Western Australia's opposition leader is calling for political donation reform following revelations a Chinese developer has paid $25,000 for access to a Labor government leaders forum.
Premier Mark McGowan was quizzed over the donation by developer 3 Oceans on Monday and denied knowing the company had paid to be part of a state leaders’ forum, which provides members with access to top Labor politicians.
“Whatever happens in terms of companies and the like engaged in political donations and whatever is outside my control,” he told reporters.
A high-rise development proposal by 3 Oceans was knocked back in December after the Perth Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority found its “Twin Towers” style design represented “significant overdevelopment.”
Mr McGowan denied his government would change its policy under pressure from donors and said he’d long been a supporter of high-density living.
The WA government supports the project.
Opposition Leader Mike Nahan says a review is needed to preserve WA’s democracy, citing concerns over foreign donations, transparency and parallel funding and property developers buying access to politicians.
“We’re having a donations system that is increasingly looking like the US,” Dr Nahan said.
“Both sides need transparency on the source of funding, the magnitude of the funding and if there are any strings attached.”
But he dodged questions about whether the 500 Club, a prominent conservative Perth group that donates to the WA Liberal party, should disclose the individuals behind donations.
Dr Nahan also called for independent election spending by unions on their own campaigns to be declared.
“That’s the same thing they have in the US, they have these slush funds outside the system,” he said.
The Labor government copped criticism in August for establishing a leaders’ forum after it previously attacked the Barnett government for its own cash-for-access fundraiser.
But Mr McGowan warned against scrapping political donations entirely, saying the alternative was “massive public funding” provided by the taxpayer.