Liberal fundraising club was run by Kevin Andrews staffer

Kevin Andrews faces further questions over fundraising after it emerged a former staffer ran the club that backed him in opposition. Photo: Glenn HuntThe Liberal Party fundraising club that supports Defence Minister Kevin Andrews was run by one of his staff members while in opposition, raising new questions about the appropriate use of parliamentary resources.
杭州桑拿

Filings with the Australian Electoral Commission filings show that former Andrews staffer Adam Wojtonis was secretary, treasurer and contact point for the Menzies 200 Club from 2010-11 until 2012-13.

The club, an associated entity under Commonwealth electoral law, raises money to support Mr Andrews’ political career, and the Victorian Liberal Party.  Mr Wojtonis also registered the Menzies 200 Club website in 2011, records show.

At the same time, Mr Wojtonis worked as media officer to Mr Andrews who was opposition spokesman on families, housing and human services. He has since left Mr Andrews’ office for the private sector.

Mr Wojtonis’ dual roles raise questions about whether he was using taxpayer-funded parliamentary resources to raise money for Mr Andrews and the Liberal Party.

News of his involvement in the Menzies 200 Club comes amid a row over the gambling industry’s $75,000 in donations to the club as Mr Andrews oversaw development of the Coalition’s gambling policy before the 2013 election. And it adds to concern about the apparent use of Mr Andrews’ electoral office for Menzies 200 fundraising.

Mr Andrews has denied the donations influenced his decision making and Fairfax Media does not suggest otherwise.

On Tuesday, Mr Andrews said Mr Wojtonis worked for Menzies 200 in his own time. “Many staff members of MPs occupy voluntary positions within their respective parties which they undertake outside their work hours,” he said.

“One only needs to look to the Australian Labor Party and [shadow environment minister Mark Butler’s] occupancy of their national presidency as an example of this.”

Last week a staffer in Mr Andrews’ electoral office told Fairfax Media that the Menzies 200 Club was run from the office. For some years the telephone number of the electoral office was filed with the AEC as the contact number for the Menzies 200 Club.

Mr Andrews refused to answer directly when asked if the Menzies Club was operated from his office, but stressed it was run by volunteers.

The MPs’ entitlements handbook allows the use of electorate offices by community groups but it specifies that such use is “for non‑fundraising purposes”.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said the row around  the Menzies 200 fundraising was further evidence that the MP entitlement rules need an overhaul. “The rules should be unambiguous to say MPs cannot use their electoral offices for fundraising.”

Senator Xenophon said the rules were unclear about MPs themselves using their offices for fundraising.

He said the use of parliamentary resources for fundraising is a big and unfair advantage to incumbents.

“There is no reason that MPs staff and offices should be involved in fundraising at taxpayers’ expense. It would be quite easy to do it away from electoral offices.”

Fairfax Media revealed this week that Clubs NSW donated $20,000 to the Menzies 200 Club in 2013 as Mr Andrews led formulation of the Coalition’s poker machine policy.

Another $10,000 – possibly representing a Menzies 200 Club membership – was donated in June 2014 after the Abbott government took office.

This donation was made three months after a bill repealing tough poker machine regulations introduced by the former Labor government, introduced by Mr Andrews as Social Services Minister, passed the Parliament.

Fairfax also revealed a $45,000 donation from the Australian Hotels and Hospitality Association (AHA) to Menzies 200 in 2012.

The revelations led to a call by Labor leader Bill Shorten for reform of donations laws, and a push for a Senate inquiry by independent senator John Madigan.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation