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Liberals asked to clarify $73,000 disclosure gap

ACT Electoral Commissioner Phil Green said, ''We'll be looking at this discrepancy and asking what's going on.''

ACT Electoral Commissioner Phil Green said, ''We'll be looking at this discrepancy and asking what's going on.'' Photo: Jay Cronan

The territory's electoral commissioner says he will ask the ACT Liberal Party to explain inconsistencies in its reporting of donations it received in 2012-13.

Commissioner Phil Green said he would examine a $73,000 discrepancy between gifts of money the division disclosed in its annual returns and the disclosures it reported to Elections ACT during the financial year.

On Monday, Elections ACT published the 2012-13 financial data for ACT political parties.

The annual returns show ACT Labor spent $1.5 million during the year, which included the ACT election campaign.

The Canberra Liberals spent $953,800, while the ACT Greens tripled their spending on the previous year to $653,800.

ACT Labor appears to have reduced its debt to $11,240 and the Liberals to $47,161 but the ACT Greens' debt has grown to $54,020.

The returns also list gifts, receipts and anonymous donations to all ACT political parties.

Under electoral disclosure laws, parties must report gifts of more than $1000 to Elections ACT within 30 days of receiving them and within seven days during an election campaign. During 2012-13, the Canberra Liberals declared $59,000 in gifts of money to Elections ACT. The annual return published on Monday lists $132,000 in gifts of money.

''It would appear that the two aren't consistent and we'll be investigating why they aren't consistent,'' Mr Green said.

''A possible explanation is to do with the definition of gift.

''We'll be looking at this discrepancy and asking what's going on.''

Elections ACT data shows the ACT Labor Party reported $19,000 in gifts of money but the annual return lists $1800 in gifts of money and $7500 in gifts of money and receipts.

An ACT Liberal Party spokeswoman said the Canberra Liberals' discrepancy was due to the different reporting requirements for annual returns and the ongoing disclosures of donations to Elections ACT.

''The ongoing disclosure requires that every gift over $1000 has to be disclosed,'' she said. ''However, with a gift, we are able to account for up to $250 as costs for the event that the person attended. The annual report requires that every receipt over $1000 has to be disclosed.''

The spokeswoman said the different reporting rules meant the figure in annual returns was always higher than the ongoing report.

Mr Green said the major parties would be audited in coming months.

''This is really the first time that parties have had to put in annual returns in this level of detail,'' he said. ''So it's not surprising that there might be some discrepancies thrown up. The audit process will look at that.''

2 comments

  • They should give that money to me, because I rule

    Commenter
    TheFaceless
    Date and time
    September 03, 2013, 11:52AM
    • It's pretty obvious the ACT Liberals have got something wrong. If you look at the list of regularly reported gifts received compared to the annual return, for some donors the annual return lists a smaller number than was disclosed earlier. The explanation given suggests that it might be OK for the annual return to have higher numbers in some instances, but the annual return should always be equal to or more than the amounts disclosed earlier. Phil Green will have some work to do in sorting out what should have actually been reported.

      The Party of each MLA started getting $20,000 a year in new funding from July last year, in part to make sure they could comply with the new disclosure rules. If they can't properly report to Elections ACT when they have been given an extra $120,000+ in public funding, how are they going to win government, let alone run the place. Hopefully they will sort themselves out well before the 2016 ACT election, otherwise we will end up with 19+ straight years of mediocre-bad Labor government.

      Commenter
      Unimpressed Liberal Voter
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      September 03, 2013, 12:08PM
      Comments are now closed
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