Thanks to James Paterson’s piece last week in the Australian part of The Spectator, I am no longer the lone classical liberal publicly against campaign finance reform.* He notes of the terrible NSW reforms of 2010:
particular industries were singled out for bans, including tobacco, alcohol and gaming. This is in addition to bans on property developers. The list appears to have been drawn up to target businesses the Greens hate the most, so no one should be surprised if logging companies, miners and anyone selling fatty fast foods are added to the list in the future.
Instead of government picking winners, this is a case of government picking losers. The law is even worse than James says, since not all alcohol and gaming interests are banned from donations to political and third parties for NSW elections. It is just the for-profit alcohol and gaming sector, leaving Clubs NSW – long-term big donors – to carry on as before without pesky contrary influence from their commercial competitors. All campaign finance reform redistributes influence within the political class, but rarely is the playing favourites as blatant as this.
The O’Farrell goverment plans to ban all organisational donations – no companies, no unions, no NGOs. Essentially, this is a strike at the capacity of others to finance opposition to the government of the day. Any supporter of liberal democracy should be horrified.
* I temporarily forgot Chris Berg’s criticisms of campaign finance laws. Three people against the rest of the political class.