A Most Dangerous Combination

corruptionPublishing Ministerial diaries while concealing political donations is a corruption minefield, when combined.

I’m glad you asked “why?”

In Queensland, Cabinet Ministers publish their diaries.  If you don’t want it widely known that you’re meeting a Minister* about your business, it can only happen “informally”: for example at a political fundraising function or a social event.

At the same time, the maximum political donation that can be kept secret, has been lifted from $1,000 to $12,800, and caps to how much you may donate have been abolished.

It’s no secret that there have been recent political fundraiser dinners costing $5,000 and more per person, and other functions with higher prices to be seated with particular Ministers – all that’s secret is who paid and with whom they sat.

A lobbyist – smart, observant, politically partisan – might be remiss if they don’t advise a client that in lieu of declaring to the world they are meeting a Minister, they can go to dinner with them, now secretly, at a fundraising event.  They might also advise that it’s worth the higher “Ministerial” price, to maintain secrecy and to talk with the right person.

And regardless of what they discuss, it need not be characterised as a meeting nor diarised.

The public nature of diarised meetings, a business need to keep discussions secret, and the opportunity to pay for secret discussions, is a terrible and dangerous combination.

Paranoid?

Former Deputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (and still a leadership aspirant) Dave Tollner said donations would open his door “if you ever need to talk to me about something”.  On radio, he said people who did not donate faced “a line-up at the door” and that “you have to start prioritising”.  Dave clearly needs to absorb this.

* or the Minister doesn’t want it to be widely known

About Mike Smith

Partner in Ethical Consulting Services: www.ethicalconsulting.com; sometime University lecturer; previously Government Relations consultant; before that Labor Party State Secretary in Northern Territory; union advocate with LHMU/United Voice in NT and NSW; hobby – election campaigns!

Posted on October 29, 2014, in corruption, Culture, Democracy, how to lobby, Lobbying, Politics, Regulatory failure and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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