Quit Victoria backs Rudd's plan to reform political donations

Monday 25 February, 2008

News the Rudd Government is planning to reform political donation laws as a key priority has been welcomed by Quit, who have expressed concerns about the political influence of powerful tobacco companies.

The Australian Labor Party implemented a policy to reject tobacco company donations in 2004, however big tobacco companies have continued to make substantial donations to other political parties.

Due to changes in legislation in 2006, which increased the disclosure threshold of political donations from $1500 to $10,000, these donations also became easier to hide.

Executive Director of Quit Victoria, Ms Fiona Sharkie, called for an end to tobacco industry political donations and also supported a move to decrease the disclosure threshold to make donations more transparent.

"Tobacco donations to political parties should raise concerns for all Australians on whether political parties can get tough on tobacco companies to address the devastating health damage caused by cigarette smoking," said Ms Sharkie.

"Tobacco is unlike any other product on the Australian market in that it will kill the majority of lifetime users."

"Anyone would have to question, given the deadly nature of this product, whether tobacco donations translate to the tobacco industry having too much political influence."

Ms Sharkie said that it was important that any legislation to end tobacco industry donations also covers donations made through third parties.

"The tobacco industry are notorious for giving money to corporate entities who then make donations or loans to political parties."

"Any reforms in this area should be detailed enough to capture the tobacco industry backdoor tactic of using front groups to establish some kind of political favour," said Ms Sharkie.