Results of Elections in Tasmania Show Gambling’s Influence in the Region

Results of Elections in Tasmania Show Gambling’s Influence in the Region

Recent data released concerning Commonwealth donations indicates that there are apparent flaws in the political system for donations. The contributions that are made to political parties are revealed after an event, sometimes up to 19 months. There are also times when the donations are not revealed at all.

Most states operate regimes that are transparent, especially these days. Therefore, the only logical explanation for why Commonwealth donations are not always being reported is that political leaders do not want citizens to know the source(s) of the donation funds. The details included in the recent data gives clues that indicate why the fund sources are being kept a secret.

Where Did the Tasmanian Election Money Come From?

australian cashThe most surprising information in the data is the extent of political funds that came from the gambling business. These funds were used in the Tasmanian election in March of 2018. Tasmania depends on the Commonwealth’s processes and rules to make all donations public.

One of the biggest issues in the election was the future of poker machines in clubs and pubs. Tasmanian Labor proposed to do away with the machines by 2023. However, liberals would rather the poker machines stay in the Commonwealth for 25 years or more.

Hotel lobbies also ran a campaign during the March 2018 election. Several commentators were suspicious that lobby groups in favor of gambling were using political donation funds to support their agendas. Liberals only recently revealed the source of their donations and the amount of donations they received.

The Tasmanian Liberal Party won the election and claimed that over A$400,000 from pro-gambling organizations was donated to the campaign. This equals about 90% of all the party’s reported donations. The amount is also ten times more than the amount of pro-gambling group’s donation in the previous election.

A$50,000 was donated to the campaign by Federal Group. This organization is a family business that runs gambling establishments and casinos across Tasmania. Donors in support of gambling did not give any funds to Labor. Labor Tasmania receives just A$160,000 in donations for the entire year.

Relying heavily on one industry to donate political funds raises the risk of biased influence when it comes to policies and laws. Tasmanian natives are encouraged to question how this affects the flow of donations from the gambling industry into the region’s democracy.

Some Funds Are Still Hidden

unrevealed donations in TasmaniaThe example of secret or unrevealed donations in Tasmania is yet another example of the limited information the Commonwealth regime provides. Voters in Tasmania had to wait nearly a year (11 months) to know where the donations came from. In the age of instant online communication and the internet, there is no logical reason why voters had to wait this length of time. In many Australian states, political donations are revealed in close to real time.

Donations that go to Tasmania also indicate issues with the disclosure threshold. Parties are required to declare donations of A$13,800 or greater. However, these political parties are not obligated to release donation details because of the threshold. This is the case even if a donor makes several smaller contributions that are greater than the threshold in total.

According to the Tasmanian Hotels’ Association, two days before the election, the organization gave A$57,000 to the Liberal Party in seven donation installments. Since each separate donation was under the threshold, the contributions were not declared in the Liberal Party’s report. The only way citizens can find out about these donations is to speculate which company or individual may have donated and/or to research donor records.

This is a significant issue, and national returns for political parties confirm this. About 50% of funding for the Coalition and one-third of ALP, funding is unknown to the public. These funds are likely donations that are below the threshold for disclosure. Some donations are from citizens who donated small amounts to the political party of their choice. However, many of the donations come from businesses that split their donations to avoid having to declare them.

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