Archive for July 31st, 2011

Vested and public interests

Back in January, Wotif founder Graeme Wood attracted media attention for making the largest ever single donation to a political party, $1.6 million to the Greens:

Mr Wood said his donation was motivated by disappointment with Labor and Coalition policies on climate change and the environment.

“I didn’t think either of those parties were being effective,” he said. “They were being driven by people with vested interests.“(emphasis added)

But in an a story for the Weekend AFR (paywall) Wood says that he:

..saw the $1.6 million donation as a defensive move that saved him many millions of dollars.

“I was a bit concerned that if the Coalition got in a lot of my investments in environmental causes would have been down the plughole.”

Admittedly Wood’s environmental investments do not from this article seem highly oriented towards returning a profit. But what is a ‘vested’ interest and what a ‘public’ interest position is often not self-evident; those who face financial ruin from environmentalist causes would presumably see themselves as representing a public interest, and Wood’s desire to protect his investment in those causes as a vested interest.