THE Victorian division of the Liberal Party paid “all costs” associated with the attendance of former British prime minister Theresa May at a fundraising lunch at Moonah Links, Fingal, according to the party’s Hastings candidate Briony Hutton.
Ms Hutton said Ms May (Lady May) was “interested in coming to the Mornington Peninsula where we have endorsed female Liberal candidates” as part of an event-intensive, multi-state five-day visit to Australia.
The Australian Electoral Commission is investigating questions raised by Labor Senator Don Farrell as to whether money raised at events featuring Ms May are subject to a ban on foreign donations introduced in 2019 by the Morrison government (“Inquiry by AEC over Liberals May Meal” The News 2/3/22).
Ms Hutton has told The News that about 50 people attended the $500 a head Sunday 13 February lunch at the Peppers Moonah Links Resort “hosted by the Peninsula Liberals”.
“Mrs May’s visit was organised by the Victorian division of the Liberal Party,” Ms Hutton said.
“Mrs May was interested in coming to the Mornington Peninsula where we have endorsed female Liberal candidates.
“Liberal candidate for Flinders, Zoe McKenzie, and Liberal candidate for Hastings, Briony Hutton, welcomed Mrs May to the peninsula on behalf of the Peninsula Liberals.”
In an earlier post on Facebook, Ms Hutton said it had been “an honour to host” Ms May.
“Mrs May came to show her support of Liberal Party candidates on the Mornington Peninsula as we head into the federal and state elections this year,” she stated.
Senator Farrell has asked the AEC to “carefully consider the disclosure obligation that falls on the Liberal Party for the declaration of an in-kind donation by Ms May if there is a gap between fees paid by Ms May and Ms May’s standard speaking fee” if it finds “the arrangement between the Liberal Party and Ms May is not inconsistent with the foreign donation ban”,
AEC Commissioner Tom Rogers has told the Senate’s Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee that the issue was being examined and the Liberal Party had been contacted.
Publicity and bookings for the lunch with Ms May were organised by the Nepean Liberals.
As well as endorsing Ms Hutton and Ms McKenzie, the Liberal party has chosen Sam Groth as its candidate for the state seat of Nepean and Chris Crewther for the state seat of Mornington.