No Right Turn looks at the Australian and UK problems with cash-for-access to ministers.
New Zealand isn’t the only place currently seeing a cash-for-access scandal. In Australia, the federal Treasurer has a similar arrangement to the National Party, selling access to a donors by membership of a “club”. And in the UK, the co-treasurer of the Conservative Party has said publicly that £250,000 gets you a private dinner with the Prime Minister and been forced to reveal who has bought access. And the reaction is the same as well: revulsion from the public, incomprehension at why we consider it a big deal from the politicians and their club of insiders. For them, big payoffs and influence peddling are normal and vital sustenance for their political machines. Intestinal parasites no doubt feel the same way about the flow of shit which surrounds them. But to an outsider, both are repulsive.
As for the solution, the New South Wales opposition has just introduced a bill requiring MPs to make monthly declarations of their financial interests (including spouses and dependants) and Ministers to declare every meeting, phone call, or other interaction where financial decisions are involved. That’s not enough – as we’re seeing in NZ, its not just money donors are after, but its a start. Ultimately though if we want to end this corrupt culture, we need to cut donors and their money out of the loop entirely, and that means public funding for political parties. Anything less, and we’re simply letting corruption continue.