Over the past few years, the rivers of private donations to political parties have grown into a flood of Queensland proportions. In the the past five years, including the 2007 and 2010 elections, the two major parties have enjoyed donations of over $700 million.
Under the Electoral Act, large donors, and the parties they supported, have to be publicly reported through the Electoral Commission. But there are too many loopholes which seriously erode the transparency. The Rudd/Gillard governments have admitted reform is necessary, but it has apparently been put on the back burner.
However, NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell has come to the party. His proposed reforms will pass the parliament, as the Greens have promised to support them. When the legislation comes into force, the NSW law on private donations to political parties will be the toughest in Australia.
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The Gillard government, in concert with the Greens, is planning to toughen up privacy laws. The immediate spark for this has been the appalling electronic hacking by the News of the World in the UK.
A cynic could say that this re-kindled interest in personal privacy is an attempt to put the carbon tax issue out of peoples’ minds.
There is a federal Privacy Act, which prevents private organizations from obtaining information about people without their consent. There is a federal Privacy Commissioner, whose task it is to monitor and act on breaches of privacy laws.
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Public nudity is a funny old thing.
On one hand, letting it all hang out is the most natural thing in the world. Yet – like a small child who leaps suddenly from behind a door shouting “boo radley” – the sight of fully fledged human nudity can be arresting if unexpected.
New South Wales upper house candidate and gay activist Stuart Baanstra certainly disturbed the political equilibrium when he disrobed publically during his campaign for today’s state election.
Described variously as “a political nudist”, “a passionate nudist” and “a softly spoken former employee of Australia Post”, Baanstra used to be a member of the Greens and once went to court for refusing to fill out the Census.
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