Opposition finance spokesman Jim Chalmers has accused the prime minister of buying himself an election.
“It stinks. Malcolm Turnbull had to buy his way out of trouble,” he told ABC radio today.
“If Malcolm Turnbull didn’t have $1.75 million to splash about he wouldn’t be the leader of the Liberal Party and he wouldn’t be the prime minister.”
Treasurer Scott Morrison hit back, describing Turnbull and his wife Lucy as generous and humble contributors to many great causes.
“That’s a grubby political smear from a grubby political hack in a party of hacks led by Bill Shorten,” he said of Chalmer’s attack.
Cabinet colleague Josh Frydenberg insisted Turnbull had stuck by the rules, arguing there can’t be any inference of influence when a person makes a donation to their own campaign.
“In fact, it is the purest donation of all,” he told ABC TV.
“The same can’t be said about Bill Shorten and the Labor Party and the big donations they receive from the unions.”
It took a royal commission to find out Shorten had received a $40,000 donation to his campaign back in 2007, Frydenberg said.
After dodging questions about the donation earlier on Wednesday, the prime minister later confirmed his contribution and that it was made this financial year – too late for Australian Electoral Commission latest disclosures.
“I contributed $1.75 million. That was the contribution I made. It has been talked about and speculated about but there it is,” he told the ABC’s 7.30 program.
“I’ve always been prepared to put my money where my mouth is.”
Australians were more interested in what he was doing with their money than with his own, Turnbull argued.
Crossbench senator Nick Xenophon argues both major parties were as bad as each other when it comes to political donations.
“People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and this is one hell of a big glass house,” he said.
Xenophon believes there needs to be real-time disclosure of donations to overcome a lack of transparency.
Former Liberal Party federal treasurer Michael Yabsley said the situation nowadays showed the Americanisation of Australian politics.
“The donations that are received are really the grease that makes the wheels turn and I think it is unhealthy,” he said.
Yabsley wants donations capped at $500.
Turnbull told the National Press Club yesterday he backed a ban on foreign donations and favoured more timely declarations of political donations.
A parliamentary committee is investigating both.
Labor wants to reduce the disclosure threshold from $13,200 to $1000.
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