NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley has asked Labor to quarantine potentially dodgy donations at the centre of a corruption inquiry.
The NSW Labor leader has moved to quarantine any potentially “tainted” donations at the centre of an anti-corruption investigation into his party’s dealings.
The state Independent Commission Against Corruption is reportedly investigating $100,000 worth of donations received by the Labor Party at a 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor fundraising dinner.
The donations were the focus of an ICAC raid on NSW Labor’s head office in December, according to the ABC.
NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley on Feb. 4 directed his party’s head office to quarantine $100,000 and send it to the NSW Electoral Commission.
“I’ve spoken to the secretary of the Labor Party today and I’ve issued her a very simple direction—work with the electoral commission and send them $100,000 to quarantine,” Mr Daley told reporters on Feb. 4.
“I don’t know if there’s any tainted money in those donations but if there is, I don’t want a bar of it. We won’t be using any of it in the campaign.”
However, later in the day, a NSW Labor spokesman told AAP the money would not be sent to the NSWEC unless the ICAC finds it was improperly donated.
The cash will instead be kept, for now, in a trust with an accounting firm.
“This arrangement has been reached following consultation with the NSW Electoral Commission,” the spokesman told AAP in a statement.
The ICAC is reportedly investigating 20 donations made to the party at the Chinese Friends of Labor dinner ahead of the 2015 state election, which Labor leader Bill Shorten attended, according to The Australian.
The event was attended by more than 600 people, including the state opposition leader at the time, Luke Foley, and Federal MP Chris Bowen. The donations for the fundraiser went to the party’s campaign account for the state election.
The watchdog is thought to be examining whether the donations may have been given by so-called “straw donors,” or people who agree for political donations to be made in their name on behalf of other people, which is a crime under NSW electoral law.
It's best known for its custard puffs but now this Sydney restaurant is at the centre of a corruption investigation into political donations.
It is illegal under NSW electoral law for people to put their name to donations from other people or parties.
The organiser of the fundraiser, Jonathan Yee, also chairman of Chinese Friends of Labor until late 2018, is currently part of ICAC’s investigation as he and his contacts were the main donors at the event.
Yee, his mother and brother, his family company, the company which owns a neighbouring gift shop, and two more donors who have worked for the Yee family were among the donors on the night, reported the ABC.
Yee told the ABC, “Chinese Friends of Labor is a vehicle to promote Labor Policy to the Chinese Community and that the Chinese Community can use the association to convey community issues to the Labor Party.
“It is also a vehicle to [raise funds] for Labor through dinners like 12th of March 2015,” he said.
According to the report, Yee is an aspiring Labor politician. He was unsuccessful in his bid to run as a party candidate at the 2016 local election for Sydney City Council.
The ABC did not suggest that Yee was suspected by ICAC of being involved in any straw donations.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian jumped on saying, “It’s now a matter for … the Labor Party and ICAC, but it’s at face value very concerning.”
“Unfortunately many people must be shaking their heads thinking ‘Nothing much has changed in the Labor Party,'” Berejiklian told reporters on Feb. 4.
Mr Daley said he had no prior knowledge of the information contained in the ABC report.
“In my 23 years in public life, I have always acted with integrity,” the Labor leader said.
“Any public official, elected or otherwise, who does not (act with integrity), deserves the full weight of the law to be applied to them.”
By Tom Rabe. Epoch Times writer Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.
Australian Associated Press