What do you call it when a political party says one thing but does another? What do you call it when a party takes the high moral ground on an issue, only later to have been found out to be doing the very same thing they were condemning? I will let the reader decide, but words like hypocrisy, duplicity, and gross double standards certainly come to mind.
The Greens have long spoken on reform of funding policies for political parties. They have sought to demonstrate their moral superiority by chastising other parties for receiving large donations. They have said this is a threat to democracy.
For example, the Greens have websites dedicated to this, such as the democracy4sale site. They moralise about the corruption which attends big donations to political parties. Consider just several – of many representative quotes – from these guys:
“The Greens believe it shouldn’t have to take someone hours of painstaking research to get basic information on political donations. Big donations to political parties are extremely dangerous for our democracy. We urgently need much greater transparency and accountability by all political parties in how and when they disclose where they get their money from.”
Or consider these comments from the Greens: “Ideally in a democracy each voting citizen should have equal political power. When parties become dependent on large donors who constitute a small but wealthy section of the community, this principle is threatened. The perception that corporations and wealthy individuals are able to gain a greater degree of access and influence within politics can promote community distrust and disengagement from the political process.”
So what do the Greens propose? “Corporate donations have the potential to undermine the democratic principles of political equality, accountability, transparency and integrity. We propose that there should be a ban on all corporate and group donations (i.e. trade unions, lobby groups). Only individual citizens should be allowed to make political donations, up to a limit of $1,000.”
Gee, this all sounds very good, doesn’t it. Yet of interest is the fact that the very first thing one sees on the Greens home page is this in big letters: “DONATE NOW”! And what do we find in today’s papers? Check out this headline: “Web millionaire bankrolled Greens”. The story begins this way:
“A multimillionaire internet entrepreneur worried about climate change bankrolled the Greens’ federal election surge last year by making the largest single political donation in Australian history. Wotif founder Graeme Wood, whose wealth is estimated at $372 million, gave $1.6 million to fund the Greens’ television advertising campaign, helping to significantly increase votes for the party in key states. The Greens will hold the balance of power in the Senate from mid-year.
“Mr Wood’s benevolence helped the Greens, led by Senator Bob Brown, boost their national profile. They captured their first lower house seat and, with key rural independents, gained increased leverage over government policy. His donation easily surpasses the previous record for a single private political gift – $1 million handed to the Liberals at the 2004 election by conservative British politician Lord Michael Ashcroft.”
Now the merits or otherwise of political funding and campaign donations can be debated, and in future articles I may well address such topics in greater detail. There may well be a case to be made in fact that some reform might be in order. But the details of such policies I will leave for another time.
Here I simply wish to point out the obvious. This is simply another example of Green hypocrisy, and another good reason why we should avoid them like the plague. For all their talk about honesty and transparency and openness, they seem no different than any other political party, and are just as happy to take anyone’s money.