Jun 17, 2007

Transcript: Liberal fundraiser at Kirribilli House, preselection of Alex Hawke

Transcript of media conference – Electorate Office, 334a Marrickville Rd, Marrickville


Subject: Liberal Party fundraiser at Kirribilli House, preselection of extreme right winger Alex Hawke for the Liberal Party in Mitchell

Sunday 17 June 2007

ALBANESE: With every sentence about the Cash for Canapés affair, John Howard’s inconsistencies multiply.

Last Thursday he asserted that he did not use The Lodge or Kirribilli House for Liberal Party functions. We now know that on 18 October he hosted a Reception Dinner at the Lodge for the Young Liberals Conference. We know that was paid for by the Australian tax-payers on the grounds that it was an "official function".

This is about as credible as his argument that the function at Kirribilli House with fine wines, oysters, prawns and other fine gourmet food cost under $10 a head. The only way that could have occurred was if guests jumped over the fence, threw a line in, caught the fish themselves and perhaps shucked some oysters off the rocks. We know that it is simply not credible and we know that the Prime Minister doesn’t draw a distinction between tax-payers funds and the interests of the Liberal Party.

We now know also with the selection of an extreme right wing candidate for the Federal seat of Mitchell that the Prime Minister is simply out of touch with the views of mainstream Australian families.

Alex Hawke is an extremist and a divisive character, and has been blamed by John Brogden as being one of the key people responsible for his demise and for creating division in the Liberal Party.

The endorsement of Alex Hawke personifies just how extreme the modern Liberal Party under John Howard has become. The question that Liberal voters will be asking themselves is ‘is there any room for mainstream or moderate voices in the current climate of the Liberal Party?’

REPORTER: In relation to The Lodge incident and the latest thing that popped up, isn’t the PM entitled to general hospitality at The Lodge or Kirribilli House?

ALBANESE: Well, the Prime Minister is not entitled to mislead the Australian public. It’s only last Thursday he said this never occurred. And we now know it has occurred, but we don’t know how many times. We know that with the Kirribilli House function it was a fundraiser. People paid $8,250 per head, and the Liberal Party re-paid a total amount of $5,400.

Earlier last week, the Prime Minister and Senator Minchin asserted that the figure was $5,100. Why did it go up by a few hundred dollars? Because the Prime Minister slipped up in Question Time on Thursday, where he asserted that the Liberal Party had also paid a few hundred dollars for security. So, last Thursday afternoon they added that onto the bill. This is quite extraordinary. And before last Thursday, we didn’t know that this was a regular event, and that indeed four of these Liberal Party Federal Council fundraising functions had been hosted at Kirribilli House and at The Lodge at great cost to the Australian tax-payer.

REPORTER: Do you know if this Young Lib function was a fundraiser?

ALBANESE: No, but we know that on the website of the Young Liberals it shows that fundraising was discussed at the meeting they held on the same day as the function. So we don’t know whether there was funds raised there, but we do know that the Prime Minister now regards Kirribilli House and The Lodge as his personal homes, whereas we all know that they are actually the assets of the Australian people.

REPORTER: With this event in particular, is it less bad than the other ones which have been officially declared as fundraisers as the Prime Minister conceded the other day?

ALBANESE: It is perhaps less crude, because there is no evidence that people paid $8,250 per head to attend, but we do need to know the detail of the extent to which Kirribilli House and The Lodge have been used for the largesse of the Liberal Party and to raise funds both directly and indirectly.

Labor has received legal advice from Senior Counsel which indicates quite clearly that, unless it is declared as a gift, the Kirribilli function was a breach of the Australian electoral act. We understand the AEC is examining that advice and we look forward to their response. I note that the person in charge of Funding and Disclosure at the AEC, Mr Bodel, saw it as a potential breach when he was first asked about it last Wednesday night by The Australian before he was gagged.

REPORTER: Would any of these functions happen under a Rudd Labor Government?

ALBANESE: It is clearly inappropriate for fundraising to be held at these venues. Under a Rudd Labor Government of course there will only be one Prime Ministerial residence as is appropriate, as every other Prime Minister has seen fit. And that will be The Lodge. Kevin has made it very clear there will be none of this misuse and abuse of tax-payer funds in order to raise funds for the Labor Party