New evidence of corruption in the NSW Liberal Party has been pouring out through the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC).
Investigations have revealed that illegal donations were sanctioned at the highest levels of the NSW Party. Even the head of Liberal fundraising in Tony Abbott’s electorate, John Caputo, has admitted to breaches of donations laws.
Donations from developers, which have been illegal in NSW since 2011, were secretly channeled through two front companies into the Liberal Party. This arrangement was used to disguise where the donations were coming from and skirt the ban. Paul Nicolau, head of the party’s key fundraising body the Millennium Foundation, reportedly briefed Simon McInnes, then the party’s finance director, on how one of the front companies, the Free Enterprise Foundation, worked. McInnes was forced to stand down as acting State Director of the Liberals when the news broke.
Another front company, EightbyFive, was used by former Liberal Energy Minister Chris Hartcher to channel more than $400,000 into the campaigns of Liberal MPs on the Central Coast. One company, Gazal, paid $137,000 into the EightbyFive slush fund, and was rewarded with the approval of a controversial development in Orange Grove after the Liberals won power.
A long-time staffer for Chris Hartcher has told the ICAC that “everybody” in the Liberal Party knew about the Free Enterprise Foundation scheme.
The Police and Justice Minister Mike Gallacher has became the latest Liberal Minister forced to resign over corruption. The scandal could still claim more scalps.
The culture of corruption has been exposed as endemic in NSW politics. The Liberals’ favours for big business are no new development. And corruption is a product of the way business works under capitalism. Money buys access and influence at the highest levels of government. The only solution is to take the wealth in society out of the hands of a rich elite