By ERWIN CHLANDA
While the NT Electoral Commission is declining to deal with reports from a whistleblower claiming that Chief Minister Adam Giles has failed to declare an election donation worth several thousand dollars, Mr Giles has announced “a wide-ranging investigation into political donation processes and legislation”.
The commission is denying the whistleblower, who has offered full cooperation, the protection of anonymity as the whistleblower fears victimisation.
Meanwhile Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie said, in a media release, “the Giles Government sank to a new low and disgracefully used its numbers in Parliament to avoid an independent inquiry into political donations and Foundation 51”.
Mr Giles said yesterday in a media release: “The issue of transparency in political donations is a serious one for Territorians and as such the Government is moving to appoint a Special Investigator to look into current donation processes.
“The Special Investigator will report on the effectiveness of existing legislation covering political donations and the processes applied in other jurisdictions.
“The investigator will also look at the use of public election funding models in other jurisdictions and whether this approach might be applied here in the Territory.”
The investigation will be administered by the Department of the Chief Minister.
He says: “This investigation replaces the unworkable inquiry set up through a Parliamentary motion on 20 August on the issue of political donations.
“The original investigation under the Inquiries Act was simply not practical because it dealt with matters stretching back 20 years.”
The decision to hold the enquiry resulted from a motion by Independent Gerry Woods (Nelson) which was carried, unexpectedly, because Government members were not in the chamber to vote.
Ms Lawrie said, “The Government [is] now involved in a full scale cover-up to hide the activities of the CLP slush fund Foundation 51 which has failed to declare political donations to the CLP as required under law.”
Ms Lawrie condemned the CLP “for its culture of corruption following the leaked emails which suggest criminality known at the highest levels of the CLP.
“What does the CLP have to hide?” she asked.
“The CLP strung along the Member for Nelson until after the Casuarina by-election and then brutally crunched through a motion to rescind the Inquiry into political donations.”
Ms Lawrie says she told the Parliament that prima facie Foundation 51 had breached the NT Electoral Act by failing to declare $200,000 in donations to the CLP prior to the 2012 General Election.
“The facts are now in the public domain. An email written by Foundation 51 Director Graeme Lewis admits that ‘the contributors were clearly aware, and did generally stipulate that the funds raised would be devoted to NT elections in 2012 or thereafter’.”
Ms Lawrie stated in the release that another Graeme Lewis email from March 26 this year said: “The Foundation has already contributed significantly towards the activities of the Blain by election.”
The leaked emails from Foundation 51 director Graeme Lewis described former Chief Minister Terry Mills as having a ‘directorial role’ in the slush fund and also showed that in May this year he was vetting a draft Foundation 51 press release past Chief Minister Adam Giles.
“Only a full-scale inquiry could have got to the bottom of this scandal. Labor will introduce an Independent Commission Against Corruption if elected to return integrity to government.
“The paper exercise of an investigation into electoral legislation and systems is a whitewash and this is a disgraceful action by the CLP.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA