Labor’s Queensland branch won’t be paying back a $2200 donation from Australian Water Holdings until it gets some clarification from the NSW anti-corruption watchdog.
AWH is at the centre of a NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into alleged improper dealings involving former NSW state politicians and the state-owned Sydney Water.
One of the allegations is that AWH disguised political donations and other expenses as administration costs and charged them back to Sydney Water – effectively using taxpayers’ money for party purposes.
The inquiry heard Sydney Water had “unwillingly, unknowingly been a principle donor to the Liberal Party”.
The Liberal Party has begun the process of paying back donations received from AWH dating back to 2009.
But Queensland ALP secretary Anthony Chisholm told AAP on Friday his party would not immediately pay back $2200 donated during a July 2010 federal election campaign fundraising function.
“If there’s evidence it is public money we are happy to give it back,” Mr Chisholm said.
“We haven’t seen the evidence that it was and we are writing to ICAC to seek clarification.”
The $2200 is understood to have paid for a ticket to the function.
While one of the figures at the heart of the ICAC inquiry, Eddie Obeid jnr, was involved in AWH’s Queensland subsidiary it is understood the donation was not made by him.
One of the Liberal bodies that has already refunded money from AWH is a fundraising group in Treasurer Joe Hockey’s North Sydney electorate, which to date has paid back $33,000.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said in Melbourne on Friday there were clear laws for campaign funding in Australia and everyone had to abide by them.
“The laws have got to be adhered to. Full stop. No excuses. No exceptions,” Mr Shorten said.
NSW Nationals acting state director Greg Dezman said his party had this week cancelled a donation from AWH which it received in October 2010.
The party disclosed the $10,000 donation on the Australian Electoral Commission website.
“The party earlier this week decided to cancel this donation,” Mr Dezman said in a statement on Friday.
“We are currently making enquiries in an effort to determine whether this donation was charged by AWH as an expense to Sydney Water.
“If it is found that it was, the donation will be returned to Sydney Water. Otherwise, it will be returned to AWH.”