It’s not often to hear a politician talk openly and honestly about what is given in return for campaign donations. Full marks then to the former Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister David Tollner for declaring donations would open his door “if you ever need to talk to me about something”. Speaking on 105.7 ABC Darwin on Friday Mr Tollner said people who did not donate faced “a line-up at the door”, explaining “you have to start prioritising”.
The ABC website reports:
Mr Tollner said it was “extraordinarily difficult” for political parties to raise funds for campaigning.
He said it was “incredibly important” for the democratic system that parties and candidates have the funds to run what he said was a “legitimate campaign”.
“But there will always be a question in people’s minds… what is someone donating for?” Mr Tollner said.
“When I have talked to people about donating money and the like, the best you can say is ‘your donation will open my door if you ever need to talk to me about something’.
“You are supporting a democratic process and are supporting a conservative view of the world… but you can’t buy anything more than that.”
Asked if people who did not make a political donation could make an appointment to meet with a government minister, Mr Tollner said the wait could take a while.
“When you become a minister you find quickly there is a line-up at the door… you have to start prioritising,” he said.
He denied there was any issue with having the ear of a government minister because of political donations.
“Getting an audience with someone is not giving [them] a great favour,” Mr Tollner said.