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Question without Notice: Political Donations

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
27 November 2019

Mr HIBBINS: My question is to the Premier. Nine years ago the then Labor government, which the Premier was a member of, along with the then Liberal opposition joined together to oppose and defeat a Greens motion calling on them to refrain from accepting political donations from property developers. Premier, do you acknowledge that this was the wrong decision
and commit on behalf of this government and its MPs to not accept political donations from property developers?

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) : I do thank the member for Prahran for his question. I was not aware that the ninth anniversary of the defeat of that Greens motion was today. I
am pleased that he has reminded the house of that defeat of that motion. In all seriousness, though, it is very important to acknowledge that in the last 12 months or so it is our
government, not the Greens political party—who I think still hold the record for the largest single campaign donation made to them, and then there was some confusion about how one might declare that too; that took a little while to get there but they did in the end, and that is why we know about it—and with not as much support from those opposite as we might have expected or in fact been led to believe we could count on, that has made profound donation reform in this state. We stand by those reforms.

A member interjected.

Mr ANDREWS: Really? No, interjections are disorderly. I will refrain from taking up that interjection. We have made profound reforms and they see us—I think all of us as a state, as a democracy—in a better position than we have been at any other point. The transparency is very important. Limiting donations is very important. Increasing public funding, the raft of other changes that were made as part of that historic reform—we are proud to have made those changes. At the same time though I do want to make the point that that does not excuse people from properly declaring donations if they were received within the time frame prior to those laws operating. The conduct of the last election will need to be in full accordance with the Electoral Act at that time. There is no question about that. That is why it is always my expectation, and I am very confident, that certainly from the point of view of the Labor Party and anybody associated with the Labor Party there would be full declarations in accordance with the law. The changes that have been made are very important. As is the wont of the Greens political party, they are very keen to take credit for just about everything. This one not so much, I do not think, because it was the Labor government, our government, that made these changes, and they put us in a much better position.

Mr HIBBINS: On a supplementary question, the Premier refers to the donations reforms that have recently been put in place. However, that reform does not cover local government
or local council candidates. In June this year the government did release a policy reform proposal paper for local government that did include a proposed cap on donations to local council candidates, so I ask: Premier, where is that proposal now?

Mr ANDREWS:  I am not quite sure of the link, but anyway the member for Prahran asked a question in relation to legislative proposals and in effect an expansion of
the new regime that covers contests for this place to local government. The government is looking at those matters closely. We think that there may well be—in fact there is—a strong case to have a greater degree of transparency and potentially limiting, capping if you like, much like we have done for state Parliament, in that tier of government.
It is appropriate to consult, it is appropriate to do that work carefully, to draft, to get that right. I cannot confirm for the member for Prahran exactly when we will have an announcement to make on that, but I can confirm for him that relevant ministers and others in government are working on that very matter. If we can bring some of the reform we have made here at our level to local government, that would be a wholly good thing.

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
27 November 2019




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