Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm has confirmed a “confidential” email leaked from his office to Crikey about plans to replace staffer Helen Dale with the party’s founder, John Humphreys, during the election and pay him in cash to “ignore tax etc“.
Crikey first revealed yesterday that Dale had quit the libertarian Senator’s office last week. In the email Leyonhjelm said she had balked at “being subjected to oversight over Facebook stuff”.
After publication, Dale confirmed on Twitter she had left Leyonhjelm’s office and indicated it was due to Facebook “shitposting” and that she had to explain what dank memes were. Many political parties and organisations this election are using memes as part of their election advertising — most notably the AMWU’s Twitter account is gushing with an endless supply of dank memes.
In his email, Leyonhjelm noted that he believed Dale would have left after the election anyway:
“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.”
On ABC’s RN Drive program yesterday afternoon, Leyonhjelm confirmed that Dale had left his office, but suggested it was more to do with her dislike of election campaigning rather than anything to do with social media:
“She didn’t like the campaign. She quite liked some of the issues that she dealt with when she was working with me in Parliament House, but election campaigns are not for everyone.”
Leyonhjelm says it wasn’t his doing, and said it wasn’t fair to Dale or his other staff to discuss her departure.
In seeking to replace Dale, Leyonhjelm suggested in the email paying Humphreys for social media posting during the election campaign for $5000 in cash, stating he would “ignore tax etc”. Leyonhjelm told the ABC that the suggestion made in the “confidential email” was above board:
“There’s nothing illegal about it. The party is at liberty to engage contractors and pay them, and provided they have an ABN, it’s the responsibility of the contractor to deal with their tax issues. That was a confidential email, by the way … it was referring to the fact that the party won’t need to go through the process of putting Mr Humphreys on as an employee.”
Leyonhjelm said his plan was to still hire Humphreys on a contract for the election campaign. Leyonhjelm is confident that with the double dissolution called, several LDP senators could be elected. This is based on the lower percentage vote required to win a Senate seat, and Leyonhjelm securing 9.5% of the vote in the 2013 election — though as he was in the top spot on the NSW Senate ballot paper, some voters might have been confused for the Liberal Party. “This double dissolution has turned out to be a gift for parties like ours,” Leyonhjelm told RN.