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Donations Disclosure Laws

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Tags: Political Donations, Electoral Reform, Gambling Industry

Donations Disclosure Laws: Cassy O'Connor MP, 4 March, 2020



As you know, perhaps more than any member of your Cabinet, your party's last state election win was bankrolled by the gambling industry. According to the Australian Electoral Commission returns in February this year, the source of less than a quarter of the money your party received from corporate interests has been declared.

Do you acknowledge what ABC Fact Check confirmed: that Tasmania has the weakest donations disclosure laws in the country? While your predecessor agreed to reform and review the Electoral Act, tepid and drawn out though it is, you appear to have walked away from any strengthening of Tasmania's nation-leading weakest donations disclosure laws.

Premier, what is it: a basic lack of ethics, or a lack of courage? Are you afraid you cannot win without the millions in secret donations from your corporate backers? Are you that scared of a fair fight? You do not want Tasmanians to know who funds your campaigns and what, like the Tasmanian Hospitality Association, your backers might want in return for their contributions. The source of that $4 million you received was not declared.



Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Clark and the Leader of the Greens for her question. The former premier had indicated that he would look at this matter, and I have said publicly that I will do the same. I want to make the point that very clearly, what the Leader of the Greens - the member for Clark - is advocating for is public funding -

Ms O'Connor - Every state and territory in Australia and the Commonwealth has public funding, by the way.

Mr GUTWEIN - We do not have public funding in Tasmania, which means that we do not take money from health or education or other essential services. It is clear that in the election we had two competing policies. One that was advocated by Labor and the Greens, which would have shut pubs and clubs down, and would have cost jobs and caused social dislocation in many regional and rural areas. On the other hand, we had a policy that strengthened the employment opportunities and the investment opportunities for many of those businesses in regional and rural locations. Ours was a job-creating policy. Theirs was a job-destroying policy.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, standing order 45 on relevance. Perhaps the Premier could go to the question, which is: what is it, a basic lack of ethics, or lack of courage, that stops you from enacting donations reform?

Madam SPEAKER - As you appreciate, that is not a point of order. I ask the Premier to continue.

Mr GUTWEIN - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I can understand her wanting to interject and stop me from explaining exactly what the Greens are advocating here.

Ms O'Connor - The question was not about us.

Mr GUTWEIN - Again, the interjection. Bingo! What the member for Clark is calling for is public funding. She has herself indicated -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. The Premier is being misleading about our position and he knows it. There is a suite of reforms that revolve around donations disclosure, and public funding is but one of them.

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order either, so please proceed.

Mr GUTWEIN - I did not think it was a point of order, to be frank, because you said yourself a moment ago that every other jurisdiction gets public funding. We do not in Tasmania, which means we do not take money from health or education or essential services to fund elections. That is the difference. At the election, people had a very clear choice. They could vote for a job-creating policy on this side of the House, or a job-destroying policy on that side of the House.

Ms O'Connor - Who pays the piper?

Mr GUTWEIN - Who pays the piper? You want the piper to be paid by taxpayers in Tasmania. That is who you want the piper to be paid by. I have said clearly that I will look at this matter, but I am very concerned that the taxpayer will end up funding elections, which is exactly what the Leader of the Greens -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. Standing order 45 on relevance. For starters, the Premier has not bothered to go anywhere near the issue of donations disclosure and transparency, and he is deflecting to public funding so he does not have to answer the question.

Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order, and I did hear the Premier state he was going to be looking into it, as was Will Hodgman's policy. Thank you. That is just over four minutes, Premier.

Mr FERGUSON - On the point of order, you would not have heard the interjection that Cassy O'Connor just made during your ruling, but I ask you to instruct her to withdraw that very unparliamentary remark.

Ms O'Connor - Did Mr Gutwein hear it?

Madam SPEAKER - I am sorry, Ms O'Connor, I am not privy to what you said.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Speaker. I stated that the Premier is ethically corrupt because he will not disclose the source of his donations from vested interests. I withdraw that if the Leader of Government Business takes offence on his behalf.

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you, consider it withdrawn.

Mr GUTWEIN - I will finish my comments here. It is quite obvious the member again misled the House in her contribution when she said I had gone nowhere near donations reform, and as you quite rightly pointed out, I had. The former Premier said he would look at this. I have indicated publicly that I will look at this. I am very concerned that the endpoint you want to get to - quite frankly because not many people want to donate to the Greens - is public funding. It is public funding, and you want health and education and essential services to have money diverted from them to fund election campaigns.