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NSW Corruption Commission commences public inquiry into Labor's 2015 Chinese donations scandal

Exhibit One - ICAC's announcement

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Exhibit Two - Labor  NSW President Mark Lennon's email to the party faithful yesterday.

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The Labor Party strives to put the needs of working Australians at the forefront of the public debate.

We have always delivered for working Australians - whether it’s Medicare, superannuation, workers’ rights or education reform.

In order to do this, the Party has campaigned at both general elections and by-elections and sought the support of its members, union brothers and sisters, and volunteers.

A public inquiry into donations made in 2015, will commence next week.

While these are historic matters, we take them very seriously.

We will do everything we can to co-operate and assist the investigating body with these matters.

If it is found that anyone has breached any legislation, the Party will act on these findings.

In 2019 Labor has a more transparent donation disclosure system than any other political party in Australia.

Labor will continue to seek bipartisan improvements to the current electoral funding laws.

As a member, you can be certain that Labor has put in place dozens of governance improvements. These have made to make our Party a more accountable, more transparent and a more responsible corporate citizen.

Since 2015 Labor, among other things:

  • Banned cash donations more than $1,000;
  • Publishes disclosable donations within seven days of it being received;
  • Formed the Finance and Compliance Committee increasing our internal oversight;
  • Introduced a Governance Director ensuring we meet our legal obligations; and
  • Introduced new financial oversight rules.

Still, we recognise there is always room for improvement. We will continue to make governance changes to ensure we meet and exceed the expectations of the Australian public.

We thank you for your ongoing support and solidarity.

Mark Lennon
President, NSW Labor

Sound like Lennon and ICAC are talking about the same thing?

Lennon makes no mention of ICAC or a corruption commission - it's just a "public inquiry" and Labor will do everything to assist the "investigating body" with "these matters".  

Here's part of an ABC News report from February this year.

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NSW Labor will quarantine $100,000 of donation funds at the heart of a corruption investigation which is asking questions about a sitting Labor MP, former party boss, a billionaire property developer and cash donations linked to a prominent family of restaurateurs.

Key points:

  • ABC can reveal 20 donations totaling $100,000 made on the same day to NSW Labor are target of corruption probe
  • Most of the donors are connected to a well-known Sydney restaurateur family
  • Corruption watchdog examining "straw donor" theory and asking questions about billionaire property developer

The probe by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) burst into the public arena in December, when officers raided the NSW ALP headquarters over a fundraising dinner on March 12, 2015.

Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen and a who's who of federal and state Labor politicians attended the dinner, which was just over two weeks before the NSW election.

It was formally organised by Chinese Friends of Labor — an ALP body designed to win votes and solicit donations from NSW's electorally-important Chinese-Australian community.

Since the raid the ALP headquarters has been a hotbed of rumours about what ICAC has been investigating but little was known, until now.

The ABC can reveal the investigators are focusing on 20 donations linked to a Chinese Friends of Labor dinner totalling $100,000 that were lodged on April 9, 2015, by a dozen people and businesses.

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Do you know more about this story? Email [email protected]

Crucially, ICAC is examining whether the $100,000 was in fact given by so-called "straw donors" — front people who agree to put their names to donations from other people to political parties. That is a crime under NSW electoral law.

The ABC's report today prompted condemnation from Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

State Opposition Leader Michael Daley has asked his party to quarantine $100,000 worth of donations while the corruption watchdog investigates their origin.

"I don't know if there's any tainted money in those donations, but if there is, I don't want a bar of them, and we won't be using any of them in the campaign," Mr Daley said.

Ms Berejiklian says electoral laws in new south wales are the strongest in the nation and the probe is worrying.

"It's now a matter for … the Labor Party and ICAC, but it's at face value very concerning," the Premier said.

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The ABC's report is quite lengthy and comprehensive if you're after more background.