Anyone who works or deals with civil society and the way it is funded will know that any NGO that interferes in elections are banned from public funding. The philosophy behind this is very simple: public funding should not be used by the government of the day to sway voters to vote for its party, candidates and agenda.
In an indirect way, the government of the day uses public money to persuade voters to vote for them.
The government of the day is allowed to spend public money to publicise their services and newly introduced legislations and their impact on voters’ lives.
Such practices were heavily criticised by all opposition parties, however the same parties once in government were more than happy to keep this practice going.
Since federation, no NGO that campaigned during election time received public funding. The only exception was made for some Muslim extreme organisations.
This process of excluding extremist organisation from such regulations was started by the Howard government but was later adopted also by Labor and subsequently by Labor-Greens governments.
It is worth mentioning some facts in detail.
The Lebanese Moslem Association (LMA), prior to 2005, never applied for public funding. The association depended on donations from community members and foreign embassies (Saudi Arabia top of the list). LMA knew too well that due to their extreme conservative agendas and their heavy involvement in local politics, no public funding would ever be granted to their association.
The LMA and the majority of Muslim organisations and active members were mainly managed by Labor members of Muslim communities.
Voting or even supporting Liberals or Greens was out of the question.
The Liberals were known to be anti-Muslim, anti-multiculturalism, anti-Palestine, pro-US wars (mainly Muslim countries) and anti-public service.
The Greens with their “liberal” views on drugs and family policies didn’t go well among conservative Muslims.
Then the Liberals infiltrated the LMA by offering millions of dollars in public funding to organise and manage community services. The strategy was simple: “we give you money in return you spread lies about Australian politics”
The role of LMA was to send out the message that Labor was becoming similar to Liberals. In simple terms the message was: since both Labor and Liberals are the same let’s vote for the party that gives us more money!
This was never about the interests of the community like getting better policies. It was all about the wealth and status of a few members only. At the end of the day the relationship with the Liberal party over two decades did not bring any benefit to the community including integration in the society and respect.
Labor on the other hand panicked and instead of challenging the legality of funding organisations that have a strong political interest, decided to match the Liberals.
When Liberals granted LMA around $2 million in 2006 over a period of 3 years, Labor tried to match this with a larger amount on state level. While it worked for LMA and its leadership, as they became both rich and influential, this practice sent a very serious and alarming precedent.
Our democracy became for sale on even cheaper and larger scale.
This precedent sent a message: a community organisation should associate with one of the big parties to secure funding. Democracy can go to hell.
We, at Social Justice Network, never applied for public funding because we knew the regulations of no public funding for politically motivated and active organisations.
We were offered funding early 2010 but only if we stopped our campaigns against the Labor government policies on refugees’ rights, Palestine and anti-war. We refused the offer as we continued our campaign in line with our philosophy and mission statement.
After the regulations were watered down and LMA together with other politically active organisations (mainly of Muslim extremist) got a lot of public funding (tens of millions of dollars annually), we applied for some funding.
After all, if associations like LMA got so much money we couldn’t see any reason why we would not be granted a smaller sum.
With this in mind we applied for a $25,000 grant to help us fight extremism in our society. Our application was refused. We applied for a second one for only $5,000. This application was simply ignored.
At present we are waiting to hear on our third application to grant us $30,000 to help new migrants and refugees find work. Since we are not aligned to any major party we expect our application to end up in a rubbish bin.
Our organisation has one of two options if we want to continue our work.
Align ourselves with one of the major parties or become an extremist organisation and support terrorism in Syria, Iraq and Australia.
Apparently these are the only two requisites needed in order to be granted millions of dollars.
To find out the credibility of our claim one has to just go and check the list of organisations funded through Multiculturalism NSW.
And our authorities still ask “where did all this radicalisation come from...!!!”
Who will challenge the two major parties on their violation of our constitution?