Despite Liberal and Labor MPs receiving generous political donations from three NSW universities the Abbott government has failed to recognise that this is an abuse of public funding, Greens higher education and democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.
Last night in Senate estimates, Assistant Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham and Associate Secretary Robert Griew were questioned by Senator Rhiannon about political donations made by universities.
Link to the proceedings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mnnc68PCUZo
"Not only did Senator Birmingham fail to rule out that universities do not use Commonwealth public money for political donations, it also became very clear there are no mechanisms in place to ensure public money is not used for political donations," said Senator Rhiannon.
"Mr Griew says the Commonwealth Grants Scheme Funding Agreement specifies the funding to universities is to be used for the purpose of delivering education research, yet under questioning it became apparent that there are no measures in place to ensure this occurs.
"It is extraordinary that the University of Wollongong which is a part of the Commonwealth Grants Scheme Funding Agreement has donated over $25,000 to political parties with more than $21,000 going to the Liberals in the last four years.
"The public have a right to know the name of the other two NSW universities that have made political donations, with that money most likely coming from the public purse.
"The public also have a right to know if the University of Wollongong did use any public money for political donations.
"Political donations have a corrupting influence, and public universities should not be engaging in such activities.
"The federal and state governments need to immediately take leadership on this and put an end to public money ear marked for universities flowing on to political parties," said Senator Rhiannon.