Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm has told staff he will “ignore tax” and pay $5000 in cash to Liberal Democrat Party founder John Humphreys to replace policy adviser Helen Dale, according to an email reported to be from Leyonhjelm. Dale has quit in the middle of the election campaign.

Dale (nee Darville, and also known under the pseudonym Helen Demidenko) walked from Leyonhjem’s office after a dispute over “being subjected to oversight on Facebook stuff”, according to an internal email obtained by Crikey.

The email reportedly sent by Leyonhjelm — which he doesn’t deny sending — confirms Dale left the office and suggests replacing Dale with Humphreys …

“Hi all,

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Helen Dale resigned from my staff yesterday. She got upset on Wednesday at being subjected to oversight on Facebook stuff, spent Thursday “working from home”, and quit yesterday.

I’m disappointed that she chose to quit in the middle of a very intense campaign, but I expected her to leave after the election anyway. She probably would have stayed if I had put her in charge, but then my other staff would have left.

We need to replace some of her skills, at least for the campaign.

First of these is writing. She is an excellent writer and a reliable copy-editor. I’m surrounded by staff who can’t punctuate and who put capital letters in the wrong places, so I’m going to require someone for that role (Duncan and I can do it, but we’re both pretty pushed). I’m hoping I can hire someone on a short term contract for the rest of the campaign. If you have any thoughts as to who might be suitable, let me know asap.

Helen is also quite good at social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter. I’m proposing the party hires John Humphreys for this role. He can do it from Brisbane and it would only be until the election. I suggest a lump sum figure of $5000 cash (half now, half at the end). We’ll ignore tax etc. I could possibly put him on the taxpayer’s payroll but it would be a lot of paperwork. I’ve discussed it with him and he’s willing and available, and understands he’s not driving the strategy.

Helen’s legal skills are not required for the campaign. If I am re-elected I’ll need a replacement adviser, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Let me know your thoughts on both proposals.

Regards,

David L”

The slight on staff who “can’t punctuate” is likely to cause some embarrassment in Leyonhjelm’s Drummoyne office today. But it’s the suggestion on a replacement to handle social media — Humphreys — that is more intriguing. Handing Humphreys $5000 in cash — “ignore tax” — is curious wording, even for a confirmed libertarian like Leyonhjelm.

Crikey sent a spokesperson from Leyonhjelm’s office a copy of the email to confirm its accuracy, and the senator’s office did not deny the email was accurate. Instead, the spokesperson confirmed Dale and Leyonhjelm had parted ways:

“We can confirm Helen Dale has left her position in the office of Senator Leyonhjelm and we thank her for her contribution.”

When asked directly whether the comments in the email about paying Humphreys in cash were accurate, Crikey was given the following statement:

“It’s not appropriate to discuss private arrangements in the media, except to say we comply with all tax requirements.”

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

Liz
North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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