Former Liberal Party treasurer calls for fundamental reform of donations

When former Liberal Party treasurer Michael Yabsley says our political donations system equals ‘governments for rent’, we need to believe him. He’s launched a reform plan in a campaign to drive fundamental change.

Michael Yabsley (Image:AAP/Tracey Nearmy)

Liberal Party fundraising legend Michael Yabsley has called for a transition to a “low-value high volume” political donation system that would force parties to regrow their community links and end what Yablsey calls “governments for rent”.

Describing himself a poacher-turned-gamekeeper, the former treasurer of the federal Liberal Party and long-time critic of donation laws today launched Dark Money, a paper and a ten-point plan to radically alter political fundraising and expenditure. His plan involves:

  • A $200 cap on political donations per individual, covering the entire electoral cycle in each jurisdiction
  • A cap on election expenditure, including advertising
  • Only enrolled Australian citizens permitted to make donations
  • All donations to be anonymous and non-disclosable, as their small size would remove the case for disclosure
  • No other entities, corporations, unions or organisations to be permitted to make donations
  • All public funding of elections to be removed
  • Laws to be enforced with criminal sanctions carrying custodial sentences, including targeting the aggregation of small donations into significantly larger donations
  • National uniform donation laws across all states and territories
  • Electoral commissions to police laws and review caps
  • A bespoke federal/state body to develop a program of election debates and set media pieces during election campaigns.

Yabsley was joined by an array of luminaries for the launch: former Transfield head and deliberative democracy campaigner Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, Labor eminence grise Stephen Loosley, former banker and Women for Election CEO Licia Heath and former judge and Centre for Public Integrity chair Anthony Whealy.

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