The Guardian February 7, 2001


Editorial:
It's corruption

The Australian media frequently points the finger at other countries 
when corruption is uncovered and not prosecuted but when cynical corruption 
is revealed in Australia it is called "rorting" or some such similar soft 
name.

The publication by the Commonwealth Electoral Commission last week of a 
long list showing the donations given by the big Australian corporations 
and banks, (overwhelmingly to the ALP and the Liberal/National Party 
Coalition), is nothing less than corruption and should be named as such and 
dealt with accordingly.

The Labor Party, at over $30 million, received much more than the Coalition 
parties with only $23 million. If any proof were needed that the main 
political parties in Australia are all well and truly in the pockets of the 
corporations this is it.

Not only do these parties gain large sums from the corporations they also 
receive more millions from the electoral funding that is paid out of 
taxpayers' money. In this way, the main parties get funds from two 
directions  from corporations and from taxpayers.

By way of example, the daily media has given information about the payment 
of $100,000 to the Victorian Labor Party by Kerry Packer's Publishing and 
Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) in 1999 just before the Bracks' Government was 
elected. Before the election, Steve Bracks railed against the secret deals 
made by the Kennett Government and the Crown Casino and threatened that, if 
elected, his government would hold an inquiry. Then came Packer's money 
and, after being elected, no inquiry took place.

Any reasonable person would draw the conclusion that Packer's money bought 
the silence of Steve Bracks' government. Why wasn't either Packer or Steve 
Bracks investigated by the police and charged with corruption so that the 
truth could be brought into the open?

The biggest single donation to any party went to the NSW ALP from a company 
called Markson Sparks Pty Ltd. An amount of $898,215 went to Bob Carr's 
right-wing machine. And why not?

Carr and Treasurer Egan are privatising and outsourcing with the best of 
the Liberals. They worked hard to sell off the NSW publicly owned 
electricity network and were only stopped by strong opposition from the 
trade unions and from Labor Party circles as well. Undeterred, the Carr 
government is now emasculating the NSW railways by outsourcing various 
railway services.

But the extent of corrupt practices is only partly revealed by the 
Electoral Commission's published list.

Australian governments are making numerous commercial deals with 
corporations and covering up their deals (and who is to say how much 
bribery is associated with them) by agreeing to "commercial in confidence" 
clauses. What it means is that the government spends taxpayers' money in 
some shoddy deal and cannot be held accountable. At the same time these 
corrupt politicians give lectures about our allegedly democratic system of 
government.

The financial revelations coincide with the disclosure of the enrolment of 
persons on electoral rolls who are not entitled to vote. Again this has 
been effectively sheeted home to elements of the extreme right-wing of the 
Labor Party in Queensland which has been dominated for many years by the 
top leadership of the Australian Workers' Union, notorious for its pro-
employer attitudes. Not to be outdone, revelations by apparent 
whistleblowers have involved a Queensland member of the Liberal Party as 
well.

It all adds up to a sordid picture of vote rigging and the buying of all 
the major parties by the big corporations.

While workers and trade unions are battling these same corporations and 
workers are being sacked and their entitlements thieved, neither Labor nor 
Liberal governments have done anything to protect workers from the loss of 
their jobs and their entitlements.

For workers to get protection they need to look in another direction. The 
Communist Party believes that a completely new type of government is needed 
 one which is made up of honest politicians who are committed to the 
cause of the working people. Such persons will never be found among those 
who are so easily bribed by the corporations.
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