Team Rudd had some hair-raising moments during the election campaign but one particular incident involving a $500,000 donation is still causing palpitations.

The half-million-dollar cheque arrived from a well-wisher during the opening days of the campaign and steps were taken immediately to deposit it in the war chest. But suddenly, for reasons that are still to be disclosed, a higher-up decision was taken not to accept the money. This is perhaps one of the first occasions in Australian political history that a major party has knocked back a campaign donation – from anybody – and especially when it was as large as $500,000.

According to campaign operatives, frantic phone calls were made to Westpac urging the bank not to process the cheque. “Don’t put it into our account,” was the instruction relayed from campaign HQ. When someone innocently asked why the donation wasn’t acceptable, he/she was told it was none of their business. Intriguing questions remain about the donation:

  1. Was it from an individual or a company?
  2. Who in the party solicited the donation and was the point of contact?
  3. Why was Team Rudd so hostile to the donation when it had been accepting money from all and sundry for months prior to the campaign in line with the money-gathering guidelines of the Sussex Street machine in NSW?
  4. Has the money been returned to the donor or will it go into the party’s consolidated revenue and be used for other non-election purposes?

Given the incoming federal government’s strong commitment to transparency, accountability, family values, Christian values, a campaign donation clean-up and overall wholesomeness in public life, can we expect the full details to be disclosed soon? Kevin Rudd and Tim Gartrell, ALP national secretary, it’s over to you.