“My parents always told me, if you have done nothing wrong you have got nothing to fear by telling the truth,” Peter Costello told us last week. Always?

That good boy scout the Treasurer has tried to draw a distinction between his and Honest John’s understanding of Liberal leadership discussions. The polls say we believe him. Should we?

Remember the rows over the Greenfields Foundation, the mysterious fundraising front that donated more than $4.5 million to the Liberal Party? In 1999 the Australian Electoral Commission ruled the Foundation was an associated entity of the Liberal Party, forcing it to open its books – but the details of its financial backers still remain a mystery.

The Treasurer was questioned about the Foundation back then. Here’s an interview that’s worth revisiting. We presume he told the truth – though it sure seemed he was stuttering:

NEIL MITCHELL: So what’s the Greenfields Foundation?

TREASURER: I don’t actually do any of those matters myself, so you’d have to . . .

MITCHELL: You must know.

TREASURER: Well, actually . . .

MITCHELL: You’ve got a $4.6 million loan to the Liberal Party.

TREASURER: Well, it’s a foundation, obviously, that gives money to the Liberal Party but other than that I can’t add I’m afraid.

MITCHELL: Who’s behind it, do you know?

TREASURER: I don’t run that Neil.

MITCHELL: I know you don’t run it, do you know who’s behind it?

TREASURER: I don’t have any information on it.

MITCHELL: Do you know who’s behind it?


MITCHELL: Ron Walker?

TREASURER: Wouldn’t know.

MITCHELL: Really? You got $4.6 million loan to the Federal Liberal Party, you don’t know who’s behind it?

TREASURER: Well, I’m a Treasurer in the Liberal Government, I run the economy, I don’t manage fundraising activities.

MITCHELL: Do you think in the interests of transparency that whoever that is should be declared?

TREASURER: Well it has been declared.

MITCHELL: The Greenfields Foundation, who is it?

TREASURER: It’s been declared as the Greenfield Foundation.

MITCHELL: Who is it?

TREASURER: It’s been done in accordance with the law, and there it is.

MITCHELL: And you don’t think in the interests of transparency we should know who it is?

TREASURER: Well you do, it’s the Greenfields Foundation. It’s like saying, it’s like saying, you know, who is Santos? I mean, there would be people in Santos . . .

MITCHELL: We know who runs and owns Santos.

TREASURER: Well, I don’t…

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey