Australian PM reveals he gave A$1.75m to own campaign

Australian PM reveals he gave A$1.75m to own campaign

Australia's prime minister has revealed he donated A$1.75m (?1m; $1.3m) towards his re-election campaign in 2016.

Malcolm Turnbull, a former investment banker, made his contribution in the final weeks before the July poll.

His donation has been criticised by opposition Labor MPs, who said he "got out his wallet" to win the election.

But Mr Turnbull's colleagues have described it as "the purest donation of all" because there could be no suggestion of outside influence.

The prime minister disclosed the sum in a televised interview, ending recent speculation.


"I've always been prepared to put my money where my mouth is," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's A7.30 programme.

"I put my money into the Liberal Party's campaign."

Mr Turnbull was an investment banker, lawyer and an executive at Goldman Sachs before entering politics in 2004.

Australian PM reveals he gave A$1.75m to own campaign

Labor MP Jim Chalmers accused Mr Turnbull of effectively "buy[ing] his way out of trouble" before the election, which he won with a tight 76-seat majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives.

"He couldn't win an election on his merits so he got out his wallet," Mr Chalmers said.

"If he didn't have $1.75m to splash about he wouldn't be the leader of the Liberal Party and he wouldn't be the prime minister."

Labor's deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, suggested the money would have been spent on polished adverts and directly targeting voters.

Treasurer Scott Morrison, a senior Liberal Party member, described Mr Chalmers's comments as "a grubby political smear".

Another government frontbencher, Josh Frydenberg, argued Mr Turnbull's donation should be viewed as a positive.

"There is no inference of influence when a person makes a donation to their own campaign," he said.

In the television interview, Mr Turnbull criticised Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for calling him "Mr Harbourside Mansion".

Mr Turnbull and his wife, Lucy, own a home in Sydney on one of the world's most expensive streets. He also has access to the prime minister's official Sydney residence, Kirribilli House, which overlooks the city's harbour.

"I do live with Lucy in a nice house on the water in Sydney - and we paid for it," he said.

"Bill Shorten wants to live in a harbourside mansion for which every expense is paid for buy the taxpayer."

Asked why he did not release his contribution earlier, Mr Turnbull said: "I think Australians are more interested in what I am doing with their money than what I am doing with my own."

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said the major parties should each be criticised over political donations.

"People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and this is one hell of a big glass house," he said.

"The real issue has to be the lack of transparency, the opaqueness of our current donation disclosure laws, where we don't really know who's pulling the strings when it comes to making those big donations."



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