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.”
“But ACT Labor’s acting branch secretary Matthew Byrne ruled out any possibility of political interference.”
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.