Monday, 2 May 2016
Questions without Notice
Donations to Political Parties
My question is to the cabinet secretary, Senator Sinodinos. I refer to the minister's previous answer that he did not have, 'enough time' to respond to evidence from at least two witnesses to the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, who testified that he, the minister, knew the Free Enterprise Foundation was being used to channel and disguise illegal donations to the Liberal Party.
I ask the cabinet secretary again: did he ever participate in, or witness, discussions about the use of the Free Enterprise Foundation to channel and disguise donations by prohibited donors?
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that the minister has now said this, will he now advise the Senate what action, if any, he has taken to support or encourage the full disclosure of donors who made donations to the New South Wales Liberal Party through the Free Enterprise Foundation?
I was made aware the night before an article was to be put in the newspaper by Mr Sean Nicholls earlier this year, that there had been correspondence between the Liberal Party and the New South Wales Electoral Commission on this matter. I was not involved in any of the lead-up to that correspondence or in any of the decisions made by the division of the Liberal Party in New South Wales on this matter.
I was accorded the courtesy of being told that Sean Nicholls would run an article the next day about these processes being set in train in New South Wales, so I was not involved in any of the tactics, any of the strategy or anything to do with the process by which the New South Wales division was going to disclose any donations. You would have seen what was said subsequently by the Premier of New South Wales about the need for cooperation, and I agree with that. But I have not had any involvement in those processes.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer to the Statement of Ministerial Standards, which requires Senator Sinodinos to provide an honest and comprehensive account of his conduct to the parliament. I also refer to his answer to my primary question, which was 'no'. I ask Senator Sinodinos this: can he explain evidence from Mr Nicolau and Mr Neeham before the Independent Commission Against Corruption which confirmed that the practice of prohibited donors making donations through the Free Enterprise Foundation was discussed at meetings of the finance committee, including when he was present?