Flat White

The biggest rort of them all

18 August 2016

7:32 AM

18 August 2016

7:32 AM

A stopped clock is … well, you know the rest. And so it was with Buzzfeed yesterday when the Australian Electoral Commission released the details of the final public funding payment to candidates and parties who contested last month’s election.

“Buzzfeed? What is this Buzzfeed, hey?” I hear you ask.

Buzzfeed is a website; a website for moronic millennials whose brains – like the digital devices they so covert – have shrunk and shrunk with advances in technology.

It’s news for idiots, in other words (and if you take a somewhat loose definition of what actually constitutes news).

But it spoke to the simple with such wonderful clarity yesterday that its words should be shared with Spectator types.

This is how much of your money politicians got from the election,” its headline screamed with a suitable lack of subtlety. “Political parties and independent politicians will pocket more than $62 million of public funding from the July 2 federal election.”

It’s $62,778,275.03 to be precise; 262.784 cents for every first preference vote for every candidate and every independent who received over four per cent of the vote, according to the Commission’s indexed formula.

And this is where our tale becomes a Spectator story, although the rest our media should be covering it too.

Our major political parties — the Liberals, the Nationals, Labor and the Greens — are effectively nothing but preselection machines.

Look at the front benches of both sides of parliament — and much of the crossbenches, too.

Virtually everyone you will find is a political professional; a one-time staffer, lobbyist, journalist, head of a peak body, party official, union organiser or something similar — or a hereditary politician, born to the purple.

Naturally the parties that throw this mob up are not mass movements. They may have been, once upon a time. But the ordinary, representative men and women that once swelled their numbers drifted away when they became preferment clubs. What is left are freaks, frauds and fools — and a tiny handful of never-say-dies.

This means that they cannot raise their own funds. But who cares when you can hit up the taxpayer for the bills? The government, the opposition and the crossbench have all joined forces to vote themselves vast sums of money and keep it flowing in at a nicely indexed rate.

As they’ve done it, they’ve had the cheek to say that they’re doing it all for our benefit, that they’re protecting us from the deleterious effects of what they smear as “money politics”.

Donations are willingly given.

Us taxpayers were not consulted about our $62 — nearly $63 — million.

Buzzfeed is right. The situation doesn’t call for subtlety.

It should be called out for what it is: the biggest rort of them all.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments