South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris is questioning why some of the nation’s private health corporations are channelling millions of dollars to a ‘’political party with a privatisation agenda’’.
Mr Rorris said Australian Electoral Commission data revealed that health and pharmaceutical companies had forked out more than $8 million in political donations in the past decade.
He said the vast majority of the donations went to the Liberal Party with Ramsay Health Care – which operates Wollongong, Figtree, Lawrence Hargrave and Nowra private hospitals – one of the biggest donors.
He said from 2006 to 2016 Ramsay Health Care had donated around $750,000 to the Liberals at a federal and state level, while $1.7 million had been donated by Paul Ramsay Holdings.
Sonic Healthcare, BUPA Australia, Swisse Vitamins and Novartis Pharmaceuticals were among the other major political donors.
‘’No reasonable person could come to the conclusion that big health corporations donate to politicians for our health, they’re doing it for their own interests,’’ Mr Rorris said.
‘’Corporations see political donations as their way to get access to politicians and promote their agenda – and their agenda is clearly to increase their market share.’’
Mr Rorris said this raised ‘’serious questions’’ about privatisation of public health assets and services.
“So here we have the biggest health corporations in the country donating millions of dollars to politicians and by some remarkable coincidence the NSW Liberal Government decides it might be a good time to sell off our public hospitals,’’ he said.
‘’In this region the owners of Shellharbour Hospital – the community – haven’t even been permitted to view all the tendering and contractual material around a proposed public-private partnership (PPP).
‘’How cosy is it that we see political donations by health companies and also see a privatisation process which the community does not have access to?’’
However a Ramsay Health Care spokeswoman said the company donated money to many organisations and causes across Australia.
Its founder, the late Paul Ramsay, was well known for his philanthropy.
She said this year the company would return over $80 million to the Paul Ramsay Foundation, a charity which funded health and education projects across Australia.
‘’In the last 10 years Ramsay Health Care donated funds to both Liberal ($750,000) and other parties including the Labor Party (over $300,000),’’ she said.
She said Ramsay had ‘’limited interest’’ in the NSW Government’s PPP hospital proposals and ‘’at this stage’’ was not participating.