Last night the Victorian Parliament’s grounds were used by the Platinum Forum, a fundraising body established by the Liberal Party to obtain financial support for political campaigns in the south-east of Melbourne. This is believed to be in breach of guidelines that ban political fundraisers from the Parliament.
A marquee costing thousands of dollars was assembled for the Platinum Forum, with a large staff provided by the Parliament to serve drinks and nibblies to the donors. One of those attending said it was a relaxing evening of speeches, opera, nice drinkies and a large assembly of oldies not previously assembled in that part of the CBD since the days of Cats matinees.
WHO GAINS FROM THE TAKINGS OF THE BIG TENT?
Victorian MPs Heidi Victoria, preselection challenged Kim Wells, Nick Wakeling, said to be close allies of current state Liberal leader Ted Baillieu and their Club Fed chum, womens’ clothing enthusiast Chris Pearce (a committed Costello supporter in Canberra but thought to bat for both sides at home) are all said to be the beneficiaries of the proceeds of the hitherto little known Platinum Forum.
While state MPs are free to host functions in the building and in the grounds of the Victorian Parliament, it is well established that formal political fundraising events are not held there to avoid suggestions that parties are relying on the taxpayer funded and owned facility to cash in and generate funds for themselves.
“The ban on political fundraisers is also designed to avoid the impression the building is for sale to donors, it’s considered to be very disrespectful and undermining of the institution” one source familiar with the operation of the Parliament explained to VEXNEWS.
Another said “As an MP, you can pretty much do anything you want there within good taste but not explicitly holding party fundraisers, it’s not allowed and if they’d honestly disclosed what they were doing they would have found the booking refused.I wouldn’t like to be the MP who booked the event. I wonder who it was.”
We share their curiousity and will be seeking answers to this today.
The Platinum Forum appears to have a high degree of organisation as a political fundraising operation. Its website explains:
The Platinum Forum is an innovative group of individuals supporting Liberals in the Outer East of Melbourne. The Forum is aimed at building and sustaining Liberal values and forging strong links between local business leaders and the Liberal Party. Our activities support Liberal candidates in the Federal seat of Aston and the State seats of Bayswater, Ferntree Gully and Scoresby.
We offer a range of functions to our members, including events with high profile guest speakers, boardroom briefings, policy seminars and social activities. At many of these functions, members are welcome to invite guests along. However, there are also a number of functions which are exclusive, member-only events.
Their site pledges smaller boardroom briefings so you can get even better access than at rival party functions you might get hassled to attend where the access you think you’ve paid for is somewhat diluted by sitting next to a thousand other spivs who’d like a licence to sell scratchie tickets in Victoria, to choose a totally random example.
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT PLATINUM
All very good and worthy stuff. If we didn’t let party’s raise funds from business it would leave the cashed-up environment movement, trade unions and other vested interests dominate without hearing at all from employers and small business. And if the restrictions some in the Left seek on donations were in force, only politicians and bureaucrats would be able to determine who got to have political ads during elections.So we don’t have an issue with the Platinum Forum and hope it does very well indeed.
But their pitch does all sound rather familiar, doesn’t it?
Yes, it sounds just like the Liberal 500 Club and ALP’s Progressive Business. But they don’t have their fundraisers at Parliament House. Food – or canapÃ©s – for thought.
We have referred this matter to the Victorian Parliament’s Presiding Officers for their consideration.