Walton-linked donations put LNP $100 million afoul of AEC
A FUNDRAISING arm of the LNP was required to make amendments totalling more than $100 million to an Australian Electoral Commission declaration meant to provide greater transparency around funding of political parties.
Altum Pty Ltd, acting as trustee for Altum Property Trust, submitted its associated entity return for the 2012-13 financial year on October 24 last year, showing debts in excess of $100 million.
An AEC spokesman said the amendments, which it received on March 19 but were only posted on its website this week, were made after a review of the initial return by the AEC.
Reports at the conclusion of a review are only provided to the party agent or the entity's financial controller.
Altum Pty Ltd's board includes LNP state party treasurer and Senator Barry O'Sullivan, Robert Hutchinson, who sits on the QBCB and is a Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry life member, James Martin, chief of staff for Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey, former Liberal Party president Con Galtos and Harry Charlton of Buderim.
The property trust's business address is a Maroochydore post office box.
It was revealed earlier this year that Altum Property Trust was the landlord of failed construction business Walton, which went into liquidation in October last year owing sub-contractors more than $60 million including Sunshine Coast subbies who lost $2.9 million.
The amendments add $1.9 million received from the LNP to the total receipts received by the property trust, increases total payments from $104,000 to $3 million and reduces total debt from $100,794,170 to $10,204,901.
They also show Altum creditors as the Liberal National Party which is owed $1,887,251 (down from $2,049,665 in the original return) and LNP Nominees as Trustee for the 6 St Paul's Terrace Trust, which is owed more than $8 million where the original showed no debt.
The LNP has failed to answer a series of questions about the alterations.
At question is what the amounts shown actually represent and why there is such significant difference between the amendments and the first return which was signed off as being an accurate record.
Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Act) requires candidates, registered political parties, their state branches, local branches/sub-party units and their associated entities, donors and other participants in the electoral process to lodge annual or election period financial disclosure returns.
The AEC is then responsible for making disclosure returns available for public inspection.
It is also able to undertake reviews to assess whether a return lodged is a complete and accurate record as required by the disclosure provisions contained in Part XX of the Act.
"The reviews are routine in nature, and are not initiated by suggestion of any breach of disclosure obligations,'' an AEC spokesman said.
"In general terms they are similar to financial statement audits.
"At the conclusion of a review the AEC will issue a report to the party agent or the entity's financial controller. This report will detail any finding that the AEC believes requires an amendment to be made to correct the public disclosure record.
"A deadline of two weeks from the date of issue of the report is set for lodgement of a request to amend the disclosure return or, alternatively, to provide evidence correcting or refuting the AEC's findings."