Our democracy has been corrupted by money

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Our democracy has been corrupted by money


No federal requirement for truth in political advertising. Clive Palmer to spend more than $80million propagating yet more falsehoods prior to the election. A lack of transparency in political donations (The Age, 4/2). Canberra awash with lobbyists who are stitching up deals for their powerful interests. Rorts and pork-barrelling becoming ubiquitous.

It is not unreasonable to conclude our “democracy” has been hopelessly corrupted by money. Tinkering with donation caps will not solve the problem as donors will merely become more creative. All donations come with the expectation of a dividend and thus are corrosive to democracy, so why not outlaw them?

There is no need for private political funding. All that is required for real democracy to function is for each party to present a suite of Treasury-costed policies to the electorate, without any advertising, BS or spin, and let the people decide.
Charles Shepherd, Brighton

What will it take for the major parties to act?

Given the millions of dollars in declared donations and the mega-millions of undeclared donations, we have to wonder whether we will have a federal election or an auction by May. In an election, we get what we vote for. In an auction, the biggest bidders get ownership and use of whatever they have bought.

So what do these big and often secret political donors get for their money? Where is the long promised federal integrity commission? Is either of the major parties likely to do anything voluntarily to stem this flow of dodgy funding? Perhaps an increased number of independents will hasten reform.
Elaine Hill, Warrnambool

Citizens should be only ones making donations

By authorising political donations, company directors place themselves in an impossible position: either they have misused resources of their business for purposes other than the best interests of the business as required by corporations law, or they have attempted to corruptly influence politicians to act to the benefit of the business rather than putting the public interest first. Donations should be made only by citizens, similar to what happens in Canada.
Professor Ken Coghill, department of management and marketing, Swinburne Business School

We urgently need an anti-corruption body

Are we being taken for mugs? We vote for political parties but when they get into Parliament they do as the lobby groups and the donors tell them to do. This is not democracy. It is kleptocracy. Bring on immediate disclosure of political donations and a strong federal anti-corruption authority. Now.
Lou Novak, Rosanna

It’s time for an overhaul of the regulations

Our democracy is under threat from these donations and uncapped electoral expenditure. For example, in the past financial year, gas companies donated almost $1million to Labor and the Liberals. These donations, in turn, influence governmental policies. Remember our “gas-led recovery”.

Australia is currently ruled by big money and big corporations, particularly within the fossil fuel industry. Their lobbying is undermining our ability to tackle the climate crisis.

We everyday Australians need to use our voices and our votes to hold political parties accountable. And, as Catherine Williams and Han Aulby say, we also need an “Australian Electoral Commission that is appropriately resourced and empowered to enforce a bolstered framework” (Opinion, 3/2).
Amy Hiller, Kew

Danger when the media gives money to parties

Nine Entertainment Co, the owner of The Age, donated $27,500 to the federal Liberal Party in 2020 but nothing to Labor (The Age, 2/2). Independent? Always? Clearly not. (The company has since implemented a policy against political donations.)
Judy Ryan, Abbotsford


Dangerous, unnecessary

The Religious Discrimination Bill (The Age, 4/2) is not just about Christian schools acting out their homophobia and reinforcing the so-called message from God in their students and congregations.
It allows any group of like minded people to call themselves a religion and act out any whim they have interpreted as having a divine source. And we have seen plenty of examples of this from our diverse community base, some of them with fatal consequences.

This bill is dangerous and unnecessary. Religions are under no threat from the existing laws. In fact, they have the full protection of the law under the Constitution and receive huge tax benefits along the way, for which we all pay.
John Mosig, Kew

We’re very sorry, PM

Re ‴⁣⁣Some of our students have been vilified’: Citipointe Christian College retracts contract” (The Age, 3/2). Maybe the college’s statement should have read: “We withdraw our contract until after the federal election and apologise to the Morrison government for jumping the gun and causing unnecessary political embarrassment”.
Anne Maki, Alphington

A very modern city

The religious, Christian and history stuff (The Age, 4/2) is coming out of the drawer and being dusted off. One just can feel a whiff of election in the air. It also means the Coalition is doing its best to lose seats in Melbourne. After all, Melbourne looks a bit more interesting than the 1950s version of Australia the Coalition wants to sell to us.
Peter Ross, Port Melbourne

A plea for some respect

I challenge Scott Morrison to spend a couple of days working alongside the nurses who care for the elderly. He has no idea how taxing it is to cope with, and care for, people who are facing their demise, and are worried about their future and the fate of those they are leaving behind.

I chose, as a trained nursing sister, to care for the elderly. Over the years I listened to many wonderful stories – many of them sad. The work was exhausting but, in so many ways, rewarding. The thanks and love from patients and their families encouraged me to persevere for my entire working life.

Dedicated, underpaid people do not respond well to being bribed with a few dollars at the whim of a prime minister who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Lesley Rule, Brighton East

A critical portfolio

It is too easy to see Richard Colbeck’s predicament as personal. As so often, this view distracts from the systemic cause. It is outrageous that any minister should be given aged care as one of two unrelated portfolios. Aged care and sport?

