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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

selling ministerial access « Previous | |Next »
March 28, 2006

I read an op. ed. by Tony Harris in today's Australian Financial Review as I flew into Canberra this morning. Harris is addressing the issue of lobby reform and he highlights why we need to start thinking about reform. He says:

I have been authoriatively told that some lobbyists have recently had to make donations to the Liberal Party when their clients were granted ministerial appointments. Paying for an appointment with ministers in their office takes money-raising to a new low.

UScartoonCoombs.jpg
Paul Coombs

Yet payment for access is common in liberal democracy, is it not ? Is not the practice by both major parties of selling places at the ministerial dining table to raise funds a corrupt one? Yet it is accepted as legitimate and not in need of reform.

Lobby reform is not on the political agenda in Canberra, is it. So payment for access as a form of fund raising is only going to increase. We are walking down the American road where big busnss sets the policy agenda.

There paying for access to Congressman is par for the course . Jack Abramoff, the once-powerful lobbyist, lavished luxury trips, skybox fundraisers, campaign contributions, jobs for their spouses, and meals at Signatures, the lobbyist's upscale restaurant. This gives access to the Congressman and the lobbyist policy agenda is connected to campaign contributions. Abramoff's influence peddling on Capital Hill goes close to bribery through the use of earmarking of legislation.

Update: 29 March
Alan Mitchell argues about a different conception of corruption in today's Australian Financial Review--one based on the politicizing the public service. He says that the government's insistence on loyalty from its public servants has helped create the enviorrnment in which corruption went unchecked. This is an environment in which public servants area afraid to to pass on bad news or alert the government to their reasonable suspicions. MInisters are encouraging public servants to withhold politically embarrassing information, and in doing so are guilty of corrupting a critical process of government.

So we have two forms of corruption in Australian democracy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:23 AM | | Comments (5)
Comments

Comments

I am amazed how cheap politicians are. IIRC Rick Santorum introduced potentially monopolising legislation to support AccuWeather (in his state) for $6,000 USD. *I* could buy legislation for that price.

well cheap for big business. The ngo's cannot afford to pay for this kind of access.

Gary, NGOs can't offer quarter of a million dollar salaries for ex-parliamentarians when they leave politics?

Cameron,
there is a difference between an ngo and a lobbyist company.The lobbyist form of influence peddling leads to the world of Jack Abramoff---and to a Beltway bandit

Sorry, should have put a sarcasm tag in my comment. incidentally, we recently got invited to an inauguration. My wife had donated $100 to a candidate, and that was enough for an invite.