The link between political donations and gongs has still not been
examined by anyone in the mainstream media, but our old friends at The
Northern Territory News
did publish the following on page 11 yesterday:

Crikey, Stone’s mad

Former chief minister Shane Stone has slammed Crikey website correspondent
Stephen Mayne for suggesting Darwin pearl magnate Nick Paspaley gained a
Queen’s birthday honour because of his generous CLP donations.
Mayne asked if Mr Stone – a 2006 Companion of the Order of Australia –
would he have been Mr Paspaley’s nominator for the AC in 1995 if he had
“donated four times as much to the Labor Party as the conservatives”?

Mr Stone said Mr Paspaley had been a “good supporter” of the CLP but said
the community group that nominated him were “intensely proud” of his

Meanwhile, another big donating gong recipient has come to our attention in
the form of millionaire NSW property developer Hilton Grugeon.

Grugeon was made a member
of the award’s General Division – that’s an AM, to you and me – for
service to the community through contributions to business and economic
development in the Hunter region, and as a benefactor to a range of
not-for-profit organisations.

But Grugeon’s contributions to the
community also include his being the funding force, and public face, of
the electoral lobby group Hunter First, which claimed political
independence but was widely accused of promoting only Liberal Party candidates with its costly “Sack the Safe Seats” campaign during the 2003 state election.

Grugeon’s financial connection with the Liberal Party came into question again
just last week, with reports that Hunter First was looking to revive
its campaign in the lead-up to the 2007 election. Swansea MP Milton
Orkopoulos called for a reform of the Electoral Funding Act after
alleging “Mr Big Bucks Grugeon” declared less than $20,000 in political
funding despite “trumpeting” about the $200,000 cost of the 2003

Grugeon has since hit back
at these comments saying that Hunter First’s “Sack the Safe Seats”
campaign was simply “about saying let’s stop being taken for granted
(by the state government).”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey