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Pembroke Electorate - Liberal Party Campaign

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Tags: Political Donations, ASIO


Yesterday when we asked you about the $30 000 in donations from a foreign company with close links to the Chinese Communist government, which ASIO warned about, you said it was a matter for the administrative wing of the party. You refused to accept any responsibility and squarely pointed the finger back at Liberal state director Sam McQuestin. During the Mantach scandal, it was established that if you sit on the party executive, you are most certainly a member of the administrative wing of the party as well as its leader. In the Pembroke campaign it is clear that the party you lead has deliberately decided on a negative campaign marked by public lies about pub closures, continued ageist attacks on another candidate, and now it appears at least two breaches of the Electoral Act including, more concerningly, a likely breach of section 162 which prohibits a party from funding upper House campaigns. Your Health minister has confirmed the Liberal Party is running and funding James Walker's Pembroke campaign. Do you agree that is a clear breach? Will you take responsibility for your party's negativity, ageism and apparent disregard for the law in the Pembroke campaign, or is it all Sam McQuestin's fault?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her many questions. It is important to appreciate it is a good thing for political organisations to be the bodies that administer the receipt and disclosure of donations, not politicians themselves.

There have been well-documented instances around this country of politicians, often from the Labor Party, mishandling political donations. We know from the member's own party that receiving donations had a direct impact on their policy positions, which, frighteningly, they were able to deliver in a minority Labor-Greens government, given their undue influence over a weak political party that was happy to let them do anything and get away with anything whenever they wanted.

That is why it is important for political parties to administer political donations. That will always be the way with respect to the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party will always be expected, as long as I am involved with it, to disclose those matters and to do so in accordance with the law, as the Liberal Party does.

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. Ms O'Connor, order.

Mr HODGMAN - With respect to campaigning, again there is a lot of hypocrisy coming out of all this. Yes, it is the case that the state director of the Liberal Party is the campaign director. He is the authoriser of this material, as you would appreciate. Under the law, it is the authorising agent who bears responsibility for campaign material.

It is not Judge O'Connor, who gets to rule on matters that she has raised. They are matters for the electoral commissioner, for instance. I am not going to presume to know what the electoral commissioner may or may not say about, for example, the suggestion that the independent member for Pembroke, Mr Chipman, might have breached the electoral laws. That is a matter for the Electoral Commission.

The only other point is the utter hypocrisy of members opposite. We saw a holier than thou performance by 'butter wouldn't melt in her mouth' Leader of the Opposition, Bec White, who was saying, 'Negative campaigns, no, we will not have anything to do with those'. At the moment, the people of Pembroke are receiving this brochure in their letter boxes as well, with a photograph of my good self and one of the Prime Minister, dishonestly asserting that only Labor will invest in health and hospitals. That is not so. They actually cut health and hospital funding and also falsely, dishonestly claim that we have cut funding to health. The truth is we are increasing our funding into health and hospitals, including opening beds you shut.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of Order, Mr Speaker. Standing order 45; relevance -

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Sorry, Ms O'Connor, if you could start that again now that the noise has subsided.

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Speaker, standing order 45. It goes to relevance. The Premier has been asked about the Pembroke campaign and potential breaches by his own party of the Electoral Act. He has digressed.

Mr SPEAKER - Thank you, Ms O'Connor, for that point of order. As I pointed out earlier this morning, there was quite a preamble to the question as well as many questions within your contribution. The Premier, as I read it, is working his way through those. He is dealing with them one by one. I ask the Premier to continue.

Mr HODGMAN - It came in the context of a characterisation with respect to the method of campaigning undertaken by the Liberal Party. Of course I stand by candidate James Walker and all that he offers the people of Pembroke: a positive plan for traffic congestion; a positive plan to bring water prices down; and to fix the problems in his electorate of Pembroke - a position on a lot of matters which are not apparent when you ask the Labor representative what their position is, other than a most negative campaign that the Leader of the Opposition was on the television last night complaining about, saying how inappropriate it was. I would like to see the Leader of the Opposition explain why it is that the Labor Party is so happy to run such a negative campaign. Perhaps we might see a feature piece on that on the ABC.

Members interjecting.