You are here

Political Donations Laws - Public Release of Report of Review

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Tags: Political Donations, Electoral Reform

Political Donations Laws - Public Release of Report of Review, Cassy O'Connor, 16 September 2020



Yesterday you said you had not turned your mind to the need for donations reform and you made no commitment to ensure the public release of a report that has been sitting on the Attorney-General's desk for nine months. How can that be so, given we asked you about it in parliament in early March, it has been the subject of media reports in recent weeks, and was raised publicly by independent MHR Andrew Willkie in July?

Before you claim your mind has only been on the COVID-19 response, I remind you of the four non-COVID bills that were on the blue yesterday and the major projects legislation which went through in the last sitting. We now know your Planning minister is threatening Legislative Councillors if they amend the major projects bill to include appeal rights and a ban on donations from developers.

Your Government is clearly thinking about political donations but through the lens of electoral self-preservation. Why are you putting political self-interest and the interests of developers over the public interest in getting money from vested interests out of our democratic system? Do you not understand that failure to tackle this crucial issue will be a permanent stain on this term of government, regardless of your other achievements?



Madam Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens, Ms O'Connor, for her question and her interest in this matter. Where I will start is simply this: you talk about major projects legislation as if there is something bad about it. The minister has made our position perfectly clear in this House - and I know Labor is walking away from theirs - but that legislation is about jobs, about ordinary Tasmanians having the opportunity to gain work. It is about enabling us to step out of a pandemic and provide a stronger economy, more jobs and more opportunity for Tasmanians.

You can sit there and shake your head but you know as well as I do that this pandemic has impacted our economy. It has impacted on ordinary Tasmanians, it has affected households, and it has affected communities.

The major projects legislation, as the minister has made perfectly clear, is about providing a pathway that is not linear as it was in the past whereby all processes are followed one by one until after a three- to four-year period a major project gets knocked over. It is about providing an early gateway where we can say that is appropriate or is not appropriate and then the process can follow. It is about providing certainty and jobs.

When I was asked the question in March we were at the start of the pandemic and I have to admit, as I said then, I had not turned my mind to it in the short period of time that I had been Premier. I can honestly say that I have not formed a view on this matter, but I am happy to provide a commitment that once I have formed a view and turned my mind to it we will release that report.

There has been a range of other matters that have been of far more importance to me. The Leader of the Opposition throws across the Chamber when I say I have been working on a range of important matters, she says to me, saving people's lives is something that all of us have an interest in I would have thought. Ensuring that our community is safe is something I would have thought we all had an interest in.

The Leader walks back to the gotcha moment from yesterday and I say to her, try to be a grown up.

In answer to the question, I have not turned my mind to it, but I will. At the moment I am focused on trying to step us carefully out of what has been the most dangerous and damaging position this state has ever been in. We are in a good place and I am hopeful that we can get to a better place. I will turn my mind to that report, and it will be released once I have dealt with the other priorities that are in front of me at the moment.

Quite frankly, on the basis that we do not have an election until 2022, I would have thought focusing on keeping people safe and trying to get them back into work is what we should be doing.