Updated January 22, 2015 05:36:06
Two of Australia’s best-known bribery fighters accept attacked cash-for-access fundraising in Queensland, aloof canicule afore Queenslanders arch to the acclamation in a accompaniment accepted election.
Former Absolute Commission Against Bribery (ICAC) arch David Ipp QC told the ABC a abridgement of accuracy about political fundraising in Queensland could advance to corruption.
He said the Queensland Liberal National Party’s (LNP) Q Forum networking events, in which companies paid accoutrements of dollars to appear absolute commons with ministers, “give acceleration to the inference that admission to ministers is acclimated to antechamber for favourable decisions”.
Former Labor arch Anna Bligh banned “cash-for-access” blazon contest in 2009 afterwards a accessible backlash.
But the ABC can acknowledge Queensland Labor launched a affairs on Wednesday of paid networking contest about identical to Q Forum.
The affair beatific emailed invitations to businesses to appear its Queensland Progressive Business Network, through which associates get to “meet and appoint with the affair administering and aldermanic associates at the bounded accompaniment and federal level”.
For a cable of $10,000, businesses get tickets to two “boardroom-style” cafeteria or banquet events, two passes to the “Business Observers Program” at the Queensland Accompaniment Labor Conference in August, and one admission to the end-of-year cocktail party.
The aboriginal boardroom cafeteria event, with Labor baton Annastacia Palaszczuk, is due to be captivated aing Wednesday (January 28).
Mr Ipp attacked the clandestine attributes of the events, with little detail appropriate to be appear about who attends and for how much.
“No-one wants to alive in a accompaniment area abstruse admission is acquired to ministers, and decisions are fabricated that affect all the people, sometimes for the account of a few individuals,” he said.
Mr Ipp, who launched investigations into above New South Wales government ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian MacDonald that led to bribery allegation and revelations of boundless influence-peddling in that accompaniment by both abandon of politics, said Queensland would “get the government it deserves” unless accustomed citizens banned to abide alike the accident or actualization of corruption.
Former Fitzgerald Inquiry appropriate admonition Gary Crooke, who helped bastille Queensland government ministers over bribery in the 1980s, declared fundraising by charging for admission to ministers as a “cancer” that kept advancing aback in backroom and a betrayal of a axiological accessible trust.
“They’re at it afresh with accretion on, active these things area they are affairs no added and no beneath than the community’s acreage that they authority in trust, in adjustment to calamus the coffers of a political party,” he said.
Mr Crooke, who additionally served as Queensland Integrity Commissioner, said such practices were “so bent and so abundant in aperture of axiological assignment that there should be a law prohibiting it”.
The ABC can acknowledge that the Queensland Balloter Commission, the absolute approved anatomy that monitors political donations, has afresh asked the LNP to amusement money aloft by Q Forum as fundraising contributions and Q Forum as an “associated entity” of the party, which would crave abounding and abstracted disclosure.
But the LNP has insisted that payments for the networking contest are bartering affairs for a account provided by an centralized team, run by the party.
As a result, it is absurd to acquisition out how abundant was aloft by the adventure and from whom.
The ABC additionally understands some Q Forum attendees accept approached the Queensland Balloter Commission allurement for admonition about their acknowledgment obligations and proposed allegorical the anatomy clearly that they “paid for admission to ministers” — but were dissuaded from application such language.
Q Forum has aloft millions of dollars for the Queensland LNP and helped accomplish the affair the ri distinct political organisation in the country, according to the latest Australian Balloter Commission figures.
In July the LNP afflicted balloter acknowledgment laws to access the beginning at which donations had to be declared, from $1,000 to $12,400.
The amount has back been inflation-adjusted to $12,800.
As a result, accessible disclosures of donations accept become far beneath detailed.
The acknowledgment of donations for the additional bisected of aftermost year beneath the old rules took up 29 pages, while beneath the new rules, the accomplished of the 2013-14 banking year takes up alone nine pages.
The LNP justified the change by adage it was artlessly bringing Queensland into band with Commonwealth legislation.
“It ability be accomplishing that, but afresh there’s article amiss with the Commonwealth legislation,” Mr Ipp said.
“I mean, two wrongs don’t accomplish a right.”
The above ICAC administrator said adopting the beginning meant abundant abstruse donations could be fabricated on account of anyone who could get several friends, ancestors or colleagues to anniversary accomplish contributions that were aloof beneath the limit.
Companies that had abounding Q Forum contest included Coles, Westpac, Allianz Insurance, Anglo American, Caltex Australia, Coca-Cola Amatil, Origin Energy, Suncorp, Leighton Contractors and Echo Entertainment, as able-bodied as several abate Queensland-based companies.
The ABC approached 32 companies accepted to accept participated.
Of those that provided responses, best said appearance at Q Forum contest was allotment of approved assurance with government and that they admired the befalling to apprentice about the administering of government policy.
Caltex provided the best abundant response, adage membership, which would amount the aggregation $11,600 in 2015, was “a acceptable and structured way to apprentice added about government behavior and accommodated ministers, added MPs and staff”.
“Caltex does not ‘pay for access’ — our acquaintance is the Queensland Government is accommodating to accommodated with anyone about issues that charge to be discussed,” the aggregation said.
Westpac said it was “transparent about all the political donations we make”.
The coffer said it declared all donations to the Australian Balloter Commission and to accompaniment authorities, as able-bodied as including them in “consolidated form” in its anniversary report.
Some LNP ministers accept included capacity of attendees at Q Forum contest in their apostolic diaries, while others accept recorded their own appearance but provided no added information.
A Queensland Government agent said while LNP political affairs or contest were not appropriate to be included in apostolic account extracts, in band with Appropriate to Advice laws, Arch Campbell Newman had asked that apostolic offices accommodate capacity on Q Forum events.
The agent had not said back the Arch had fabricated this request.
The LNP said chief affair admiral were bare for account because of the election.
In a account to the ABC, it said Q Forum “allows those complex in assorted industries to subscribe to a business networking account provided by the LNP, area they can altercate issues accordant to that industry.
“All funds are declared in accordance with accompaniment and federal balloter laws.”
At Labor’s attack barrage on Sunday, Queensland Labor baton Ms Palaszczuk accused the Newman administering of aperture the aperture to bribery during its aboriginal term.
“We accept apparent the LNP use its massive majority to change the law so it can accept huge donations from abstruse donors,” she said.
“We see a massively cashed up LNP adopting tens of millions of dollars in secret.
“We accept apparent the LNP bandy accessible the aperture afresh to those accustomed amber cardboard bags.”
Queensland Labor accompaniment secretary Evan Moorhead told the ABC there was “nothing extraordinary” about the new Progressive Business Network, which complex sending out “hundreds” of invitations to businesses.
He said there was “no abridgement of transparency” and that clashing the LNP, Labor would be advice the identities of all the participants and declaring through the ECQ all amounts over $1,000 accustomed as allotment of the venture.
“The LNP’s taken millions and millions of dollars,” he said.
“We’re adverse a actual abundant cashed-up LNP and we’re adverse the charge to get TV ads on air and do mailouts – and those things are actual expensive.
“We’re actuality outspent two or three to one in this campaign.”
Asked about the timing of the accident involving Ms Palaszczuk, aloof three canicule afore the vote, Mr Moorhead said the date had been “locked in aftermost year”.
Topics: liberal-national-party, government-and-politics, elections, electoral-system, federal-elections, state-parliament, qld
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