Corrupt Labor lose "donations" Iemma forced to act on donationsBy Simon Benson and Joe Hildebrand February 29, 2008 01:40am NSW MPs will be banned from receiving donations of any kind and will have their personal campaign accounts scrapped under the most fundamental reform of party political funding in the country's history. Compelled to act in the wake of The Daily Telegraph's continued exposure of the links between allegedly corrupt developers and the ALP, Premier Morris Iemma will also force developers to declare political party donations when submitting building applications. And Planning Minister Frank Sartor has announced he would remove himself from future major planning decisions in an effort to avoid perceptions of conflict. The changes would rewrite decades of political culture in NSW in which corporations have sought to exert influence and exhort favour from politicians by making donations to individual campaigns. The move follows The Daily Telegraph's revelations this week that both Mr Iemma and Mr Sartor were linked to a questionable developer who donated more than $100,000 to the ALP. It is an admission by the Premier that the entire electoral funding process is rotten and open to potential corruption. It will apply not just to developers but all corporate and individual donors. It has taken the Wollongong ICAC sex scandal and revelations by The Daily Telegraph about the largesse bestowed on the State Government by big business with the expectation of favourable treatment, to prompt the Government to act to clean up the system. The move will put pressure on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to take his proposed plans to change election funding laws much further than flagged. It will also compel other states, all Labor, to follow and introduce national changes to the way political parties not only raise money, but the transparency of their disclosure. The new laws would require: * TWICE yearly disclosures of all political donations - giving NSW the strictest such regime in Australia; * BAN on MPs, councillors and candidates having personal campaign accounts; * BAN on MPs receiving any donations, with all donations to now be submitted to a central fund held by the party; * MANDATORY reporting of donations by developers when applying for building approvals; * MANDATORY reporting by all councils on the voting history of individual councillors on development applications; and * CONSULTATION on further reforms with the Commonwealth with a view to introducing a national system. The planning approval changes have been flagged in a government submission to a parliamentary inquiry on political donations. Mr Iemma's office last night confirmed the changes would be enshrined in legislation in the second half of the year. Mr Sartor said the Government would enact draft recommendations to establish a separate arm's-length process for big developments. The move would prevent councillors from determining developments deemed of state significance or worth more than $10 million - avoiding the temptation for corruption or bias over party donations. However instead of Mr Sartor taking control, he would be able to delegate the approval process to an independent panel. "I said last week the system would change and I meant it," Mr Iemma said. "Under my proposals, MPs will not be permitted to organise or collect donations themselves, enhancing the public's confidence in the system. "These changes may need time but are essential in restoring the public's confidence." But the NSW Opposition said the changes would not make any difference because developers would still be able to donate to a party. The development lobby also criticised the reforms claiming they did not go far enough. The Urban Taskforce is calling for a ban on all corporate donations. "Businesses that make development applications will have to declare their donations, but those making objections to applications will face no such requirement," Urban Taskforce CEO Aaron Gadiel said.