By Danielle Kutchel
La Trobe MP Jason Wood has become embroiled in claims that he has breached ministerial standards by allegedly running a fundraiser for an associated entity of the Liberal Party out of his taxpayer-funded office.
The associated entity, which raises funds for the Liberal Party, is known as the Pinnacle Club..
The contact details given to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) for the Pinnacle Club, including its address and phone number, are those of Mr Wood’s office.
Additionally, a Parliament House email address is given as the contact for the financial controller.
The Ministerial Standards state that “ministers and their staff are provided with resources and facilities at public expense for the effective conduct of public business” – meaning activities such as fundraising could potentially breach the standards.
The standards also apply to junior ministers such as Mr Wood, who is assistant minister for customs.
On Wednesday 18 September, Labor targeted Mr Wood and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Question Time over whether this was a breach of the standards.
But Mr Wood has hit back in a statement provided to the Gazette.
“All my fundraising is in accordance with Australian Electoral Commission. Moreover, I have never had a fundraiser in office,” the assistant minister said.
“Labor MPs use office addresses for fundraising purposes. Labor hypocrisy is amazing! As I comply with rules, Labor accepts $100,000 in plastic bags.”
A spokesperson for Mr Wood’s office made similar allegations.
“This is a desperate stunt from Labor … who have done exactly the same thing in the way they list addresses for reporting as in the case of Alicia Payne, Terri Butler and even Graham Perrett when he was holding a fundraiser for Anthony Albanese.”
A number of links were provided to fundraising websites for each MP listed, where the MPs’ electorate office address or email was used.
The spokesperson added that Mr Wood’s office and expense management was within guidelines.
“Resources provided for contacting a Member or their staff, such as email addresses, PO boxes etc. can be listed as contact details where Parliamentarians or their staff are reporting to regulators such as the Australian Electoral Commission.
“It is not unusual for employees to provide their work contact details so that they can be reached during business hours for activities outside of their usual hours of work,” she said.
Cardinia Greens immediately seized on the information, declaring in a Facebook post that Mr Wood “has a lot to explain”.
The organisation has been contacted for further comment.