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  • Peter Francis Fenwick

Regulation of Political Donations is Doomed to Failure

Last week, when Senator Sam Dastyari admitted error in accepting payment for his travel expenses from a Chinese company with links to the Chinese government, discussion centred on the appropriateness of our politicians accepting payment from foreigners.

Which foreign countries might one accept bribes from? Certainly not China nor Russia nor Zimbabwe. But maybe it was a lesser problem if it came from Sweden or France or Britain!

No-one seemed concerned that accepting the payment was wrong per se.

The payment had been declared back in October 2015. Does no-one review this register for appropriateness? Was there no-one in the ALP concerned? Was there no mentor, no John Faulkner, to advise young Dastyari that it was unwise, even unethical, to accept such a donation?

Is the practice of our politicians and their political parties accepting donations from those currying influence so pervasive that our politicians are inured from comprehending that it is wrong?

The ethical failure of the modern democratic welfare state is its belief that it is permissible to take from some citizens and give to others. In practice this leads to the state being captured by sectional interests for their own economic benefit. To solve the problem, we will have to fight false ideologies. We need to change cultural norms.

Attempts to regulate political donations will fail. Corrupt businesses and politicians will find ways around rules. We need to eliminate the authority of government to make laws which favour sectional interests.

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