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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1121


Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (16:06): It is in the public interest that we have proper governance of political parties. The Prime Minister took a major step in the right direction when, in his first cabinet meeting, he declared that members of the Liberal Party executive could not act as political lobbyists at the same time as they held office. A number of the Liberal Party executive resigned as a consequence of that decision. When I was a life member of the Liberal Party the funding of the Liberal Party, its application and those who funded it were of great concern to me. I was a life member of the Liberal Party and a member of its national conference. I had been a National Party official spokesman and a member of the conservative side of politics for over 40 years.

Despite all of that, in 2011 and 2012, despite the fact that I had been one of the strongest supporters of the party and one of its largest donors, it was impossible to get a copy of the accounts of the party and a veil of secrecy hung over the application and use of party funds. At that time corporate governance was non-existent in the Liberal Party. Elected members of the national executive, holding the highest offices other than that of president of the party, complained personally to me that they were denied any access to the accounts of the party, about how money was donated to the party and how it was actually spent. There was no accountability which one would normally expect to see in a body receiving funding from the public and its members.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Ewen Jones ): Order! I remind the member of the topic for discussion, which is the government's attack on the wages and conditions of working Australians.

Mr PALMER: It is a wide-ranging topic. I believe I can discuss this.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You may want to start!

Mr PALMER: At that time Alan Stockdale was president of the party and refused point blank to provide details even to the vice-presidents of the Liberal Party.

Mr Tudge: I rise on a point of order. He has just ignored your ruling for him to go back to the topic of the MPI. What he has been saying clearly has nothing to do with the topic. The topic actually concerns industrial relations. That is the matter which we are debating across this chamber. That is to do with an internal Liberal Party matter that he is discussing, so I ask that he brought back to the topic of the MPI.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Fairfax is well aware of what the topic is. I ask him to be relevant to the topic, or he can cede his position.

Mr PALMER: Certainly industrial relations and the fact that Liberal Party workers went unpaid and worked not in accordance with the act was a great disgrace for the Liberal Party at that time. That is why many of its vice-presidents did not know where the funds were. They did not know where the money was to pay—

Mr Tudge: I rise on a point of order. With due respect, the activities of the Liberal Party and what might or might not occur inside the Liberal Party have nothing to do with this matter of public importance, which concerns public policy concerning industrial relations.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Fairfax should be aware that most of those positions are voluntary positions and therefore not subject to penalty rates of wages. I remind him again to be relevant to the topic or cede his position.

Mr PALMER: I just have to say that I did not know Brian Loughnane's position was a voluntary position! I didn't know funds from the Liberal Party would be spent on various things other than re-election of Liberal members, which I would like to tell you about here, but I will have to save it for another day and keep the suspense going!