Is aged care so unimportant to this government that it is worth only half a minister’s attention? No wonder it is in a mess, regardless of the minister’s competence. Who hands out portfolios? Yes, I do know the answer.
Janet Gaden, Daylesford

A fatal lack of planning

Can Richard Colbeck and Scott Morrison please take note. The AFL has announced a contingency plan in case players are unavailable to play due to COVID-19 outbreaks (Sport, 2/2). That is called strategic, forward planning to deal with potential risk. When it comes to planning of action to protect those in aged care, I am hearing crickets. Or is that cricket?
Chris Thomson, Soldiers Hill

Keep it in community

Re Dick Davies’ practical ideas on keeping the elderly at home for longer (Letters, 4/2). A simple way to implement this would be to locate responsibility for all levels of home care packages in not-for-profit, community health centres.

These centres, which are managed by community-elected boards, are attended by many local people for a range of health services. It would help to retain elderly people in their community if their home care packages were administered by professionals they may have known for many years, rather than by private agencies staffed by carers from other areas.
Robert Semmens, East Brunswick

Aim for higher standards

Kerri Sackville – “Who hasn’t sent a juicy text?” (Opinion, 3/2) – thanks Gladys Berejiklian for “showing us what it is to be human”. I think there are more dignified, intelligent qualities other than “text-bitching” (to quote Ms Sackville) that we can hold our “leaders” to if we are to live co-operatively as a society.
Carmel Boyle, Alfredton

Danger of opening up

Most of our leaders, federal and state, insist that we must open up and learn to live with COVID-19. The tragic reality of that policy is that many people – children, parents, grandparents and others – will not live with it but die from it.

I supported Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews through the lockdowns because I believed he was doing his best to keep us all safe. He lost me when he allowed himself to be bullied by the Commonwealth and New South Wales and endorsed the current policy. Western Australia is looking good.
Arthur Wintle, Cockatoo

Letting the prices soar

In contrasting the retail charge of $2.80 for a rapid antigen test kit in Stuttgart, Germany with $12 or more in Australia (Letters, 3/2), your correspondent asks: “Is this what is meant by “can-do” capitalism?“. I believe it is a stand-out example of “can charge” capitalism.
Gerry O’Reilly, Camberwell

If you didn’t laugh…

Trying to spread good cheer on Wednesday night, I asked my hardworking radiographer daughter to tell me one thing she had become good at in the last two, difficult years. She replied: “Putting on personal protective equipment”. We did laugh through the tears…
Susan Higgs, She Oaks

Don’t blame us, sir

Re “Coalition defends record on coral reef” (The Age, 4/2). It’s not our fault that our reef is in danger. All the reefs are under threat. It’s climate change, you know, and we have only a 1.3per cent finger in that pie, so it’s the world’s fault, not ours.

Anyway, we did some lobbying and got off detention, so there. And besides that, Sussan Ley says our management of the reef is second to none (’cept there is no real management of it so we are second to zero) so nya nya. And by the way, the dog ate my homework.
Elaine O’Shannessy, Buxton

Exceptions to ‘the rule’?

In his excellent article on Peter van Onselen (The Age, 4/2), Mathew Knott says he “has repeatedly broken one of journalism’s golden, if unwritten, rules over recent weeks: don’t let yourself become the story”. I would suggest that Hunter S.Thompson, George Plympton, and Norman Mailer may feel differently.
Dave Quinn, North Carlton

Pot, kettle and black?

Peter van Onselen described outgoing Australian of the Year Grace Tame as “ungracious, rude and childish” when she met the Prime Minister at The Lodge recently. Some people may consider his confrontation with the Prime Minister at the National Press Club this week as also ungracious, rude and childish.
Trisha Edgoose, Eltham

Where money should go

Scott Morrison seems unable to find sufficient funds to give our aged care workers a well-deserved pay hike. Shutting down Nauru and releasing all refugees from detention would free up over a billion dollars each year. What a great opportunity to demonstrate sound economic management.
Bill Wiglesworth, Castlemaine

Please, Clive, enough

A sense of perspective is crucial as elections loom and politicians play games, but United Australia Party’s big, yellow political advertisements send my karma into a spin.
Mary Cole, Richmond

The key is good advice

A frank, fearless and functioning public service might reduce the number of mistakes that government ministers make as a result of partisan policy-making on the run.
Bill Burns, Bendigo


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Aged care

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Colbeck went to the cricket.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury

The supposed Aged Care Minister needs to be sacked from the Sport portfolio before the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
Sally Mizrahi, Hawthorn

How about a task force looking into the whereabouts of the Aged Care Minister?
Jack Morris, Kennington

Morrison and Colbeck have the same work ethic: do as little as possible for as long as possible, and never be proactive.
Lisa Bishop, Macleod


Be fair to our PM. We know about what he hasn’t done (or has messed up) but what has he done?
Cavell Zangalis, Hawthorn East

Character assassination of our PM will not work. Lefties, try another area.
Lorraine Marshall, Benalla

Political donations are guaranteed to have bipartisan agreement.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton

The silence of major parties on the secrecy of donations is deafening .
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Yes, but which side of the wall in the UAP’s wall are the people free?
Stuart Gluth, Northcote

Albo, if you want to be PM of this country, it might be an idea to pronounce it correctly. It’s not “Austrayah”.
Peter Cash, Lake Wendouree

A loaf of bread costs between $2 and $8. Am I now qualified to lead this nation?
Eric Kopp, Flinders

Boris Johnson has apologised. He is sorry that he got caught.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick


The new school curriculum: teaching history or fiction?
Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside

What a stupid and pompous phrase: unemployment rate with a three in front of it. Why don’t they say unemployment rate under 4per cent?
Peter Price, Southbank

Cohort: another word that, annoyingly, is being greatly overused.
Lynne Johnstone, Lilydale

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