Business Council to flood election with corporate cash

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The Turnbull Government's Budget is unfair, says GetUp (Image via @GetUp)

The Business Council has a war chest of $26 million to help the Turnbull Government win the next election and get an $80 billion pay-off for its 130 members. GetUp national director Paul Oosting says his organisation's 1 million members will be working hard to stop them.

THE Turnbull Government's planned $80 billion tax giveaway to big business is stalled in the Senate. That means the Coalition must now defend the unpopular policy all the way to the next federal election.

In a climate where wages are flat, inequality is nearing record highs, the Banking Royal Commision is all over the news, and 732 large corporations pay $0 tax, gifting tens of billions of dollars in public money to the top end of town will be a hard sell.

And so it should be. In Australia today, the top 1% now in control of as much wealth as the bottom 70% of Australians combined.

It's not surprising that the Government's response to this – more handouts to the wealthy – isn't winning hearts and minds.

But the Turnbull Government can rest easy, because the Business Council of Australia (the lobby group for Australia's largest 130 corporations) is riding in to save the day.

As reported on ABC’s 7.30, the Business Council has asked each of its members to chip in an average of $200,000 each — building a staggering $26 million election slush fund to try and win voter support for the Turnbull Government's rabid pro-corporate agenda.

Their plan is to run a massive, mining tax style campaign, extolling the virtues of large corporations — and trying to shore up enough votes to return the Coalition to government, preferably with a Senate that's more amenable to handing off large sums of public money to the Business Council's corporate members.

They've already kicked the effort off with a TV ad campaign, town hall meetings, and new website (under the name of a front group) — and they've even bought themselves their very own discussion show on Sky News.

It’s worth remembering 42% of the Business Council's members are wholly owned subsidiaries of offshore corporations — meaning there's no question the interests they're representing aren't the interests of the Australian voting public.

The fact this is all taking place with the Turnbull Government's stamp of approval, at the same time they are trying to shut down charities and community groups they disagree via the overreach of the foreign donations bill would be laughable, if it wasn't so dangerous.

It’s also astounding given about half the Business Council's corporate members already contribute little or no tax in Australia, yet still demand multibillion dollar handouts while our local schools and hospitals (not to mention the ABC) suffer repeated cuts.

Why does the BCA think they need to spend so much money to influence the election?

When asked by the ABC, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott made it clear"GetUp."

She said they needed their $26 million war chest to "level the playing field" against GetUp and other grassroots organisations that have been disrupting traditional power structures to help build a fairer and more equal Australia.

GetUp doesn't have $26 million in the bank. But we do have the truth on our side — and a million members ready to take action around Australia. And we'll pit that against the Business Council any day of the week. 

Paul Oosting is the GetUp national director. GetUp has recently launched Future To Fight For, an unapologetically bold blueprint of an economy that puts people first. For more information visit futuretofightfor.org.au. You can follow Paul Oosting on Twitter @PaulOosting.

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