Pat Pilcher: Aussie entertainment industry makes big political donations

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Photo / AP
Photo / AP

Having recently written that a copyright crack-down was imminent across the Tasman, it was interesting to see revelations coming to light that Aussie anti-piracy lobbyists, the ASA, had donated A$4 million (NZ$4.3 million) to both the Australian Liberal and Labour parties.

It doesn't stop there either. The Aussie media did some more digging, and found that since 1998, Village Roadshow had donated a further A$4 million to both parties. $8 million is a lot of money in anyone's books, so the entertainment industry must be hoping for a return on their "investment". Now it seems likely that they will soon realise it.

The sad thing is that the news isn't all that surprising. Several readers commenting on my previous story about the Australian situation had already speculated on the relationship between government and big business. Now it appears that (at least in Australian context) there's probably some credence to their conjecture.

In light of these revelations, it isn't a huge leap to question the New Zealand situation. Checking the NZ Electoral Commission site reveals that since January 2011, no donations were made to political parties by anyone appearing to represent the entertainment industry. This said, donations under the $30,000 cut-off mark don't have to be declared and aren't visible on the site.

Meanwhile back across the Tasman, news that money has changed hands at this level might cause a flurry of media activity, but the reality is that comments made by Australian Attorney General Brandis have yet to translate into actual legislation.

Either way, I'm quietly hoping that the Aussies can craft up fair and workable legislation. If they're smart they'll take a good look at the New Zealand example, adding features such as charging a small fee payable by accusers before a complaint can be made. Another issue I'm hoping will be addressed is the not so small matter of ISP compliance costs.

As mentioned in my earlier story, ISPs are likely to be stuck with policing the new laws, and doing so won't be cheap.

Perhaps the entertainment industry could stump up some money there rather than just throwing it all at political parties?

- NZ Herald

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