Reader Response - Liberal party games

I WRITE in response to the letter written by Liberal Party State President, Danielle Blain. In response to Joe Poprzeczny’s reference (State Scene, June 22) to the Liberal Party previously having a membership of 20,000, Mrs Blain’s reply that she and the state director “continue to be amazed at the mythical past 20,000 members, of which no real evidence can be found”, demonstrates an appalling ignorance of the facts. The membership figure during and following my period as state president was considerably more than 20,000 members, many of whom I personally signed up. Mrs Blain claims the Liberal Party “has considerable assets …but is not prepared to sell assets to pay for recurrent expenditure”. Other than its share portfolio, which is mortgaged to the hilt, the Liberal Party has no assets in which the head office of the party can deal. Perhaps Mrs Blain is now claiming effective ownership of the regional office properties purchased decades ago by a number of the quasi-autonomous electorate divisions of the party. The buildings were funded by the local members and almost entirely by the membership fees from the large and broadly based membership of past years; members Mrs Blain now claims never existed. Most properties were purchased under my presidency. The titles to the properties were placed in the name of the WA Liberal Party’s company on the explicit condition that the properties and the proceeds were to remain exclusively under the effective ownership and control of the electorate divisions which paid for and purchased them. It is a condition Mrs Blain well knows prevails to this day. It is disingenuous for Mrs Blain to claim these properties as real and practical assets to be placed against the party’s liabilities or that “the Party is not prepared to sell [these] assets to pay for recurrent expenditure”. In respect to its only real asset, a share portfolio, the party has borrowed $1 million from a benefactor who has a full charge over the portfolio. The same benefactor provides the party organisation with free office accommodation, without which its circumstances would be a great deal more dire. The state president’s claim of the substantial solvency of the Liberal Party is curious. This claim comes just months after unsuccessfully demanding of all Liberal parliamentarians, both state and federal, that they contribute $3,000 of their salary to prop up the ongoing financial needs of the Liberal organisation; an attempt which resulted in a revolt by the parliamentarians. Mrs Blain was also a principal in driving the Liberal parliamentary party to filch taxpayers’ money to fund the party because of the impecunious state of the party’s finances. It is disingenuous for her to claim that public funding is “not to assist in enabling the party to stay afloat”. As the party campaign chairman wrote to Liberal parliamentarian when briefing them on the legislation: • although the money will be provided after an election subject to expenditure reaching that level, in practical terms it will provide some basis of funding the party organisation in the post-election period; and • there needs to be an assurance that the money will be paid to parties and not to individual candidates, except in the case of Independents. In other words, the money raised from corporate donors to pay for the campaign will be matched to a level in excess of $1 million by taxpayers and the funds will be used to help the Liberal Party “stay afloat”. Finally, Mrs Blain’s claim that former state director, Paul Everingham, wanted to serve three to five years then return to the private sector sits uncomfortably with him having had a member of the prime minister’s office unsuccessfully lobby me for support for Mr Everingham to gain the federal seat of Tangney during his period as state director. By: Noel Crichton-Browne (Cottesloe).

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