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Aust. pharmaceutical industry, political donations

Donations from pharmaceutical industry to NSW Labor and Federal Liberals - payback for results

Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says during 2004/5 the pharmaceutical industry and Pharmacy Guild of Australia directed unusually large donations to NSW and Federal governments at a time when the NSW government backed down on supermarkets getting a bite of the $9 billion pharmaceutical market.

"Figures released today by the Australian Electoral Commission show that the politically powerful Pharmacy Guild and pharmaceutical companies increased their donations to NSW Labor by almost $150,000 in 2004/5, or six times the amount donated the previous year. They tripled the amount of donations to the Federal Liberal Party in the same period", Ms Rhiannon said.

"This spike in donations follows a time when former Premier Carr planned to deregulate the NSW market for prescription drugs, opening the way for Woolworths and Coles Myer to enter the market.

"The Pharmacy Guild and big pharmaceutical companies lobbied to protect their profits and presumably upped donations accordingly.

"History suggests donations were payback for results. The Prime
Minister successfully pressured Bob Carr to drop deregulation in April 2004, despite this move conflicting with Howard's own national competition policy that favours deregulation.

"This whole sordid story shows donations can distort democracy by allowing rich and powerful business interests to buy access to politicians.

"The public interest is being sold off to the highest bidder and in this case the public is the loser.

"Prime Minister Howard's proposed overhaul of federal donations laws ignores the Australian Electoral Commission's own recommendations to tighten disclosure laws and increase transparency.

"Instead, the donations laws will be loosened, allowing anonymous donations up to $10,000 and with this we will have a reduced opportunity to scrutinise who is giving what as a way of opening doors," Ms Rhiannon said.

© Scoop Media

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