Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Who is funding the campaigns?

Newcastle Greens
27 August 2008

The Greens Lord Mayoral candidate for Newcastle, Cr Michael Osborne, today called on other groups and candidates in the Newcastle council election to publicly disclose the sources of their campaign funding before election day.

“Well before 13 September, I will issue to the media, and post on my campaign blog (at Michael Osborne's Blog), an up-to-date statement of all the sources of our Newcastle council election campaign, so voters can see for themselves where The Greens’ money is coming from,” Cr Osborne said.

“The Greens have nothing to hide about our campaign funding, and we believe the best way to allow voters to make an informed choice and to avoid a Wollongong-style scandal in Newcastle is for other candidates to make a similar commitment,” he said.

Under current state electoral disclosure laws, voters and the media won’t know where campaign funding has come from until months after the election.

“Some groups (such as the Newcastle Labor team) claim that they are not accepting developer donations.

“Newcastle voters might wonder about this when the same team swaps preferences with a developer-friendly candidate (Aaron Buman) who has publicly stated that his campaign aims to get rid of Greens councillors, who have actively campaigned for political donation reform for many years.

“Spin it as they might, Labor’s preference swap with Aaron Buman makes Labor a partner in a campaign to prevent the election of candidates of the only party that has consistently opposed developer donations. This raises serious questions about Newcastle Labor’s credibility and integrity,” Cr Osborne said.

“Voters are entitled to ask whether this really is a new-look Labor team committed to reforming the electoral donations system, or just another Iemma-style, developer-dressed wolf disguised in local sheep’s clothing.

“Recent media revelations have exposed Labor council candidates in Sydney who have campaigned on a ‘no developer donations’ platform, only to receive money filtered through sources financed by developers.”

Cr Osborne said that the community was also buzzing with rumours about who was bankrolling the campaigns of various Independent candidates.

“People are asking where the money is coming from for both Lord Mayor John Tate’s and Cr Buman’s campaigns.

“People vote Independent in the often mistaken belief that the person they’re voting for really is independent of outside influences. Electoral disclosures – lodged long after election day - often tell a different story.

“Voters deserve to have this information before they vote,” Cr Osborne said.

In the previous (2004) council elections, local media revealed that developer money was behind the failed Hunter Citizens campaign in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

“When voters realised who was bankrolling it, the Hunter Citizens campaign collapsed. But the electoral success of independent candidates would not have been lost on those behind the Hunter Citizens campaign.

“Where is this developer money going in this election?” Cr Osborne asked.

“Have these developers now discovered a more effective way of concealing their influence, by filtering their money through local developer-friendly candidates who campaign under the ‘Independent’ label?”

[Note: Newcastle Greens does not accept donations from developers, or from any corporations or organisations]

For further information or comment, contact Michael Osborne on 0439 442 984.

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