So at the 2015 NSW election last Saturday, out of the blue, in poll position on the ballot paper appears this No Land Tax Party. Not surprisingly, they attracted the donkey votes.
Where did they come from? ‘No Land Tax‘ is a catchy slogan and would lure many voters disaffected with the major parties. ‘No Tax’ or ‘Free Beer’ would perhaps work better.
According to its website, the campaign of the No Land Tax Party is to abolish Land Tax in New South Wales. So on the surface a single issue no frills party. According to the party’s website, land tax is currently paid by over 150,000 property “investors” across the state. That would have to be mainly in inner Sydney – the CBDs, harbourside, eastern suburbs and the north shore – i.e. the expensive areas.
But the only people who can afford to be property investors are the wealthy. Most ordinary Australians are either struggling to pay off mortgages on their own homes or indeed can’t afford to buy a home and have to pay rents. Home ownership in Sydney has become an unaffordable dream to most locals because of unchecked Asian property demand over-inflating house prices.
So the No Land Tax Party must be appealing to wealthy individuals and property investors which would also be corporations and foreigners. Such a demographic vote Liberal. But is it. These four don’t look too well off.
The No Land Tax Party deceptive scam – Ordinary Australians paying Land Tax?
No try corporate property developers.
The polls predicted Baird’s Liberals to the win the lower house in the NSW 2015 election comfortably with National Party coalition support. But critically, it is the upper house results that will enable Baird to pass his electricity privatisation and not get stymied by intransigent upper house cross-benchers like PM Tony Abbott is up against in Canberra.
The NSW upper house has an optional preferential system. Preferences only flow if voters themselves mark the box. A quota, or 4.55 per cent of the total state vote, is needed to gain a seat in the 42-seat Legislative Council. Most voters in NSW tend not to allocate preferences, which “exhausts” the vote. This means the final one or two seats can be gained on less than a full quota.
This is where the No Land Tax Party comes in. It is a Liberal Party invented platform for NSW property developers. Since ICAC exposed developer donation corruption linked to Labor and Liberal politicians, developer donations to political parties in NSW has been banned since 2009 under Labor Premier Nathan Rees.
So if Sydney’s close-knit brotherhood of millionaire property developers can’t bribe Liberal of Labor to get their development approvals, they can instead fund their own party. It’s a reactive developer donations Plan B. All it took was money and plonking some politically savvy heavy and lure lots of puppets. Glenn Druery were you benind this?
Let’s call it the No Land Tax Party and fund all campaigns, 92 candidates, fliers the lot. Property developer Tony Merhi would not be unhappy with the arrangement after being stung by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) “donating” $89,500 on development applications to the Hills Shire Council from February 2007 until around the time of Sydney’s local government elections in September 2008. This especially when one has $1 billion worth of projects in the pipeline. Generous political donations become a healthy return on investment, so it is wise to have a standby slush fund.
But after political donations to NSW branches of parties were made illegal in 2009, companies linked to the prominent developer began funnelling money federally, donating at least $61,500 to the Liberal Party of Australia between July 2010 and August 2013.
Former NSW Liberal energy minister Chris Hartcher, would not be unhappy with the arrangement, after his co-operation with Gazcorp property developer Nabil Gazal in the lead up to the 2011 NSW election. Gazcorp is headed by the Gazal family and was behind the Orange Grove shopping centre, which was approved when the Liberals took power. Gazcorp had one of the alleged slush funds, Eightbyfive, on a monthly $10,000 retainer. Mr Gazal told the ICAC last year he understood the payments were being made for strategic political advice from Eightbyfive founder Tim Koelma on “how to get Orange Grove back”. Then there is Nathan Tinkler’s Buildev and Liberal Party fundraiser John Caputo, etc.
The No Land Tax Party preferenced the Liberals in the upper house. No Land Tax got the crucial “donkey vote” position on the ballot paper, which could deliver Mr Jones a seat in Parliament and potentially the balance of power in the upper house. Baird can then get his privatisation plans (and other promises) through the upper house with the No Land Tax Party support. Done deal! Mr Jones told The Australian newspaper the day before the election that he was “quietly confident” of picking up the final seat in NSW’s upper house, but said he would be directing preferences to the Liberal Party.
The election result was 75,000 odd primary votes to the No Land Tax Party.
But we think the No Land Tax Party is not just about land tax. It has other scheming intent. Property developers don’t like paying Land tax. So this is their cobbled party in cahoots with key connected Liberals with whom they donate handsomely to. Property valuer James Ruben joined the party three months ago and became president.
