Political donations reform urgently needed to ensure transparency

Greens spokesperson for Integrity of Government and Electoral Affairs Hon Alison Xamon MLC has renewed her call for urgent donations reform in Western Australia, following the release of the Australian Electoral Commission’s Annual Donor Returns.

“Australians deserve an electoral process which represents the needs of the community, but the data released today confirmed the trend Australians have been seeing for decades , that the profit-making concerns of big corporate donors take precedence over the best interests of the community and our planet when it comes to Government decision making,” Ms Xamon said. 

“Huge polluters like Woodside, Chevron, Santos and Adani donated over half a million dollars to the coalition in the lead-up to the 2019 Federal Election,” she said. “It’s no coincidence that now the Liberals are in government pushing for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry despite the fact that Australians overwhelmingly want action to address climate change.”

“And it’s not just the Liberals - we see the Labor party raking in nearly $200,000 last year from Woodside and Chevron,” Ms Xamon said. “As we speak, Woodside and the McGowan government are seeking to approve the Burrup Hub gas plant in the North West of our state that will have emissions many times that of Adani.”

If approved, the Burrup Hub will be Australia’s largest polluter by far and lock Western Australia in to decades of skyrocketing emissions.

“The bottom line is that big corporate donations mean big influence,” Ms Xamon said.

“The scientists have done their jobs and shown us that it’s still possible to take climate action. It doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “But the biggest barrier to climate action is political will.”

“Instead of planning for a rapid and just transition to renewables to keep us safe, the major parties are happily lining their pockets with donations from the coal, oil and gas corporations that are causing this climate crisis.”

“It’s just bad policy-making,” Ms Xamon said. “The WA Labor government won’t be able to meet their own emissions targets if they continue to appease their donors at the cost of our community and planet.” 

Ms Xamon said that the AEC report also demonstrated the need to institute real-time reporting and lower disclosure thresholds.

“Under the WA donations disclosure system, it can take up to 18 months for donations to be reported to voters.”

The AEC minimum donation reporting threshold is nearly 10x higher than the WA one. WA is the only State where parties can ignore the State threshold and only report the donations above the much higher Federal figure.

“This ridiculous loophole in the WA legislation is absolutely leading to gross underreporting of donations and ensuring that voters know where the money is coming from,” Ms Xamon said.