Election donation ties Wotif.com to Greens
SSAA National is asking members to reconsider their use of discount travel and accommodation website Wotif.com following substantial funding by a company founder for the Australian Greens. It was revealed earlier this year that Wotif.com founder Graeme Wood threw almost $1.6 million into the Australian Greens’ 2010 election campaign. Following this revelation, SSAA National attempted to contact Mr Wood to clarify the reasoning behind supporting this group, but has received no response.
The correspondence sent to Mr Wood earlier this year stated:
“The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) represents 132,000 members in Australia, with a monthly Australian Shooter magazine that is available to the 760,000 licensed firearm owners across the country and the readers of our website. We are also a member of an international group representing 35 hunting, shooting and industry organisations and more than 100 million sport shooters around the world.
“We engage government at both the state and federal level for the benefit of hunters and sports shooters. During our time working with the government, we have consistently found that The Greens are a subcentric group who have made quite clear that they wish to ban all forms of sports shooting and hunting.
“As a result of this experience, the SSAA found it quite disconcerting to find that you supported The Greens with such a substantial amount of funding in 2010. It is, of course, your right to support whatever cause you see fit, but we would like to enquire as to your motivations for supporting The Greens in this way and your opinions of hunting and sports shooting.
“Our members, by nature of competing in sports shooting, travel both nationally and internationally. Not to discredit the quality of Wotif.com services, but we would feel obliged to inform our members not to use your website if it turned out that the profits work against the future of their sport.”
Mr Wood is estimated to have a wealth of $372 million and while he is retired from Wotif.com, he still holds a place on the board and owns 23 per cent of the company. His donation is believed to have funded The Greens’ television advertising campaign on commercial television for the first time, with a high rotation that market research has indicated contributed to swings in some states.
It was reported that Mr Wood said he made the donation because he was disappointed with Labor and Coalition policies on climate change and the environment. He said his funding to help The Greens gain the balance of power in the Senate was “critical”.
Interestingly, shortly after it was revealed in the media that The Australian Greens accepted this large donation, the New South Wales Greens were revealed to have a policy of refusing to accept donations from any large private corporations or in fact any corporate donations. The NSW Greens were forced to address the issue in a press release and reported that “almost none” of Mr Wood’s donation was spent in New South Wales, only the effects of a “relatively small” national SBS campaign.
In 2012, it is expected that national electoral funding reform laws will come into place, which will control both the source and level of funding during campaigns. These reforms are reported to have been touted as a result of an agreement between the Federal Government and The Greens.