NSW Liberals out $4 million

Edited by Nelly Tawil

NSW Liberals have been denied access to over $4 million by authorities pending proof that the hundreds of thousands in donations received before the 2011 election were legal. The donation supplied by the controversial Free Enterprise Foundation was the reason for its rise to power.


A total of $4.3 million of state election and annual administrative funding continues to be withheld by the NSW Electoral Commission until the matter is resolved. More than $690, 000 in contributions remain unsubstantiated.


The reliability of the Free Enterprise Foundation was called into question when the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard the foundation had “washed” illegal contributions from property developers before donating them to the NSW Liberals.


The NSW division could find itself facing a potential financial crisis months before a federal election if it is unable to secure the funding.


Former president of the NSW Court of Appeals, Keith Mason will chair a three-member panel of the NSW Electoral Commission set to convene on Wednesday.


A spokeswoman for the commission states “the meeting is expected to decide outstanding claims by the Liberal Party of Australia NSW Division.”


The NSW Liberal party acknowledges that money was being withheld but deny claims that there is any basis to the accusations; a spokeswoman for the NSW Liberal Party says it will work with the commission to “resolve this matter”.


The commission heard senior Liberal officials funnelled a substantial amount of money in prohibited donations into the Liberal Party’s 2011 NSW election campaign used fundraising bodies, Millennium Forum and the Free Enterprise Foundation.


The Free Enterprise Foundation, which is not bound by state donations law, would receive donations prohibited under NSW law including those from property developers. The foundation would then to the NSW Liberals’ state campaign.


ICAC has not yet released its final report.