By ERWIN CHLANDA
Chief Minister Adam Giles has still not confirmed nor denied whether during his 2012 election campaign for Braitling he received campaign donations – worth an estimated $15,000 – which he did not declare to the NT Electoral Commission.
And the Electoral Commissioner, Iain Loganathan, has said he would not take the matter further without, unconditionally, being given a copy of a statutory declaration from a whistleblower upon whom the Alice Springs News Online relied for its report.
The declaration states that Mr Giles was given a 4WD (similar to the one pictured) for two months in the lead-up to the 2012 Assembly election for a total of $400.
We asked a hire car firm what the hire cost for such a vehicle would be in July next year and we were told $7891 for 30 days with an excess for damage of $3500.
According to the whistleblower and other people we have spoken to, who have seen the vehicle used by Mr Giles, it was covered in election texts and images.
The whistleblower is a former staff member of the job and training organisation formerly managed by Mr Giles, Enterprise Management Group, which is now called My Pathway.
He/she had access to invoices and statements, and he/she saw the invoice for the car use by Mr Giles. The invoice had been faxed or emailed from the firm’s headoffice in Cairns.
The whistleblower gave the Alice Springs News Online substantial additional information which, if published, would identify him/her.
The whistleblower has offered to collaborate fully with an examination of the matter by the Electoral Commission, and agreed to disclose his/her identity to the commission and to other persons, should that be necessary for the purpose of such an examination.
He/she has accepted that court action – should it come to that – could involve him/her, but the court could possibly grant an application for the name to be suppressed.
The News, which has an obligation to protect its sources, has put to Mr Loganathan that the informant, who works in Alice Springs and is active as a volunteer in a major community group, wants to be protected from victimisation.
Mr Loganathan told us that the issues raised are covered by Part 10 of the Electoral Act. We asked him to point out what stipulation of the Act prevented him from investigating whilst offering partial anonymity.
Mr Loganathan did not respond directly, except to say: “In accordance with the established practise of this office in dealing with disclosure matters, I am unable to provide the requested undertaking.”
Greg Stehle, Public Awareness Manager of the commission, told us: “The initial step in dealing with all disclosure complaints is to forward a copy of the complaint to the person whom the allegations have been made against and provide them with an opportunity to respond.”
We pointed out that the allegations made in the statutory declaration would be made available to the commission, and – in essence – had in fact already been put to Mr Giles by the News.
We put to Mr Stehle: “It is surely reasonable to offer [the whistleblower] a guarantee of anonymity at least while the matter is initially examined and a decision is made about whether to proceed further.”
This was rejected.
We asked Mr Loganathan what difference it would make for people outside the investigation to know the identity of the informant – other than exposing him/her to victimisation.
He did not respond to that.
The whistleblower had contacted the Alice Springs News Online after reading our report about a work for the dole scheme at the Alice Springs Golf Club, and told us the Federally funded job and training industry needs to be reformed.
By ERWIN CHLANDA