Political parties need to run election campaigns and they need to pay for all the advertising they throw at us. All those flyers you get in your letterbox, the ads on television, radio and online, and those in newspapers, cost huge amounts of money to print, format and produce. So, to raise the money for this, political parties always tout for donations from the wealthy, or from businesses or other organisations. While some wealthy people donate to political parties to which they belong, others and their corporations will try to have you believe that they are great enthusiasts for democracy and they donate to political parties out of the goodness of their heart, whereas what they are actually trying to do is subvert democracy to get what they want. They donate because they think they can benefit somehow. The political parties realise this, so as a quid pro quo they promise to look favourably on these organisations or individuals. That quid pro quo manifests itself as cuts in taxes, decreases in compliance requirements, or to increase subsidies, grants (see below) or contracts to those organisations.
As an example: As a way of ‘rebuilding its reputation’ (sarcasm font) PwC’s acting CEO Kristin Stubbins has instituted a ban on making political donations. She said: “PwC Australia will no longer make political donations. … This includes payments to attend fundraising events, in-kind donations for event hosting/catering and other direct donations. … Although we have always taken the utmost care to ensure our political donations do not create any real or perceived conflicts of interest, we recognise that doing away with political donations is the best way of ensuring the highest standards of governance”1. You have to laugh.
An analysis by the Centre for Public Integrity found the big four consultancy firms – PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG – have donated $4.3m to Labor and the Coalition over the past decade. During that time, the value of their government contracts increased by 400%2. How is that not money laundering?
So, public money becomes money to pay for political advertising. Why is that not a criminal offence? Because that money pays for political parties to advertise so they can get elected to government, and it is the government which makes the rules for political donations. No conflict of interest? Don’t make me laugh.