International Socialists worried about Craig Kelly's visitors
Steggall statement - "If you rule out donations from anyone invested in coal, you pretty much rule out everyone"

Climate/'INTEGRITY' crusader Zali Steggall & the $100K coal donation which dare not speak its name

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Climate and integrity crusading independent federal MP Zali Steggall failed to disclose a six-figure political donation from the family trust of a multimillionaire coal investor, who is accused of tax fraud, for almost two years, an audit of her campaign financing has found.

An Australian Electoral Commission compliance review into Warringah Independent Ltd’s 2018-19 disclosures uncovered that a $100,000 cheque from The Kinghorn Family Trust, headed by prominent businessman John Kinghorn, had not been made public even though it exceeded the disclosure threshold.

Mr Kinghorn, founder of RAMS Home Loans, is facing charges over allegedly avoiding more than $30 million in tax and could face up to a decade in jail if found guilty. He has pleaded not guilty. The 80-year-old is a former investor and director of Cascade Coal and Felix Resources, which was sold to China’s Yanzhou Coal for $3.5 billion in 2009.

The AEC report, completed in February last year, found donations exceeding the $13,800 threshold were under-disclosed in Warringah Independent Ltd’s public returns. The full amount of the Kinghorn donation had been split into eight separate donations of $12,500 from Kinghorn family members, each of them falling under the minimum amount required to be disclosed.

The practice of donation splitting, when payments are divided into smaller amounts so that large payments can be concealed under the threshold, has been widely condemned by transparency advocates and donation reform campaigns such as GetUp, a strong supporter of Ms Steggall.

At the time, the financial controller of the fundraising entity was Damien Hodgkinson, who is now a director and shareholder of Climate 200 Pty Ltd, the campaign led by Simon Holmes a Court to fund climate-focused independents across the country.

The $100,000 pledge was the largest single donation of Ms Steggall’s campaign to oust former prime minister Tony Abbott from the blue-ribbon seat of Warringah, amounting to 9 per cent of the more than $1.1 million that was raised from several wealthy constituents and hundreds of community members.

Ms Steggall has been among the loudest voices in Federal Parliament calling for political donation reform, declaring in December last year that “for too long, money has been hidden from view and public scrutiny. Our democracy has been for sale”. On announcing her candidacy in 2019, she said Australia “can’t let coal companies and lobbyists buy their way into our government”.

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