Stuart Robert’s Seniors Expo pays $300,000 in “fees” to the LNP
Exhibitors at a purported non-political Seniors Expo run by the then Assistant Treasurer were instructed to pay $300,000 of fees into the Liberal National Party’s campaign account.
The annual event, held since 2009, is the biggest senior’s expo in Australia and at various times was attended by several Liberal MPs, including Tony Abbott, Bronwyn Bishop and Mr Robert’s long-time Canberra flatmate Scott Morrison.
Electoral Commission records show private companies that exhibited at the expo, including funeral homes and eye and hearing clinics, each declared thousands of dollars in “donations’’ to the LNP in the weeks before and after the Gold Coast event.
Promotional material for the expo also touted stalls for government agencies, including Centrelink and the Australian Electoral Commission, although there is no evidence they were charged.
The expo was not billed as a political fundraiser.
According to The Australian, Mr Robert conceded he had instructed exhibitors to pay their fees into the LNP campaign account, which were declared as donations.
“Under electoral guidelines, we couldn’t set up a different account for the event so the money had to be paid into the LNP campaign account, and yes, they were declared as donations,’’ he said.
“We didn’t make any money, and none of the funds were ever used in campaigns because we had to meet the cost of the event, with anything left over … to be given to charity.’’ When asked how much was donated to charity, Mr Robert said each of the events “ran at a loss’’.