The NSW Electoral Commission has rejected concerns from federal Senator Arthur Sinodinos over the Commission’s revelations regarding NSW Liberal Party election donations.
The Commission outlined in a March 23 report that more than $4 million of NSW Liberal Party funding was being withheld over prohibited donations made to the 2011 NSW Liberal election campaign.
The report found Liberal fundraising body, the Free Enterprise Foundation, had allowed property developers – who were prohibited from donating to election campaigns – to donate to the campaign.
Senator Sinodinos, now a cabinet secretary in the federal Coalition cabinet, was the NSW Liberal treasurer during the period in question and has called on the Commission to remove “loose language” that he believes conveys he knowingly allowed the donations.
In a seven-page letter to the NSW Electoral Commission via his lawyers, Arnold Bloch Leibler, Senator Sinodinos made a number of complaints. The issues raised were: the language the Commission used in relation to him in his role as treasurer; that he was not being treated fairly; that his actions are implied to be “somehow corrupt or illegal”; and that his submissions to the Independent Commission Against Corruption in relation to the donations were not taken into account.
“In light of these matters, we invited the Commission immediately to retract all references to Senator Sinodinos in the publications,” the letter stated.
“We also invite the Commission to publish a correction to that effect on its website.”
However, in a letter published on the Commission’s website on Thursday, NSW Electoral Commission chairman, Keith Mason dismissed Senator Sinodinos’ complaints.
“The Commission stands by its Statement and Summary of Facts dated 23 March 2016,” Mr Mason’s letter said.
“Accordingly, the Commission is not prepared to retract its decision or any part of its Statement and Summary of Facts.
“Responding to specific matters that you have raised: (1) The loose language of ‘washed through’ that you attribute to the Commission was not in fact used on any of the documents published on its website on 23 March 2016; (2) The Commission has neither seen nor taken account of what you refer to as suppressed submissions made by your client to the ICAC.”
Mr Mason told Senator Sinodinos his complaint should perhaps be directed to the Liberal party agent Simon McInnes.
Both Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Liberal NSW Premier Mike Baird have called on the NSW branch of the party to release the secret identities of the donors who contributed more than $7,000 to the election campaign.