In yet another demonstration of his complete isolation from mainstream public opinion, Howard has defended the current system of political donations saying that changing it would be “fundamentally …. an attack on freedom of political activity and expression.”
The fundamental point that people who defend the current system (which does not cap donations) do not seem to understand is that rich people can give more money than poor people. In a democracy, there are many more poor people than there are rich people.
If we assume, and I think many people rightly assume, that political donations come with strings attached then this tilts the playing field in favour of the rich.
I’m sure Howard has some bullshit reason why the Western Australian Liberal party should accept $60,000 in political relations from the Chinese government.
Political donations are designed to help the party get elected. So why would Australian voters want foreign governments supporting any party in Australia.
It’s called influence.
The government has, quite rightly, attacked Sam Dastyari over his acceptance of money and his public support of Chinese government policy and have argued that the money he accepted was for the settlement of a private debt which is true.
But they conveniently ignore the fundamental reason why the money is being given to Dastyari or to the Western Australian Liberals.
It is to cause mischief and to exert influence.
The mischief is easy to see, it’s the influence that is a worrying bit.