Wednesday, 4 March 2015
Donations to Political Parties
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 632 standing in my name for today relating to political donations.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Fisheries Association (ASBTA) recently donated $320 000 to the federal branch of the South Australian Liberal Party, $250 000 of which was donated before the 2013 federal election,
(ii) Fairfax Media reported on 24 February 2015 that ASBTA Chief Executive, Mr Brian Jeffriess said these donations were decided in 2010 after the then Labor Government reduced the tuna quota in 2010, and
(iii) during the 2014-15 additional estimates hearing of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee on 23 February 2015, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Senator Colbeck, gave evidence that fisheries quotas used to be set politically, but are now set by an independent commission, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, based on science; and
(b) calls on the Liberal Party to return the $320 000 donation to ASBTA as an act of good faith to demonstrate that the fisheries quota system is independent, science based and beyond the reach of political donations.
Notice of motion altered on 3 March 2015 pursuant to standing order 77.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
We have a one-off donation of $350,000 to the Liberal Party from the Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association on the one hand and, on the other, a statement on the public record that suggests it was politically motivated around the setting of a fisheries quota. Parliamentary secretary Senator Colbeck has met with the Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association and said that the idea of this donation was discussed. He has also said in estimates that fisheries quotas are above politics and based on science. I am happy to take him on his word if he gives back the donation to the Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association.
Order! I will have some order across the chamber. First of all, in relation to the timing of your remarks, Senator Whish-Wilson, you did stray, I think, from your written comments. So there is no additional time. The clock was paused during the point of order.
As is usual, the government does not accept the premise or the construction of the motion of Senator Whish-Wilson, but I must admit that I was, before the moving of this motion, beseeched by a Tasmanian colleague to make a few observations. But I think I have now been beseeched by all my colleagues to make this observation: we should not forget the Australia Greens remain the recipient of the largest ever single donation from an individual in Australian political history. A $1.68 million donation from Mr Graeme Wood was negotiated by the then leader of the Australian Greens, Mr Bob Brown, who was quoted in The Age newspaper on 8 January 2011, saying he would be 'forever grateful'. Mr Wood said that when the Greens win and gain the balance of power that would probably be a good return on investment.
Honourable senators interjecting—