As the next federal election closes in, the Greens and a growing number of independent candidates say the major parties are now on notice to make concrete changes to clean up politics and show it is not for sale to big donors.
A day out from the Australian Electoral Commission's annual disclosure of political donations, the Greens have announced an election integrity platform calling for bans on political donations from the mining and resources sector, and caps on all other donations over $1000. The party has also renewed its call for a strong federal anti-corruption body and wants a crackdown on lobbyists, real-time donation disclosures and a code of conduct for politicians and staff.
The Greens are hopeful of winning the balance of power at this year's election and, based on the party's interaction with voters, Greens deputy leader Larissa Waters expects integrity will be a priority issue.
"It's clear to us that the public wants a system that's clean and that works for them. It's not for sale to big donors," Senator Waters told The Canberra Times.
"And I hope that the new government will also see that."
The general idea of a Commonwealth integrity commission is accepted by the Morrison government and Labor, although there are different models in circulation and the Coalition is yet to introduce legislation to establish its model. The government's proposed model has been widely criticised as being toothless and was unlikely to pass the Senate.
Senator Waters says voters want change, and the Greens want to start with the influence of fossil fuel companies and billionaires with too much influence on politicians.
They want former politicians banned as political lobbyists.
"People are really pissed off that big money seems to have bought out our politics, and they want their democracy back," she said.
"It's corruption. It's legalised corruption and people are fed up with their democracy not working for them.
"We've just had a really rough trot for the last three years with COVID. They've seen a government bungle everything to do with a pandemic, and yet somehow it manages to find millions and billions for its political donors, particularly the big mining and gas companies."
The newly announced independent candidate for the northern Sydney federal seat of Bradfield, Nicolette Boele, is promising a level of transparency above what's currently required by the law,
"The AEC requires that donors of amounts over $14,500 be disclosed. I will be disclosing donor details of amounts over $1500," she declared at her campaign launch.
"I will also not accept donations from corporations whose reason for existence is profit. I have absolutely no problem with the profit motive - our free market could not exist without it - but it has no place in politics."
"I plan to bring this insistence on transparency to our government. We have a right to know the criteria ministers use in making the many, many decisions that fall within their portfolios. So the kind of sunlight I hope to be able to bring to government may be uncomfortable for some."
The Greens are also pledging to strengthen freedom-of-information laws and the Federal Parliament's register of interests.
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