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Coalition steps up campaign on donors

A company seeking approval from the state government for a $350 million wind farm failed to declare a donation to NSW Labor, prompting the opposition to step up calls for donations from corporations to be banned.

Transfield Services did not disclose its $1045 payment to attend the budget dinner of the Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, in June when it lodged its part 3a application to the Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, for a wind farm in Collector.

In trying to make up lost ground in the donations debate, the shadow special minister of state, Chris Hartcher, criticised the government for considering a project application from a political donor.

”How can the public have confidence in the Labor government when they are still handing over part 3 applications from Labor Party donors to the Labor planning minister for his personal approval,” Mr Hartcher said.

The company amended its planning application after being contacted by the Herald.

”Transfield Services has today notified the NSW Department of Planning that required information in relation to political donations was not included in its original submission, and is correcting its submission. Thank you for highlighting the error to us,” a spokesman for the company said last week.

Mr Hartcher said a coalition government would restrict donations to individuals on the electoral roll.

The state government has managed to overhaul political donations and spending in NSW by striking an alliance with the Greens to push through reforms in time for next year’s election.

The deal isolated the opposition, which has accused Ms Keneally of caving in to unions by including a provision that allows unions to spend up to $1.05 million each during an election campaign.

The Greens added further pressure by the pushing through an amendment banning political donations from tobacco companies that targeted the Coalition’s policy of accepting tobacco company donations, which total $607,000 since the 2003 election. The opposition responded by proposing a ban on corporations.

Yesterday the Premier demanded that the opposition reveal its funding for its new advertising campaign, which was launched at the weekend to mark 100 days until the state election.

The opposition’s campaign will run on television, radio and in newspapers for two weeks and will heavily target the Hunter and central coast, where the Coalition could win as many as four or five seats.

”Sydney media report that for the last three weeks, the NSW Liberals have been holding $10,000-a-head Point Piper-style fund-raisers to collect donations before new laws are introduced,” Ms Keneally said.

”This is completely unacceptable and against the spirit of the new donation laws. I am issuing a direct challenge to Barry O’Farrell to provide full documentation behind the advertising campaign.”