A Once in 50 Years Political Realignment

My latest article to appear in the Sydney Morning Herald and across Fairfax…relates very closely to the ‘kicking up versus kicking down against globalization’ article from a couple of weeks ago.


Coles, Woolies & the Long Chain Economy

Coles and Woolies dealings with the farmers is a powerful case for the ‘long chain economy’.

In the last week we have seen debates about the Murray Darling Basin, the backpacker tax, yet another story about foreign workers being underpaid on farms, and abuse of market power laws that impact on the power struggle between farmers and supermarkets.

These debates have all been treated as separate issues, when in reality they are all about the same thing. They are all about how money is distributed along the food production chain. Continue reading “Coles, Woolies & the Long Chain Economy”

Govt pays 6 times the price for PBS drugs – is dark money the reason?

Govt pays 6 times the price for PBS drugs – is dark money the reason?

In the wake of the Dark Money report, Martin Whitely, a former Labor MP and Executive Director of the Health Consumers Council, got in touch to explore whether political donations could be behind an extraordinary anomaly in our health system.

Martin pointed to a Grattan Institute report which found that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (the program that purchases our drugs and provides them to us at subsidised prices) is paying up to six times as much for the drugs as the Kiwi govt across the ditch. They also pay more than many other state government bodies who also bulk buy drugs.

In the wake of all the noise we have heard about ballooning health costs, it is extraordinary that one of the most expensive items in the federal budget is being allowed to balloon out like this. If we are facing a health funding crisis, why are we cutting nurses rather than cutting the fat we are paying the big pharmaceutical corporates?

Is dark money to blame? Don’t know yet – but it certainly a fascinating issue that we will be looking into.


Donate $20 million with no disclosure – pay on different days

Hi All,

In the Dark Money report I argue disclosure is entirely optional because payments as large as $20million can be concealed through donation splitting. Ie breaking large amounts into small payments that individually come in  below the disclosure threshold.

This claim is often made about payments of $100,000. This based on making payments to separate branches. However the reality is worse. Payments made on separate days do not have to be aggregated. So you can pay $10,000 a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year to eight branches and pay $20m without having to disclose.

My evidence that this is permissable is from AEC guidelines to political parties on how to complete their returns

. http://www.aec.gov.au/parties_and_representatives/financial_disclosure/guides/political-parties/information.htm#part2

Check it out for yourself! They even give an example.