Deputy Speaker, the poker machine industry bankrolled the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s most recent state election win, and now it’s in line for a thumping $350 million windfall in virtually gifted poker machine licences and, with them, dramatically lifted business and property valuations.
In other words it’s payday for the industry that effectively doled out mountains of cash to the Tasmanian Liberals, 40 per cent of which came from gambling addicts, and which now looks forward to its taxpayer-funded reward.
And federally it’s much the same with donations made, favours returned. And the laws are so weak that most of the time we don’t even know who’s dishing out the cash, as evidenced by the Centre for Public Integrity which finds that hidden donors gave more than $1 billion to federal political parties over the past two decades. No better than wads of cash in brown paper bags.
And no wonder the community demands reform, like a cap on donations, a $1000 disclosure threshold, real-time reporting, bans on donations from dodgy industries and industries prohibited from making donations under state and territory laws, and recognition that a donation is any expenditure that benefits a candidate or party, like the campaign we saw from the poker machine industry in Tasmania. But instead all we get is legalised corruption, and wilful ignorance of what that $350 million could have done for the Tasmanian community.