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Retired cops digging into donations made to the Liberal National Party


The Electoral Commission has extra manpower for its investigation and may yet refer allegations to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

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The LNP’s behind-the-scenes fundraising for a Noosa lunch and a dinner at Parliament House, where senior state and federal members mingled with business types, is being examined by the ECQ.

There have been allegations that property developers – who are banned from donating under Queensland laws – funnelled money to the LNP through a third-party person. It comes after the LNP admitted during the election campaign it had to work with the ECQ to ensure compliance.

CCC chairman Alan MacSporran told a recent parliamentary committee hearing he was satisfied with the ECQ’s ability to handle the “serious investigation”.

MacSporran said Electoral Commissioner Pat Vidgen was well across the issue and had told him the ECQ was using “retired police officers and other civilian investigators”.

But MacSporran foreshadowed the possible need for the CCC to also become involved, at least in an oversight role, should the evidence point to official misconduct or corruption.

The ECQ will neither confirm nor deny any compliance activities, let alone release details of its investigations. It is still involved in a court case aimed at determining whether Clive Palmer’s political activities also involved prohibited donors.

Meanwhile, MacSporran has backed a push for Queensland to introduce shield laws for journalists but cautioned that they only be used where there is an overriding public interest.

“That protection doesn’t protect them from not disclosing sources where it is in the public interest to disclose them,” MacSporran told the committee.

He suggested that was the case with Journalist F, who is fighting CCC efforts to reveal who provided a tip-off about an impending raid on the home of a murder suspect also the subject of a joint counter-terrorism investigation. The leak allowed for TV news coverage of the raid.

MacSporran warned that unauthorised publication of allegations and investigations had the potential to undermine law enforcement, allowing people to “destroy evidence, concoct evidence, get their heads together and stories aligned”.

Having failed to convince the government of the need for a ban on the publication of allegations being investigated by the CCC, MacSporran suggested it could still be a “shocking own goal” for journalists. He said the committee and Queenslanders in general should support the CCC’s stance.

“Don’t be confused about us trying to muzzle journalists, that’s not the purpose,” MacSporran said.

“We’re simply trying to protect our ability to investigate corrupt behaviour properly, and benefit the Queensland community, and the investigative journalists who uncover it, to deal with people who are corrupt.”

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman is consulting on possible shield laws for journalists.

Meanwhile, the Australian Electoral Commission is investigating Federal LNP MP Andrew Laming over more than 30 Facebook pages operated without political authorisation disclosures.

An Australian Electoral Commission spokesperson confirmed the Facebook activity would be investigated over the requirement for electoral authorisation designed to allow voters know who is communicating.

The Facebook pages include Redland Bay Bulletin, which has a similar name to local news site the Redland City Bulletin.

Laming is quitting politics at the next election after being accused of harassing two female constituents and taking a photo of a woman while she was bending over.

-with AAP

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