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New report warns against corporate influence

Three major industries are using their power to corrupt Australia’s democratic process, a new report from the Human Rights Law Centre has claimed.

user iconLauren Croft 01 February 2022 Politics
New report warns against corporate influence
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The damning new report, Selling Out: How powerful industries corrupt our democracy, details how the fossil fuels, tobacco and gambling industries use their wealth to manipulate Australia’s democratic processes to put their profits ahead of the wellbeing of Australians. 

According to the report, produced by the Human Rights Law Centre, the three big industries are capitalising on the Australian government’s weak integrity laws. It reveals key ways these industries influence politicians – contributing financially to political parties, lobbying and running public attack campaigns in elections.

Selling Out also details the human cost of this form of legalised corruption and provides clear solutions to stop the cycle of corporate influence in our politics – something which Australian Council on Smoking and Health chief executive Maurice Swanson said was urgently needed.

 
 

“Political donations from the tobacco industry should be prohibited immediately by the federal parliament and all state and territory parliaments,” he said.

“These donations corrupt the political process and undermine and delay the passage of legislation that would significantly reduce smoking in Australia, and the thousands of preventable cases of lung cancer, heart disease and serious lung disease that occur every year in this country.”

According to the HRLC, Australia is falling well behind other advanced democracies when it comes to regulating corporate influence over our federal politicians. Alliance for Gambling Reform head of campaigns Dr Kate da Costa said that urgent reform is needed to make meaningful change.

“Reducing and preventing harm from gambling will benefit all Australians through evidence-based public health measures. These common-sense reforms will reduce the burden on services and save governments money. These initiatives should always prioritize individual and community health above profit taking for a few,” she said.

“This report shows how that is simply not happening in Australia – the gambling industry can protect casinos which break the law, have ministers removed from portfolios and slow down reforms designed to keep organised crime out of community spaces. We know the community supports reforms to poker machines and sports gambling advertising – this report clearly spells out why those reforms are not happening.”

Human Rights Law Centre senior lawyer Alice Drury added that reforms would help make Australian democracy stronger and healthier.  

“In a healthy democracy, the best interests of people, communities and our planet are at the heart of every single decision our government makes. But right now, big industries like fossil fuels and gambling are distorting democratic processes to win political outcomes that put their profits ahead of our wellbeing,” she said.

“Australians support reforms to make our communities less addicted and our environment healthier, but the fossil fuels, tobacco and gambling industries are building political power to block sensible regulation. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are solutions that our Parliament could pass tomorrow to make our democracy stronger, and ensure our elected representatives listen to us, the people.”