Wednesday, 10 May 2006
Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2005
Mr Deputy Speaker, the bill refers to ‘electoral integrity and other measures’, and I am pointing out where integrity operates and where it does not operate. I am pointing that out fairly bluntly, but I think it needs to be said. You should read my submission to the Senate inquiry on regional sustainability, Mr Deputy Speaker. The minister resigned but he resigned at midday, and I was going in to give my submission at four o’clock that afternoon. If I were him, I would blush with embarrassment and I would hand my resignation in because no decent person, I think, can have done what was done there without seeing it as an onus upon himself to resign.
The money provided is not provided for you to advance the interests of your political party. That money is provided for you. We are using money to fight an election campaign, and the government is saying that we are moving from $1,500 declarable to $10,000 declarable. So what is the money being contributed here? If you are utilising the resources of the country, the government and the taxpayers to campaign—every single one of us is campaigning all the time in a sense—I think there is a point where decent people realise that this is not really about helping the people of the area that we are paid to represent. This is simply about winning a political contest.
Let us turn to the issue. There are people who are very well equipped to trace money, even though they are not legally obliged to trace money, and there are people working on those traces at the present moment. I am absolutely intrigued by the decisions that have been made, for example, in the sugar industry. I am absolutely intrigued by the massive amounts of money that were spent in the last federal election campaign. I was in the party for a long time and my father never had access to $350,000 in election campaign funds. I think I ran three election campaigns federally for the National Party. The first one was not a marginal seat; it was a 6½ per cent seat so, technically, it was not a marginal seat. I had to win a non-marginal seat but the polls were indicating that we were running neck and neck. I can assure you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I did not have $350,000 to knock off the ALP member for Kennedy. I was given very little support at all. Fortunately, I had an income from my superannuation from the state parliament and I was able to campaign full-time for that year.
We are intrigued to know where the $350,000 came from. I give fair warning in this place that there are ways of tracking down this money. We know who has benefited, from the decisions subsequently made in the sugar industry. We know where the benefits have flowed. One company here appears to have got $195 million in handouts. The deregulation of the sugar industry has delivered to the millers literally hundreds of millions of dollars that, under the old system, would have gone to the farmers.
I proudly belonged to the party. I read the book on John McEwen and just felt so proud that I was associated with a political organisation that had been led by such a man, who had instituted for us the world sugar price agreement and who had instituted for us, along with Doug Anthony, the wool scheme, which gave us decent prices for 20 years.