Monday, 27 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: and the slips keep getting bigger

The Liberal Party of Australia stumbling its way towards polling day……

The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 June 2016:

The Liberal Party is scrambling to contain the fallout over taxpayer-funded cash injections from its software company Parakeelia, amid allegations it failed to inform the corporate regulator of changes to company shareholdings for 15 years due to a "clerical error".

Parakeelia has emerged as a significant threat to the Coalition after revelations that state and federal Liberal MPs direct part of their taxpayer-funded allowances towards the company, which in turn paid money into the accounts of the Liberal Party. 

Liberal MPs pay $2500 a year in allowances to Parakeelia, with state MPs collectively chipping in more. The Liberal Party-owned company has paid more than $1 million into party accounts over recent years……

Melbourne businessman Ron Walker has told Fairfax Media he resigned his 98 per cent shareholding in Parakeelia in 2002 – and that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should have assumed his role in the controversial company when Mr Turnbull took over as the party's treasurer.

Melbourne businessman Ron Walker has told Fairfax Media he resigned his 98 per cent shareholding in Parakeelia in 2002 – and that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should have assumed his role in the controversial company when Mr Turnbull took over as the party's treasurer.

But ASIC reports show Mr Walker was still listed as a 98 per cent shareholder in Parakeelia Pty Ltd as of Wednesday afternoon.

"That's impossible," Mr Walker said in an interview late Wednesday. "I was assured that I had resigned. I relinquished all other directorships.

"Malcolm took over from me. He succeeded me as federal treasurer of the party. He assumed all responsibilities I had on that day."

Under the Corporations Act, companies must inform ASIC of changes to their shareholders within 28 days. Breaches carry a maximum of fine of about $10,000.

In a subsequent phone call, Mr Walker said the Liberal Party was scrambling to correct the error.

"[The letter] was never sent to ASIC – clerical error," Mr Walker said. Mr Walker said Liberal Party federal director Tony Nutt was "taking care of the legal side to make sure a letter is sent to ASIC tomorrow".

The Liberal Party did not respond to questions about whether this lapse amounted to a breach of the Act…..

Fairfax has previously reported Mr Walker's shareholdings in Parakeelia. In 2007, then federal director Brian Loughnane described Mr Walker's ongoing involvement in the company as an "oversight" and said he would discuss with Mr Walker removing him from the company.

Mr Walker used the same words and blamed former director and outgoing MP Andrew Robb for his continued involvement.

The Liberal Party has said it will co-operate with any investigation by the Auditor-General.


The Guardian, 16 June 2016:

Malcolm Turnbull is staring down an incipient campaign by conservatives to return Tony Abbott to the front bench if the Coalition wins on 2 July.

Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Thursday the government’s ministerial line up will remain the same as it is currently if the Coalition prevails over Labor in the looming election.

“Can I say to you, as I’ve said before, the ministry I’m taking to the election will be the ministry after the election if the Australian people choose to return my government to office,” the prime minister told reporters.

Turnbull repeated the formulation in his daily campaign press conference:“I can tell you what my ministry will be if we win, it will be the ministry as it is today.”

The prime minister was asked about Abbott’s potential elevation after the immigration minister Peter Dutton – a substantial figure in the Coalition’s conservative faction – said he thought “some people” would push for Abbott’s return to a front bench spot post-election.

“Well, I think some people will push for that and I think it’s an issue for Malcolm Turnbull, as it is for all of us, that are ministers or want to be ministers in a Turnbull government,” Dutton told 2GB on Thursday morning.


Embattled Liberal candidate Chris Jermyn may have broken electoral laws by claiming he was living in a house that didn't exist.

In 2013, Mr Jermyn was enrolled to vote in the federal election in the Victorian electorate of McEwen - the same seat he is now trying to win for the Coalition.
He enrolled using an address in the small Victorian regional town of Christmas Hills, which is in McEwen.

But there are two problems. The address was - and still is - an empty block of land. ASIC documents also show Mr Jermyn's father, businessman Peter Jermyn, sold the 40-hectare property on July 26, 2013, about six weeks before the federal election.

Fairfax Media understands Mr Jermyn – who shot to prominence last month when his attempt to ambush Bill Shorten at a campaign event backfired - was enrolled at this address until 2015. However, at no time did he actually live there.

According to the Australian Electoral Commission, the law requires that one must have lived at an address for more than one month before one can enrol there.
"Some degree of permanence, or continuity of living at the address shown on the electoral roll is a vital legal requirement before you should change your enrolment," the AEC says on its website.

Publicly available records for one of Mr Jermyn's companies, Mooter Media, list his residential address in 2014 as Queens Lane, Melbourne, which is in the Labor electorate of Melbourne Ports.

Mr Jermyn's social media accounts also indicate he had been living in Melbourne, not Christmas Hills……

Under the Criminal Code, making any false or misleading statement in any enrolment or electoral papers is an offence that can carry a maximum penalty of 12 months' imprisonment.
Mr Jermyn issued a statement saying he used the address because it was the place he intended to live after he returned from working overseas.

"I intended to build on the property and plans were drafted," he said.

He says he lived overseas for most of 2013 but returned to Australia briefly several times. He says he used his parent's address in Melbourne as a mailing address for business purposes only.

"I will be making no further comment.".

Many Victorian Liberals are furious Mr Jermyn has once again distracted from the campaign, especially given there was a push at a recent administrative committee for him to be dumped before the close of nominations.

But it is understood that move was resisted by state president Michael Kroger.

"You have got to look into these things but Chris will remain the candidate and he's done a very good job," Mr Kroger said on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Fairfax Media revealed details of Mr Jermyn's bold but failed plan to create a new multimillion-dollar global reality competition…..


Two Liberal Party politicians, Minister for Resources, Energy and Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg & Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer proudly sponsored by real estate businesses:

Note what laughingly passes for political advertising authorisation at the bottom of the Kelly O’Dwyer corflute.

Australian Electoral Commission, Electoral Backgrounder: Electoral advertising:

The effect of the above is that the closer to the due date for the holding of an election (for example, the 3-year term for the expiry of the House of Representatives in section 28 of the Constitution) the more likely that a reference to one of the above matters will be 'likely to affect voting'. This will therefore be an electoral matter that requires the inclusion of the authorisation details set out in section 328…..

Section 328 requires electoral advertisements to include the name and full street address of the person who authorised the advertisement, as well as the name and place of business of the printer of the advertisement, at the end of the advertisement. This ensures that anonymity does not become a protective shield for irresponsible or defamatory statements. The inclusion of the street address details enables legal proceedings to be issued and served.

Paragraph 328(1)(b) states that 'the name and place of business of the printer appears at the end thereof'. The purpose of this provision is to facilitate the taking of legal action and the serving of legal documents where a person believes that they have been defamed or otherwise have some legal cause of action arising from the publication of the material. Accordingly, the AEC has the view that the details of the actual street address of the printer at which the business of printing is undertaken is required to be included to comply with this requirement.

* Images on Twitter at @BuzzFeedOzPol

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