Saturday, 5 April 2008

Ban on political donations a world first, says Labor

THE proposal by the Premier, Morris Iemma, to ban all political donations would not only be a national first, but an international first, the NSW Labor Party's general secretary, Karl Bitar, told a parliamentary hearing yesterday.

Mr Bitar said the Premier and he hoped to have the system running by the next state election but he expected consultation with other political parties on the reform to take at least six months. He could not say how much the public funding of $11 million for elections would be increased if donations were banned.

The chairman of the committee, Reverend Fred Nile, pointed out that presently political parties were spending a total of $65 million on the state election.

Mr Bitar told the political donations inquiry that, although some countries had much greater public funding than Australia and NSW, none had banned donations. But he said the Government was keen to make it happen in NSW.

Earlier the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was criticised at the hearing over a rental donation for the use of premises in Pyrmont during the last council elections. In her electoral return, Ms Moore claimed the value of the donation was worth $950, although real estate agents' estimates were about $3600. In hearings yesterday, Cr Moore sought to avoid answering questions on the gift, saying she would take them on notice.

Cr Moore described some of the comments made about the gift as being ludicrous. "I will respond in detail," she said.

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