Nationals only disclosed $1m payment after AEC audit
The Nationals’ current federal manager, Jonathan Hawkes, confirmed the $1 million payment, but only did so in April last year after AEC assistant commissioner Joanne Reid had identified the problem.
“The amount you noted has been clearly identified as not being a donation. This was an internal financial transaction following a restructuring of the party administration,” Mr Hawkes said in response to questions from The Sydney Morning Herald and age.
“Nationals have always and will continue to comply with all legislative and regulatory requirements under Commonwealth Elections Law.”
Mr Hindmarsh did not respond to a text or phone call.
Lawyer Geoffrey Watson, a donations reform advocate and director of the Center for Public Integrity, said the disclosure revealed problems in the nationals office and in the transparency regime.
“This is just another example of the problem of too much money wasted in politics. How can one side ignore a $1,000,000 payout?” Mr Watson said.
“It doesn’t matter that it comes from a related entity; in some ways it makes it worse. I have read the reports and I see no rational explanation for the oversight. »
The nationals’ corrected disclosure also showed a receipt of $77,000 from the law firm Minter Ellison and a transfer of $58,000 from the Australian Revenue Service. A separate donation of $32,000 was disclosed in the statement, but the AEC said it should be deleted.
While the company secretary at John McEwen House also filed an official statement with the AEC after the last election, he also understated the amount given to nationals by $1 million and had to be corrected after a AEC audit.
During the second audit, Ms. Reid found that John McEwen House’s total payments were $2.4 million instead of the $1.4 million claimed in her October 2019 disclosure. This led the company to filed a corrected disclosure with the AEC in August last year, more than two years after the election.
The AEC has approximately 30 compliance investigations underway at present.
The use of the word “payment” in this report refers to the specific amount of money and the name of the source of money received by Nationals.
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