Former PM Kevin Rudd calls for ban on union and corporate donations

UNION and corporate donations should be banned to prevent corruption in the political process, former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd says.

In the wake of the recent United States presidential election, Mr Rudd said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull needs to undertake radical donation reform where union and corporate donations are banned, individual donations are capped at $1000 and there is a cap on how much can be spent at an election which instead should be publicly funded.

“The truth is corporate donations, if you look at what’s happened in the United States, ultimately corrupt the politics of a country and we have an opportunity now to do something radical about it,” Mr Rudd said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“I would strongly urge Turnbull to consider this Canadian reform.

“The Canadians brought on campaign finance reform in the early days of the Harper conservative government and the Canadian reforms essentially abolish corporate finance for donations to political parties, impose a cap on how much an individual can donate and most critically impose a cap on the total amount that can be spent nationally and within each Canadian electoral district for each national campaign.”

Mr Rudd’s comments go further than Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s call this week to ban foreign donations.

His remarks are likely to irritate the Labor Party, which relies heavily on union donations.

Mr Rudd criticised Mr Turnbull’s decision in Opposition to vote against political reform which would have capped individual donations at $1000.

“Turnbull could have changed the face of Australian politics nearly 10 years ago had he had the guts to back my government’s legislation for political reform then,” Mr Rudd said.

“Had we done that then, then you would have had a fairer and transparent system of campaign donations in this country then we currently have including reducing this ridiculous $10,000 limit down to $1000.

“It’s very easy to stack a room full of 1000 people contributing $10,000 each in order to raise a lot of money anonymously for a political campaign.”

But now, Mr Rudd said he has realised more “radical” donation reform is needed after witnessing the recent presidential election in the United States.

“I observed what can happen through wholesale, largely unrestricted campaign finance in the United States,” he said.

“It’s not a mad socialist plot, it’s brought in by the Canadian conservatives.”

Mr Rudd caught up with The Daily Telegraph while on a short visit to Australia from the United States, where he is president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and a fellow at Harvard.

As prime minister, Mr Rudd said he did not experience corruption as a result of foreign or corporate donations but is aware it is possible.

“I did not experience that difficulty but I could understand systemically how that could evolve,” he said.