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catallaxy in technical exile

Is there anything wrong with foreign political donations?

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The news that Tory peer Michael Ashcroft donated $1 million to the Liberal Party has led to the predictable calls for foreign political donations to be banned:

Democrats electoral spokesman senator Andrew Murray said yesterday he was alarmed by the foreign donation. “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” he said. “Foreign interference and influence in Australian domestic politics is absolutely unacceptable. Donations from overseas entities and foreigners must be banned outright.”

From news reports so far, it is not clear that Lord Ashcroft has received anything at all for his money – unlike, for example, the various unions listed as donors to the ALP. But in any case, there is nothing unusual about foreigners trying to influence domestic politics. After all, we have a government department that facilitates foreign communication to the Australian government, a constant flow of foreign visitors offering us their views on Australian issues, and even Senator Murray’s friends in the latte left are constantly warning us that Australia risks the disapproval and ostracism of a mysterious ‘international community’ unless we release all asylum seekers, cut greenhouse gases etc etc.

I certainly don’t agree with all of the views on Australia expressed by non-Australians, but there is hardly an Australian monopoly on wisdom. We would be silly to reject ideas simply because they are ‘foreign’. Further, foreign investors in Australia, on whom we have relied since 26 January 1788, ought to be allowed to act politically to protect their investment. With governments that try to regulate every activity, it makes Australia too risky a place to invest if they cannot have a say in politics. What foreigners, like locals, are not permitted to do is to act corruptly – and that’s why I am not against disclosure laws on large donations (though I am against compulsory disclosure of smaller donations). The knowledge that this donation will become public and news is sufficient disincentive for any corrupt favouring of Lord Ashcroft’s interests in Australia.

Written by Admin

February 2, 2006 at 7:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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