Greens Political Donations
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL [6.25 p.m.]: Members of this House would be aware of my interest in the topic of campaign finance regulation. This morning as I enjoyed my breakfast I was most fascinated to read Tim Dick's article in the Sydney Morning Herald outlining the City of Sydney Council's new tough stand on political donations. The move, the journalist explained, is designed to boost the Greens-backed campaign against developer donations. This makes particularly disturbing reading considering the revelation that the Greens have been soliciting developer donations themselves and conspiring to disguise them. While criticising major parties for accepting contributions from the building industry, the Greens have been greedily planning to line their pockets from the very same source. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. What makes this matter even more alarming, however, is the fact that members of the Greens have conspired to keep their developer donations a secret. The New South Wales Greens have set out to deceive the public, setting up a covert and illegal scheme to conceal the true source of their funds, by channelling money through a non-government organisation, the innocently named Rainforest Information Centre.
Ms Lee Rhiannon: Point of order: The member is misleading the House because it is on the record at an estimates—
The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Amanda Fazio): Order! There is no point of order.
Ms Lee Rhiannon: It is on record that it never occurred.
The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Amanda Fazio): Order! There is no point of order. The Hon. Eric Roozendaal has the call.
The Hon. ERIC ROOZENDAAL: This represents a conspiracy to breach section 305B (2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which requires disclosure of such indirect donations. To debase the scheme even further, Greens donors are also encouraged to benefit from the charity status of the Rainforest Information Centre and claim tax deductions. This illegal conspiracy was not only intended to evade Federal legislation, it was intended to defraud the Commonwealth of taxation revenue as well. These are very serious allegations that I make to the House, and the evidence to support them is truly sensational. Leaked copies of minutes from the Queensland Greens Management Committee and emails between party officials in August 2002 show that an agreement existed between the Queensland and New South Wales branches of the party to funnel donations through the Rainforest Information Centre. This was well documented on the Crikey web site in 2003 and in the Courier Mail this month by Lachlan Heywood. The leaked minutes and emails were even tabled in Canberra at a Senate estimates meeting of the Finance and Public Administration Committee. I happen to have in my possession a copy of the minutes, and they make very interesting reading. I quote the Queensland management committee:
The NSW Greens are having a "We don't take money from developers" campaign and have asked us to abide by this. We have been asked to ask ecological sensitive developers—
which I assume means developers who donate to the Greens—
to donate to the Rainforest Information Centre who will reroute the money to the Queensland Greens.
This shows what hypocrites the Greens are. A motion to this effect was moved by the high-profile former Queensland Greens convenor and Senate candidate Drew Hutton. He is a man at the top of the Queensland Greens organisation—this conspiracy starts at the very top. In later emails Mr Hutton wrote of the need to keep the rainforest scheme secret and covert. He wrote in an email on 12 August:
I agree with Richard [Neilson] about not mentioning the rerouting
This was in response to Mr Neilson's email suggesting that the plan to reroute donated money is "not good minute material". It was a trail of emails showing a plan to doctor the minutes in a blatant cover-up. And yet Mr Hutton and his accomplices seem to be very casual about it. Perhaps this comes from experience. Of course, when they say "rerouting money to the Rainforest Information Centre" they really mean a conspiracy to launder money to hide the true source of donations. The cumulative weight of the minutes and emails, all now tabled in Federal Parliament, proves that there was a directive issued at the very top of the Queensland Greens organisation from the New South Wales branch to hide developer donations so that it would not expose the hypocrisy of its campaign against accepting developers donations—a gross conspiracy.
We know that a high-ranking member of the Queensland Greens received the directive. We know who was involved at that end and who implemented it. We are yet to discover who from the New South Wales Greens gave the order for the cover-up. It had to be somebody senior. It is a sure bet that Hutton was not acting on the orders of a rank-and-file member of the Greens. It had to be someone intimately involved with the organisation of the Greens party. It had to be someone with the authority to make Drew Hutton act. Until we know the identities of those involved the public cannot be sure that the Greens parliamentary representatives were not complicit in this nefarious and illegal scheme. After all, the parliamentary wing of the Greens has been driving the campaign to ban developer donations. It would now appear that getting their interstate comrades to hide the donations was also part of their campaign. If the Greens are true to form, those responsible will have properly minuted their clandestine meetings and emails, and their identity should come to light soon. It is time for the New South Wales Greens to own up to their hypocritical and corrupt behaviour, and come clean about what has been going on with their cover-up.
Motion agreed to.
The House adjourned at 6.30 p.m. until Thursday 24 February 2005 at 11.00 a.m.