Labor seeks inquiry into firm’s donations to Liberals despite financial trouble | Australia news


Labor has asked the corporate regulator to investigate a failed Queensland lobbying firm which donated to the Liberals while in financial turmoil.

Shac Communications, a Queensland-based lobbying and PR firm, was wound up by the federal court late last year following action by the tax office, which was reportedly owed $129,277.

The company’s previous iteration, Shac Pty Ltd, had previously been placed into liquidation in April 2013, after changing its name to Coolabird. It was eventually deregistered in November 2013.

Donation disclosure records show Shac Communications made a series of donations totalling $112,000 to the Queensland Liberal National Party in July, August and September 2013.

Lobbyist registers show the firm has acted for Leighton Contractors, casino proponents ASF Group, and Sunland, the Gold Coast property developer that Stuart Robert spoke in favour of in parliament in 2012.

The shadow assistant treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has written to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic) to urge it to investigate the collapse of Shac. Leigh asked Asic to investigate the donations made by the firm while it still owed creditors.

“Has the Australian Securities and Investments Commission looked at the financial records of either iteration of Shac Communications (or Coolabird), and in particular the prioritisation of payments to creditors (such as the tax office, suppliers, or employees) relative to other large payments made by the firm (including political donations)? If not, will it?,” he asked.

Leigh also asked Asic to investigate “whether large payments from Shac Communications (or Coolabird) in the lead up to either collapse may be in breach of directors’ duties or insolvent trading provisions of the Corporations Act?”

He told Guardian Australia the donations should be returned by the Liberal party, asking why the party should “get a donation before the firm pays its tax debts?”.

“How could any responsible owner make a six-figure political donation, then turn around and refuse to pay their tax bill?” he said.

The Gold Coast Bulletin has previously reported that donations were made to Stuart Robert’s fundraising vehicle, the Fadden Forum. Robert referred questions to the Queensland LNP.

The former head of Shac Communications was approached for a response. The LNP declined to respond.



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