Some of the biggest property developers in the land will be a lot more cautious from now on when it comes to political donations, with some of the biggest names in the business saying that won’t be making any political donations for the next year. There have been a few issues where developers have made some donations that have looked a little suspicious, and several companies now fear that the continuing bad publicity could seriously tarnish their reputation. For some, however, it might be too late.
The Greens in NSW have been following a link between a controversial development at Killalea State Park and donations to the NSW Labor Party by developer Babcock & Brown. Down in Melbourne more than three-quarters of the 44 corporate donors to the Victorian ALP in 2006 and 2007 were in property, infrastructure, alcohol or gaming, and/or had contracts with the Government, and it all looks a little bit too convenient. There’s now a Facebook group called “stop political donations to the ALP, by property developers”.
As was shown so brilliantly in the first episode of ABCs “The Hollowmen”, the corporate world allegedly has a lot of political power when big donations are involved. However, according to the developers this is all just part of doing business:
“It’s part of the business environment at the moment that people pay donations, not for approvals. They don’t pay for approvals, they pay to get access …
No-one wants to pay them if you don’t have to. We happily support good candidates. We’ve felt we’ve paid the money to ensure we have access when we required it …
We’ve just dealt with it as a factor of business.”
– Hardie Holdings general manager Matt Somers speaking on Four Corners
Either something is wrong with the developers (they say it’s in order to be heard, but in reality it just helps them secure approval for their developments), or something is very very wrong with our governments (why do only the wealthy have a voice in democracy?).