February 26, 2019 14:39:34
The travel company at the centre of a string of federal political controversies is the major sponsor for a Victorian Liberal Party “coffee and chat” fundraiser to be held in Melbourne this weekend.
- The $20 “coffee and chat” event is with the Victorian Party president Robert Clark
- It is being sponsored by the Brighton franchise of Helloworld Travel
- The company was revealed to have not charged the federal Finance Minister for family flights
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann was under fire last week after it was revealed he had not been charged for family flights to Singapore, with the Senator also saying he called Helloworld Travel chief executive Andrew Burnes when he wanted to book flights.
Mr Burnes, the Liberal Party’s federal treasurer, was also linked to arranging a meeting for a then Helloworld executive with Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey.
On Saturday the Gardenvale branch in Melbourne’s bayside is hosting a $20 “coffee and chat” fundraiser with Victorian Liberal Party president Robert Clark.
The event is being sponsored by the Brighton franchise of Helloworld Travel.
The decision to keep Helloworld Travel as the sponsor of the event has raised the ire of some Liberal Party members who say it “is not a good look”.
The franchise has sponsored the coffee and chat event for some time and say the contribution is small and only “three figures”.
According to the flyer, Mr Clark will talk about the upcoming federal poll, “a little on last year’s state election and about the opportunities that lie ahead for our party, our state and our nation”.
Mr Clark has been contacted for comment.
Senator Cormann immediately paid for the flights when he learned his credit card had not been charged.
Mr Burnes has denied he told a former staffer “Hockey owes me” in arranging the meeting with Ambassador Hockey in Washington DC.
Liberal Party preselects in Mallee
While the focus over the weekend was on the preselection in blue riband Higgins to replace Cabinet Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, won by defeated state candidate Katie Allen, the party also picked barrister Serge Petrovich as its candidate in Mallee.
He has been involved in internal Liberal Party politics for some time as his wife Donna is a former state MP and federal candidate.
She was appointed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal late year, before the latest round of appointees for which Attorney-General Christian Porter has been accused of picking too many ex-Liberal MPs and figures.
Mallee is a three-cornered contest, with the seat being vacated by the Nationals’ Andrew Broad, who was embroiled in controversy last year over his use of a dating website to meet women overseas.
The Liberals on the weekend picked Mr Petrovich to run against the Nationals’ Anne Webster, a yet-to-be-announced Labor candidate and independent Ray Kingston, who has been buoyed by the victory of state independent Ali Cupper in Mildura at last year’s Victorian election.
Peta Credlin, formerly Tony Abbott’s chief of staff and now a high-profile pay TV political commentator, had been linked to a Liberal tilt at the seat.
With an election looming in May, the Liberal Party is yet to preselect candidates in all seats.