Dr Phelps said the model was put together under immense time pressure and without any of the resources given to candidates from the main political parties, and its main purpose was to monitor money coming in and going out and ensure compliance. reporting rules.
“The issue of political donation reform wasn’t even on our radar at the time,” Dr. Phelps said.
“What we were trying to do was make sure we had a structure that made reporting and compliance simple, transparent and efficient. We had to stay within the rules.
“Independent candidates must disclose all donations and expenses related to their campaigns. Individual party members do not. No one will ever know how much was raised or spent on the 2019 campaigns in the electorates of, say, Dave Sharma or Tony Abbott or Josh Frydenberg.
Dr. Phelps then won Wentworth and Mr. Hodgkinson recognized a business opportunity.
“We sat down and said, ‘Look, this is a gap in the market,'” Hodgkinson told The Saturday Paper in 2019, in an interview that confirmed his $30,000 fee.
“You had a lot of independents who were interested in racing but didn’t know how to do it. And you had a group of concerned citizens… who were saying, ‘We want change.’
In the 2019 election, he advised eight independent candidates, including Julia Banks in Flinders, Oliver Yates in Kooyong, Dr Phelps in Wentworth and Ms Steggall in Warringah and Anthony Pesec in the Senate.
The assault on the Liberal core prompted the NSW and Victorian divisions of the party to ask the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to investigate whether the nearly identical structures used by the independents indicated they operated as a single party and circumvented gift laws, but the AEC made no adverse findings.
In April of that year, Mr. Hodgkinson also created Climate 200, which distributed about $450,000 in donations to 12 independents, including Ms. Banks, Mr. Yates, Dr. Phelps and Ms. Steggall. It aims to raise $15-20 million before the next election, to be divided among 10-12 candidates.
Candidates use the money to spend on their campaigns. Climate 200 said in its statement that it had not specifically provided money to any campaign to cover Mr Hodgkinson’s costs.
Richard Beck, director of Warringah Independents, Ms Steggall’s campaign vehicle, said the council had worked closely with the AEC on questions it had about donations and the provision of services. “All of this has been resolved to the satisfaction of the AEC and they have accepted our amended report,” he said.
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