Mining Companies Buy Political Influence in Australia, Report Says – by Michelle Innis (New York Times – June 29, 2016)

SYDNEY — Political donations by mining companies preceded legislative approval for several Australian mining operations, including plans to develop the country’s biggest coal mine, according to a report by an independent Australian policy institute released on Thursday.

The report, by the Australia Institute, examined six cases where mining companies made donations to Australia’s major political parties and received favorable legislation for mining projects in the state of Queensland.

The report contends that the donations from the mining industry bought access to Queensland state officials, giving the industry an “undue influence on our democratic processes” and resulting in decisions that “have poor outcomes for our environment, economy and our communities.”

“Taking money from mining companies undermines the integrity of political decision-making,” Mark Ogge, the report’s co-author said in an interview. “It should be illegal. It is a conflict of interest.”

The report, written with the Australian Conservation Foundation, was released two days before Australia’s national elections, which are Saturday. While the timing appears intended to highlight the influence of the mining industry in politics — Australia’s campaign finance laws do not require disclosure of donations to major parties until months after the fact — the report does not refer to any contributions in the current election.

The report’s primary focus is on the Liberal National Party, led by Campbell Newman, which governed Queensland from 2012 to 2015, and his successor, Annastacia Palaszczuk, of the Labor Party, who took office there in 2015.

For the rest of this article, click here: