On the eve of the South Australian election, opposition leader Isobel Redmond has been forced to answer questions about a legal deal she was involved in as member for Heysen.

The deal, which Redmond oversaw as legal advisor, concerns an investment in the Mount Barker Bowls Club by the Stirling Bowling Club Foundation in 2008. It’s alleged Redmond, a Stirling trustee, approved money to be sent to Mount Barker despite the club’s constitution forbidding such a move.

The money, raised from the sale of the Stirling club in 2004, was given to Mount Barker on the proviso it be used for the construction of a new undercover bowling green. According to sources, the trust began to send the money unconstitutionally and then retrospectively changed the constitution to allow it.

Documents sent to Crikey show a sum of $6000 was sent to the Mount Barker Bowls Club on January 25, 2008, with the foundation’s minutes on February 15 detailing their plans to change the rules of the foundation. A letter was then sent to the Adelaide Hills Council on March 4 that year detailing plans for the money, which Crikey understands amounted to in excess of $500,000.

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Sources have told Crikey the $6000 was used to pay for architectural fees in order to design the dome that would be used for the undercover green.

“The fact that this money was used for architectural fees implies that discussions between Stirling and Mount Barker were going on for a while,” they said. “These discussions took place before the club’s constitution was changed, with everyone on the foundation’s side being well aware of what was going on.

“I’m not sure if it’s a legal question, but it’s certainly a question of ethics.”

But asked whether the trust acted unconstitutionally, Redmond was unequivocal about her role in the matter.

“I made every effort to make sure anything that the trust did was above board,” she told Crikey. “I am pretty conscientious about any conflicts of interest in this business, having studied law for more than 30 years.”

Redmond said she was chosen as a trust member because of her legal experience and her standing in the community as a member of parliament.

“I was not in the position of legal advisor, however I did provide advice when the trust required it,” she said.

The source also claimed the trust transferred some of the funds to the Uraidla Bowling Club. Redmond is a member of the club.

The Liberal leader said money “could have been sent to Uraidla” but the amount would have been “minimal”. She said the allegations are a response to Mount Barker receiving the money, instead of other clubs in the Adelaide Hills area.

Peter Fray

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