Do you think public funding is an equitable system of political donations in regards to funding
campaigns? Is it simply a case of making the dominant parties, Liberal and Labor, stronger?
- Can you think of examples of private or public political donations and corporate funding having a
positive effect on determining policy, infrastructure etc.?
Political donations have always been a thorn in the flesh of many a politician and political party
across the globe and closer home in Australia as well. Australia being a developed country
prides itself with its democratic system which is essentially governed on the principle of fairness
and equal representation of the population in the governance of the country. Political donations
in themselves fall into what is considered freedom of expression, but the fact that these could be
used o manipulate democratic processes by handing power to the so to say ‘highest bidder’ make
it somewhat of a complicated process (Clemens, 2015). This exercise seeks to briefly illustrate
the seldom covered positive aspects of this issue.
The issue of public funding as a matter of public interest has led to several pieces of legislation
that ensure the integrity of Australia’s democratic integrity remains untainted. The first example
of such a policy came into play in 1984. The law sought to limit the influence of corporates in
the country’s legislative system. While this did not automatically eliminate the influence of
corporates, it served as a prime-mover in an avalanche of discussions and legislations that would
protect the power of the people. Public funding also served to bring about accountability to the
electorate by the politicians and this would lead to the resolution of issues the population is
facing and not the streamlining of the business environment for the sake of a few corporates at
the expense of the public (Smith et al, 2012).
The regulations on disclosure have also helped a great deal by highlighting the biggest private
donors. The relatively low threshold for disclosure means that the public can monitor the
activities of political parties especially with respect to the way they legislate and compare this to
the laws they make. Any incidence of bias will then be more easily reported and investigated.
Special interest groups in the public domain such as workers also have a chance to support
parties that look into the interests of their members and this has been seen in the close
relationship between the labor party and trade unions which represent workers. This way it is
easier to lobby for legislation that looks into the protection of workers’ rights (Gauja, 2013).
Clemens, E. (2015). The Democratic Dilemma: Aligning Fields of Elite Influence and Political
Equality. In Elites on Trial (pp. 223-241). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Gauja, A. (2013). Political parties and elections: Legislating for representative democracy.
Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..
Smith, R., Vromen, A., & Cook, I. (Eds.). (2012). Contemporary politics in Australia: Theories,
practices and issues. Cambridge University Press.