Senator FAULKNER — Could I also ask whether the AEC has received
any complaints alleging a breach of the section 326 bribery provisions
in relation to Professor Flint?

Mr Dacey — Yes, we have.

Senator FAULKNER — Could you detail those for the benefit of the committee?

Mr
Dacey — We have a complaint in relation to a possible offence under 326
in relation to that affair. We have now considered that complaint, and
we advised the complainant today that the AEC’s view, on advice from
DPP, is that there is no offence disclosed.

Senator FAULKNER — So that matter has now been concluded as far as the AEC is concerned.

Mr Dacey — That is correct. On the information that we were provided by the complainant, that matter has been concluded.

Senator
FAULKNER — So you did have a complaint lodged with you. I do not think
I need to ask who the complainant was; I will not ask who the
complainant was. As a result of that complaint being lodged, you sought
advice from the DPP, did you?

Mr Dacey — We did.

Senator FAULKNER—Is that standard operating procedure for you?

Mr
Dacey — Unless we have sufficient precedent or previous advisings but,
in those sorts of cases — particularly in relation to 326, where there
is certainly a dearth of precedent — it is our usual practice to
consult with DPP.

Senator FAULKNER — Are you able to
indicate briefly what the nature of the complaint was? I do not want to
go to the complainant, but we know it is under section 326. They are
the bribery provisions. That is right, isn’t it?

Mr Dacey —
They are, Senator. I would rather not go into the detail of the nature
of the complaints. I would rather that be between thecomplainant and us at this stage.

Senator
FAULKNER — All right. I suppose it is something that we can revisit at
a later stage. Can you indicate to us when the complaint was lodged?

Mr Dacey — Off the top of my head, no.

Senator FAULKNER — I assumed it was sometime after all the publicity.

Mr Dacey — It was a couple of weeks ago. Off the top of my head, I cannot give you the exact date.

Senator FAULKNER — You seem to have dealt with this matter pretty quickly.

Mr
Dacey — We try as best we can. Certainly, as we head into an election
and we get more of these sorts of complaints under 326, 328 and 329, we
have arrangements with DPP where, if we need to consult with them, we
turn them around as fast as we can.

Senator FAULKNER — Did you seek any other advices before referring this to the DPP?

Mr Dacey — This particular matter?

Senator FAULKNER — Yes.

Mr Dacey — No we did not. We only looked at what we have on record internally in relation to similar issues.

ends

What’s
it all about, Crikey? Well, we hear a complaint was been made to the
AEC by two academics who are experts in electoral law.

The
complaint deals with those John Laws allegations about the Parrot, the
PM and David Flint’s reappointment as head of the ABA – and whether or
not they meets the definition of electoral bribery under Section 326 of
the Electoral Act.

326 states in summary “A person shall
not ask for… any…benefit of any kind, whether for… any other person, on
an understanding that… any support of… a candidate… or a political
party [by that person]… will, in any manner, be influenced or affected.”

The complainants want to know about the alleged behaviour of our feathered friend and how it might be viewed under 326.

The
Parrot and the PM, of course, have both denied Laws’ allegations – but
the Courier Mail has reported that John Howard lobbied hard for Flint’s
reappointment. Surely this muddied scenario needs to be cleared up?

One
person who might be able to help is Anthony Roberts, the Member for
Lane Cove in the New South Wales Parliament but formerly the
go-between for the PM and the Parrot. Perhaps Faulkner should be asking
if the Electoral Commission has spoken to him.

Peter Fray

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