Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program - ripe for rorting
Wednesday, 05 February 2014
Yesterday we reported on the AEC's publication of a report detailing funds raised by Australian political parties, particularly the $3.5M handed over to Labor/Liberal and The Greens by AusAid.
That money is provided under a program set up by the Howard Government in 2006 for the Liberal and Labor Parties - each to receive $1M per annum. It was extended to include The Greens, surprise surprise, during the reign of the PM who gave them anything they wanted.
The Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program has a website which tells us this:
Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program
Under the Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program, funding is provided to the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Greens to support international activities to promote democracy. The objective of the Program is to assist the development of political party systems in partner countries. The program was established in the 2005-06 Budget and moved from the Department of Finance to AusAID (now the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) in 2009. The program is part of a coordinated Australian effort to promote effective governance in developing countries, one of the strategic goals of the aid program.
Results to date
The program’s aims are to:
- encourage representative, accountable, inclusive and transparent democratic political parties
- support effective, responsive and sustainable democratic party processes
- promote shared learning about democratic practices and integrity in party processes, and
- encourage international cooperation between democratic political parties.
Enabling members of political parties to train officials in developing countries is a feature of the program. For example, in 2011 training on matters including campaigning, democratic practices and integrity and policy development and implementation were provided to political parties in East Timor, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.
Start date: 2006
Revised agreement: 2009-2012
Australian Greens joined: 2011
Independent review: September 2011
New phase: July 2012 - 30 June 2015
It was reviewed in 2008 by the Australian National Audit Office.
Its report includes gems like this:
In submitting their annual applications for grant funding under the Program, each party is required to provide details of the purposes for which the grant funding will be used in the year. The grant deeds entered into between Finance and each of the political parties for each year require that the grant funding be spent only in accordance with the grant deed and the Program guidelines. However, there is no requirement in the grant deed for the parties' expenditure to be used for the purposes outlined in their funding application.
It was reviewed again in 2011 by DFAT.
And it looks like exactly what it is. An unnecessary rort that hands big money to the big political parties.
The grants are not subject to any competitive process.
The parties face no threat of missing out on our money.
And the money is only there for the political parties - outsiders need not apply.
I hope the Commission of Audit is taking a close look.
Here's how Labor justified a lazy taxpayer $3 million.