 4:49 pm 28 Oct 14

Will be interesting to see if ACT Labor and/or Greens get any “donations” – especially in 2015 and 2016 – from companies directly or indirectly involved in the Light Rail !!!!

HenryBG 4:15 pm 28 Oct 14

watto23 said :

Its one of the biggest flaws in out political system, whereby a company or group with enough money can donate to either of the major political parties, most likely the one that correlates closest in ideology to ram down laws that don’t need to happen, except in to protect said companies interests.

…except for donations to the Greens, which are made by people who genuinely would like to make the world a better place. (Communist fake-greens occupying notable positions such as Lee Rhiannon/Brown notwithstanding).

Donations to the Lib/Labs on the other hand, are made for selfish purposes and very often at odds with the good functioning of Democracy.

watto23 said :

The NBN and daresay the environmental debates would not have occurred to the level they have in this country if it were not for companies with vested interests donating to political parties to take an opposing view.

Spot on. 90% of what people believe on these two issues is nonsensical misinformation emitted by propagandists pushing a party line.

housebound 2:25 pm 28 Oct 14

Does the ACT need an ICAC? Most definitely.

Would any political party, Greens included, really back a real ICAC? I doubt it.

ACT Liberals might, but only because they have no power and therefore there’s nothing to be gained by bribing them (oops, I meant making a donation).

watto23 12:20 pm 28 Oct 14

The issue is as we all found out there is a lot of finger pointing at Labor for example until the other political parties get caught and then the finger pointing stops. Personally I think donations to political parties are all attempts to manipulate democracy in the country. Its one of the biggest flaws in out political system, whereby a company or group with enough money can donate to either of the major political parties, most likely the one that correlates closest in ideology to ram down laws that don’t need to happen, except in to protect said companies interests.

The NBN and daresay the environmental debates would not have occurred to the level they have in this country if it were not for companies with vested interests donating to political parties to take an opposing view.

dungfungus 10:29 am 28 Oct 14

Sophie Trevitt cannot be serious:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/get-zed-cfmeu-donates-50000-to-act-greens-to-bring-down-seselja-20140817-101iyf.html
Let’s not forget also the largest Australia political donation in history was made by Wotif’s Graham Wood to The Greens in 2012.

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