'Investigate them, not us', Govt tells the AEC

News

'Investigate them, not us', Govt tells the AEC

The Federal Government wants the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to investigate the ACTU plan to speak to union members in marginal seats — but not the Prime Minister's use of Kirribilli House for a Liberal Party political fund-raising event.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

The Federal Government wants the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to investigate the ACTU plan to speak to union members in marginal seats — but not the Prime Minister's use of Kirribilli House for a Liberal Party political fund-raising event.

It was revealed yesterday that the ACTU has drawn up a guideline document for unions to approach their members in marginal seats — first by telephone, and possibly later in person if the member agrees — to encourage them to vote against the Government's IR policies.

'Apparent breach'

Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, confirmed last night he had referred the ACTU's plan to the AEC, claiming it was an 'apparent breach' of the Electoral Act.

The Government claimed the ACTU's use of a sophisticated computer database — operated by Magenta Linas Software — could breach the Electoral Act.

'I am concerned that the use of personal information given to the ALP's election management database provider, Magenta Linas, by the Australian Electoral Commission and then passed on to individual unions, represents a breach of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, specifically sections 90B, 91A and 91B,' The Australian reported.

The sections lay out conditions governing the use of the electoral roll by political parties, MPs and other organisations.

Passing information

Section 91A makes it clear parties and other organisations may use the rolls for any purpose related to an election. Nairn's complaint relates to Magenta Linas passing information to unions.

However, Nairn yesterday took a completely different approach to the Kirribilli House fund raising.

The Australian reports today that the AEC has confirmed it is investigating Prime Minister John Howard's Kirribilli party for business donors.

Disclosure obligations

'The AEC will look at whether any potential disclosure obligation exists in relation to allegations and commentary in the media regarding Kirribilli House and whether it may have been the venue for fundraising activity within the context of the Commonwealth Electoral Act,' a spokesman said.

However, The Australian reports that an AEC officer confirmed he was told to 'shut up' after telling the paper that the Kirribilli function may have to be declared under electoral laws, and any failure to do so could result in a $1000 fine for the Liberal Party.

'It does appear to be a gift in kind of a venue,' AEC Funding and Disclosure Director, Kevin Bodel, said. 'In theory, there could well be a disclosure issue.'

Admits contacting commissioner

Nairn later said the AEC is independent and the Government has not intervened in the issue, but did admit contacting a commissioner last night.

'He confirmed that they weren't in possession of all of the information with respect to the AEC's knowledge of Kirribilli House - the administrative arrangements, all those sorts of things - so they weren't in a position to make any statement at that time,' Nairn said. 'But certainly, I'm sure the AEC is an independent organisation and they will do what they need to do.'

However, the AEC spokesman has since been unavailable to the media.

Not a fund-raiser, says Howard

Howard has argued the function was not a fundraiser, but has confirmed the Liberal Party would repay $5186 towards the cost of the party but would not be charged a fee to use the Prime Minister's official harbour-side residence for the party. Business donors had paid $8000 to attend the Liberal Party convention, with the welcome reception at Kirribilli listed as an official function.

ACTU document

The ACTU election guidelines document can be see at the Australian newspaper's website.

Related

ACTU election strategy 'their business', says Gillard

  

 

Post details