As the old saying goes, always follow the money. A beautiful, flourishing future is possible for Australia but only if we can effectively tackle the vested interests that are holding us back as a country.
Every year, large sums are donated by the fossil fuel industry to politicians and political parties, while Australian people are being robbed of decent climate action.
It isn't right or fair, but vested interests will always use their power and money to maintain their influence over decision makers. If corporate donations did not have the effect of opening doors to decision makers, then why would any multinational corporation or big business lobby group choose to spend their money that way?
As the Grattan Institute reported last year, 'major donors to political parties are more likely to get a meeting with a senior minister, and time with ministers is explicitly 'for sale' at party fundraising events'.
As long as politicians can accept donations from big corporations, our system is broken. Regardless of the recent election result, change is needed to reinvigorate our democracy and to give more power to the Australian people.
If Scott Morrison is serious about governing for 'the quiet Australians' then he needs to turn down the volume of big business' vested interests that drown out the public interest. Banning corporate donations would be a great place to start.
Recent figures from the Australian Electoral Commission showed that more than a million dollars in direct political donations from the fossil fuel industry was showered on politicians within a single year - and that was before the federal election.
With big sums being invested to have influence, how can we expect meaningful action from our politicians to address the climate emergency?
The Australian Electoral Commission data also shows that donations from the energy sector jumped in 2017-18 as fossil fuel power companies sought to have influence on the dysfunctional debates over energy policy.
The system of vested interest influence works in other ways too. The fossil fuel industry's access to decision makers is guaranteed through a system of cliques and networks of which the practice of making political donations is only one part. Attending lavish dinners and access to events is a key part of this system, for warping government away from the public interest.
Then there's the phenomenon of the revolving door, with individuals shifting in and out of political offices, industry groups and big companies. Most recently, former Liberal Senator Helen Coonan has been appointed chair of the Minerals Council of Australia, which has been a major opponent of effective climate action.
I've spent the previous decade of my life working for an organisation run entirely on donations.
Greenpeace is an environmental charity that accepts no money from any government or any business - never has and never will. This gives us an incorruptible independence.
When someone donates to an organisation, there is an expectation that it will then act in the best interest of the donor. Supporters of Greenpeace trust that we will work to expose environmental destruction and champion solutions, to secure an earth capable of nurturing life in all of its magnificent diversity.
In contrast, with enormous donations from the fossil fuel industry in just the last 12 months, the federal Coalition government has done everything in its power to not only protect but promote the coal industry in Australia.
This isn't limited to brandishing a lump of coal in parliament. Earlier this year, the IMF estimated that on a per capita basis, Australian fossil fuel subsidies amounted to $1,198 per person. Total annual fossil fuels subsidies in our country were put at $29 billion - taxpayer money literally being handed to big corporations to destroy our climate.
Bill Shorten was certainly right; corporate vested interests impacted the election result. But, the Australian Labor Party has also been willing to accept big donations from the fossil fuel industry:
Market Forces estimates that in 2017-2018, the fossil fuel industry threw over half a million dollars into Labor's pot.
Meanwhile, our country is being ravaged by extreme weather, farmers are faced with crippling drought and the most vulnerable members of our society are at the mercy of deadly heatwaves.
Despite coal being the number one driver of climate change in Australia, Scott Morrison's government was re-elected without any credible policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Our job is not to stay quiet in the face of injustice. Fossil fuel vested interests destroying the environment and stealing the future from our children is neither just or fair. It is up to the people of Australia to demand that our politicians act to clean up the system.
We need to be able to rely on our elected representatives to serve the greater good, by putting the needs of the country before vested interests.
Banning corporate political donations and other action to curtail the influence of vested interests would be fantastic for the future of our country. It would be beneficial for people, nature, the climate and the health of our democracy.
- David Ritter is the chief executive officer of Greenpeace Australia Pacific. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Sydney Democracy Network at Sydney University, Affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute and the Global Policy Lab and an honorary fellow of the Law Faculty at UWA. His most recent book is The Coal Truth: The Fight to Stop Adani, Defeat the Big Polluters and Reclaim our Democracy.