ABC Presenter Featured Speaker at $85 a Head ALP Branch Dinner

Prominent ABC current affairs presenter and editor, Stan Grant, is the featured speaker at an $85 a head dinner scheduled for April, co-hosted by a branch of the NSW ALP, to honour former Labor leader, H V Evatt.

The speaking engagement has the potential to ignite controversy akin to that caused by former Trade Union Royal Commissioner Dyson Heydon agreeing to deliver a lecture for a Liberal Party event in 2015 to honour Evatt’s contemporary and rival, Sir Garfield Barwick. In the face of widespread criticism, Heydon eventually withdrew from the Lecture, and later ruled against an application that he stand down from the Royal Commission. Continue reading “ABC Presenter Featured Speaker at $85 a Head ALP Branch Dinner”

Re Webster: Members of Parliament, Pecuniary Interests and Disqualification – A Background

At the heart of the High Court challenge to Bob Day’s qualification to contest the Double Dissolution election of 2016 lies the case of Senator James Webster in 1975. Contentious at the time in the midst of wider political controversy, and thought potentially capable of opening up to scrutiny all manner of contractual arrangements, including residential leases, held between MPs and the Commonwealth, the relevant clause was narrowly interpreted by a single judge of the High Court and benefit of the legal doubt given to the Senator.

Since then, it has been the subject of criticism, and may well be overturned in the course of current proceedings. In its submissions in the current case, the Commonwealth has argued that, while Bob Day would fall foul even if the case were applied, Re Webster was too narrowly decided. Herewith the background to the original case, and its aftermath. Continue reading “Re Webster: Members of Parliament, Pecuniary Interests and Disqualification – A Background”

“Some Time” Before Decision on Secret Lionel Murphy Records

After a thirty year wait, historians, lawyers, journalists and the general public will have to wait “some time” more before knowing whether they can have access to allegations put before a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in 1986 into the conduct of former High Court justice, Lionel Murphy.

By the time it was wound up in September 1986, the Inquiry had distinguished at least fourteen separate allegations against Murphy.

With only the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives permitted to have access to this material until now, they have authorised the Clerks of their respective chambers to see the material so they can provide advice.

The conditions imposed by statute in 1986 mean that even the Clerks have to wait until the 30 year secrecy provisions expire on Sunday before getting access. Continue reading ““Some Time” Before Decision on Secret Lionel Murphy Records”

New Rules Net Liberal Party Extra $49,000 For Software Subsidy

After a cap was removed on a controversial public subsidy of the major political parties, 72 Coalition MPs claimed an additional $48,935 in the first half of 2015-16 over and above what could be claimed in previous years.

This was paid to the Liberal owned entity, Parakeelia Pty Ltd, the subject of recent controversy over its practice of funding the Liberal Party by way of public subsidy for electoral management software it developed and owns. Continue reading “New Rules Net Liberal Party Extra $49,000 For Software Subsidy”

The $5 Million “Software Subsidy” for Major Parties – And It’s Only Going To Get Bigger

Since 1996, an allowance has seen over $5.6 million in taxpayer funds made available to Federal Members of Parliament for “software reimbursement”, with members of the major parties directed to claim this allowance against software prescribed by their party.

A decade long cap on the allowance of $1500 per year has now been removed, thereby exposing taxpayers to greater charges by parties and reimbursement claims by MPs. Continue reading “The $5 Million “Software Subsidy” for Major Parties – And It’s Only Going To Get Bigger”

Political Party Membership in NSW – Figures for 2014-15

Updated to incorporate figures for Country Labor, and account for multi-year memberships in the Labor Party entities. Some minor errors of transcription since first publication have been corrected without notation, but thank you to commenters. If you have comments or queries, either leave them here or tweet me at @smurray38

While there has been much talk about the decline in party membership over the years, there has never been a sure way of ascertaining the state of play, given the reluctance of political parties to share the numerical health of their parties.

However as part of the funding disclosure requirements for the NSW Electoral Commission, NSW political parties are now required to disclose how much money is raised through membership and affiliation fees. Continue reading “Political Party Membership in NSW – Figures for 2014-15”

NSW Political Donations Reform – Background and Resources (Updated)

In May 2014, in response to the mounting revelations at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of breaches and circumvention of NSW’s electoral disclosure laws, particularly in respect of donations by prohibited donors, Premier Mike Baird announced a Panel of Experts to review the system of political donations. Continue reading “NSW Political Donations Reform – Background and Resources (Updated)”

Ending A Culture of Entitlement

Another day, and the drip of stories on Members of Parliament and their entitlements continues. Inevitably, this has been accompanied by a chorus of calls for changes to “the rules”.

What’s needed is not a look at the rules, but rather, a change in the culture of entitlement. Continue reading “Ending A Culture of Entitlement”

Labor Failed to Declare Donation from Torbay’s $100K Donor

According to returns filed with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), the NSW Branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) never declared a $19,000 donation from the investment outfit at the centre of controversy over a $100,000 donation to the former NSW Independent MP and federal Nationals candidate, Richard Torbay. Continue reading “Labor Failed to Declare Donation from Torbay’s $100K Donor”

A Nationals MP’s take on Obeid and Torbay: From the Parliamentary Record

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a commissioned piece dealing with the associations NSW Labor figures Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald developed with the minor parties and independents on the crossbenches of the NSW Parliament over the years Labor was in office.

It deals in part with Obeid’s association with former Nationals canddiate, Richard Torbay, leading up to the 1999 State Election, through his election as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and the plan conceived in desperation to recruit Torbay to the ALP and install him as Premier.

The piece is still a work in progress. What is on the public record are a series of Parliamentary motions and speeches, made by a member of the National Party, The Hon. Melinda Pavey MLC, about some of those links between Obeid and the independents, and in particular, his association with Torbay. These contributions were made whilst Torbay was an independent, prior to his joining The Nationals and winning preselection to take on Tony Windsor in the seat of New England in this year’s election. Continue reading “A Nationals MP’s take on Obeid and Torbay: From the Parliamentary Record”