This morning the SMH reported that:
Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is probing Liberal fund-raising bodies such as the Millennium Forum and questioning their influence on political favours in NSW.
Mr Hockey offers access to one of the country’s highest political offices in return for annual payments.
On Monday, Mr Abbott was asked if he was comfortable with Mr Hockey’s fund-raising activities during an interview with Channel Nine.
Mr Abbott responded by saying that he had not read the Fairfax Media report but that “all political parties have to raise money”.
“Typically, you raise money by having events where senior members of the party go and obviously they meet people at these events,” he said.
“The alternative to fund-raising in this time-honoured way, is taxpayer funding.”
Mr Abbott said that in the context of a “very tough” budget, the idea that taxpayers should fund political parties was “very, very odd”.
When asked if there should be a federal ICAC, Mr Abbott said that he thought that Canberra had a “pretty clean polity”.
But Joe has called in the lawyers. From Business Spectator:
Treasurer Joe Hockey has sought legal advice over a story in Fairfax newspapers.
…”Accusations made in Fairfax Media today are both offensive and repugnant,” Mr Hockey said in a statement.
…”As the matter is now in the hands of lawyers no further comment can be made.”
Now, Clive Palmer, of all people, is putting the boot in over conflicts of interest:
Clive Palmer has described allegations that Joe Hockey is offering privileged personal access to wealthy business people as “corruption” and called on the Treasurer to explain himself.
…“The right of access to someone to meet a politician of any party cannot involve a pre-payment or a payment of any kind, if it does, if that’s knowingly received by the politician that’s just corruption, there’s nothing else for it,” Mr Palmer said.
“People can pay money for a dinner if they want to but specifically paying to meet that person goes too far.”
Let’s get them set up to sort this out on Joe’s front garden and take appropriate snaps.