ACT News


Parties took lawyer's $10,000 gifts

The two parties battling against changes to the ACT's compensation laws both took $10,000 gifts from one of Canberra's biggest personal injury lawyers.

Electoral disclosure documents reveal Mark Blumer, husband and business partner of ACT Law Society chief Noor Blumer, donated $10,000 each to the Greens and the Liberals nine days before the October election.

The Canberra Times revealed in May that the Law Society spent $131,000 on its publicity campaign against the changes to the territory's compulsory motor insurance and workers' compensations schemes.

Ms Blumer and Canberra Liberals Deputy Leader Brendan Smyth openly conferred in the Assembly Chamber in August while Mr Smyth amended the government's motor registration bill, and in the Law Society's annual report, Ms Blumer thanked the Liberals and the Greens for removing ''repugnant provisions'' from the legislation.

Electoral disclosure documents published by Elections ACT show Mr Blumer, a director at Blumers Personal Injury Lawyers, made a $10,000 donation to the Canberra Liberals on October 11 and another to the ACT Greens on October 12, just over a week before the ACT election.

Mr and Mrs Blumer could not be reached for comment on Friday.


ACT Greens convener Clare Quinn said the party had decided its position on workers' compensation and third party insurance independently of the donation.

''As the donation was over $1000, it was referred to the ACT Greens' Donations Reference Group in order to be accepted,'' Ms Quinn said.

She said the reference group assessed donations against criteria including whether the values of the donor were consistent with those of the Greens and whether the donation could create a conflict of interest for individual MLAs or the party.

''The Donations Reference Group had no objections to the donation in question.''

Asked whether accepting the donation was appropriate, Canberra Liberals campaign manager Stephen Doyle said: ''Unlike the Labor Party we do not receive millions in gambling donations and so depend on wide-ranging community support.

''The campaign was very pleased with the level of support we received for the election.''

In August, Treasurer Andrew Barr said amendments by the Liberals and Greens to the motor registration legislation had ''gutted'' ACT Labor's proposed reforms.

Mr Barr said the bill passed by the Legislative Assembly before the election achieved none of the government's aims except to close a legal loophole that had monopoly insurer NRMA threatening to apply for a $45 increase in annual premiums in addition to the $52 increase approved in July.

The Treasurer said there had been ''no genuine progress'' towards a regime that would attract competition into the market and put downward pressure on compulsory third-party insurance premiums, the major component of motor registration bills.