Lack of Transparency

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The Sydney Morning Herald Reports:

Climate and integrity crusading independent federal MP Zali Steggall failed to disclose a six-figure political donation from the family trust of a multimillionaire coal investor, who is accused of tax fraud, for almost two years, an audit of her campaign financing has found.

An Australian Electoral Commission compliance review into Warringah Independent Ltd’s 2018-19 disclosures uncovered that a $100,000 cheque from The Kinghorn Family Trust, headed by prominent businessman John Kinghorn, had not been made public even though it exceeded the disclosure threshold. [1]

The Sydney Morning Herald Reports:

Warringah MP Zali Steggall’s former accountant charged several independent candidates $30,000 each to set up their financial structures while simultaneously acting as a director of the fundraising group that was bankrolling their campaigns.

Damien Hodgkinson is the founding director and sole shareholder of Climate 200 — a group convened by Simon Holmes à Court to support independent candidates at the federal election — as well as the creator of the financial vehicles that funded independent campaigns in Wentworth, Warringah, Kooyong and Flinders.

He has been blamed for incorrectly recording a $100,000 donation from coal investor John Kinghorn to Ms Steggall’s 2019 campaign, and has not responded to emails and phone calls. [2]

The Sydney Morning Herald Editorial States:

Independents often present themselves as a purer alternative to candidates from the major parties. The source of their donations, especially from the clutch of wealthy Australians who may be funding the “Voices Of” movement – must come under greater scrutiny if they are to maintain a collective halo. [3]

The Australian Reports:

Google has launched an investigation into pro-climate candidates and independent MPs supported by the Climate 200 group after they were accused by a Liberal MP of failing to publicly disclose their advertising on the platform…

Under Google's transparency regimen, political candidates and parties must be verified by the social media giant if they advertise through the website, including through subsidiary platforms such as YouTube. The verification process enables Google to publish a transparency report showing funding sources for political ads and the amount being spent by candidates.

None of the pro-climate independents who are trying to unseat Liberal MPs appear on Google’s publicly available transparency report, which was last updated on Friday. The verification process usually takes five business days.

Speaking to The Weekend Australian, Mr Falinski accused the candidates of double standards. “This sets up the double standards of Simon Holmes à Court and his political party,” Mr Falinski said. [4]

[1] Climate warrior Zali Steggall failed to declare six-figure donation from family trust of coal investor, Sydney Morning Herald - 14/02/2022

[2] The backroom player at the heart of the Zali Steggall donations affair, Sydney Morning Herald - 18/02/2022

[3] Zali Steggall’s donation misstep fails transparency test, Sydney Morning Herald - 14/02/2022

[4] Google to probe ads for Australian pro-climate candidates, MPs, The Australian - 22/01/2022

The last thing Australia needs is the gridlock of a hung parliament.