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Andren calls for urgent Liberal Party funding audit.

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Media Release


Peter Andren MP

Independent Member for Calare


27 May 1998


Andren calls for urgent Liberal Party funding audit


Independent Federal MP Peter Andren has called on the Electoral Commission to conduct a fast-track audit of the Federal Libera l Party and release details of its investigations into the mysterious Greenfields Foundation.


Mr. Andren’s action followed receipt of answers to questions he put to the Government earlier this year, after revelations of a $4,650,000 loan made by the Greenfields Foundation to the Federal Liberal Party to help pay off its crippling debt to the National Australia Bank from the 1996 election.


“At the time news of the loan broke, I smelt a rat because Greenfields shared two trustees and a Canberra post office address with the Liberal Party’s former secret funding vehicle, the Free Enterprise Foundation,” Mr. Andren said.


“This prompted me to put a series of questions to the Government in the hope they would have the AEC thoroughly investigate the loan and the Greenfields Foundation before the next election.


“The answers I have now received are unsatisfactory and demonstrate the Government’s apathy in pursuing this serious matter,” he said


“Under the terms of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 any entity controlled by a political party, or which operates wholly or mainly for the benefit of a political party must give the AEC accounts each year just like political parties, and political parties must declare as gifts any loans not on commercial terms.


“The public has the right to know what the relationship between Greenfields and the Liberal Party is and whether the loan arrangement between them is legitimate and on commercial terms, because if it isn’t the Act demands the Party declare it as a gift. “In answers to questions I put on the House of Representatives Notice Paper on March 4, 1998, the Special Minister for State, Nick Minchin or his representative has responded that:


* the Australian Electoral Commission has no grounds upon which to conclude the Green fields Foundation meets the definition of an associated entity under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 ; and


* that the Act’s definition of “gift” includes any loans made on non commercial terms; and


* that the terms of the loan made by The Greenfields Foundation to the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party are, at this stage unknown to the Australian Electoral Commission.


‘This last point is critical, and highlights the need for an urgent AEC audit of the Liberal Party,” he said.


‘The disclosure pr ovision of the Electoral Act exist to take the secrecy out of politics, so the public knows what organisation are funding, and potential influencing political parties. It may be that Greenfields arrangement is legitimate but the public has a right to know before the approaching election if the Liberal Party has complied with the law.


“If Greenfields is no more than an arm of the Liberal Party, it must be subjected to the law the same way as a party of the public can see where the money behind Greenfields is coming from.


‘The public is sick and tired of big business and big union domination of the political system, and any legal loophole that allows any party to side-step the election donation disclosure process should be exposed and closed off,” Mr. Andren said.


For more information contact: Canberra (02) 62772431 Mobile 041 961 2891