Strategically, Party secretary, Peter Jones, a politically savvy ex-Union heavy has set up an office in working class Penrith, in outer western Sydney. Well, consider the lucrative greenfield property development gains for the taking around Badgerys Creek and along the West Connex route. See!
Jones has become the lead candidate for the party. So a lefty has attracted Liberal property investors to vote for him. He has form. In 2003 and 2007, Jones was accused of manipulating Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union elections. He is subject of an apprehended violence order taken out by Police on behalf of Communications Union boss Jim Metcher. Jones has previously been banned from being a club director by the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing following an investigation by regulators of the Brighton-Le-Sands Amateur Fishermen’s Association, which was forced to shut its doors.
Jones has been bizarrely peppering individual Liberals, including the Police Minister Stuart Ayres and state Liberal Party boss Tony Nutt, with obscene text messages about preference deals. Once a Union heavy…
Mr Jones claims he has struck personal deals with Liberal candidates in four seats – Port Stephens, Gosford, Prospect and John Sidoti in Drummoyne where Liberal volunteers would assist No Land Tax in handing out on the day and feeding volunteers. Otherwise party candidates include a bikini model, two salsa dancers, and others who live several hours’ drive from their nominated electorate.
Another colourful character leading the No Land Tax Party is Italian property developer of Five Dock on Sydney Harbour, Pat Carbone. Up until two weeks ago, Pat Carbone, was a member of the Labor Party. His brother Frank Carbone is the Labor Mayor of Fairfield council in Sydney’s west. Fairfield Council is pure ethnic and is notoriously run by the familia. Two years ago in 2013, Peter Jones and Pat Carbone were involved in a brawl at the Calabria Community Club. A battle for control of the club, which benefited from a $200 million rezoning proposal that led to the value of its land increasing tenfold, reached the NSW Supreme Court.
Just weeks ago, Pat Carbone tried to sack the party’s number three candidate Gus Macri, because he Macri wouldn’t pay up $25,000 in donations.
There’s a TV mini series in all this.
The Liberals are clearly politically active in Penrith behind the scenes in various guises. The political deal sounds like something the Liberals would conjure up. Recall the Lindsay Pamphlet Scandal, also in Penrith.
Back on 21 November 2007, three days before the federal election, Kelly’s husband Gary Clark was caught with four other people in the electorate of Lindsay handing out fake pamphlets purporting to be from an Islamic group (which did not exist), and thanking the Labor Party for supporting terrorists.
The Liberals have recently adopted Labor’s mantra: ‘whatever it takes’
But is not just the Libs. Ex-Liberal Jackie Kelly ran in Penrith as an independent preferencing Labor.
In 2009, former Labor Electorate Officer, Timothy Horan, working in Penrith for Labor MP Karyn Paluzzano, whistleblew about Paluzzano falsely signing employee pay forms and using her electoral mail allowance for political purposes. Both Horan and Paluzzano were foudn to be corrupt by ICAC. In 2014, Horan as Labor’s NSW state director was running around New South Wales as campaign director drumming up new members and soliciting donations.
So why did the Party secretary set up office at Level 1, 331 High Street Penrith? Of the 150,000 property investors in New South Wales paying Land Tax, how many are voters in working class Penrith? Bugger all? The average median house price for Penrith council suburbs is just over $540,000. But Land Tax does not apply to one’s own home. Principal residences are exampted from land tax in New South Wales.
Land tax currently kicks in on investment properties valued at $432,000. For investment properties values at 2.641 million and above an additional premium land tax applies. See the current schedule below. There are not too many of those in Penrith, so the No Land Tax Party campaign smells dodgy.
So if you’re a property developer and you own a $2.641 million investment property in Sydney (there are thousands), a donation of up to $35,444 to the No Tax Party will put you financially ahead should they abolish the tax.
So the No Land Tax Party got the poll donkey position on the upper house ballot paper. Lucky.
It also managed to run candidates in every lower house seat – some 93 candidates. That is no mean feat! So who’s backing this pop up party and how have they managed so many candidates so quickly? Other minor parties are only running a handful. Australia First Party managed three candidates.
It appears these candidates are mostly from the same group of families (property investors and real estate agents), and only a few actually live in the electorates where they are running. The party says it recruited candidates from NSW real estate agents.
And where has all the campaign funding money come from? Reportedly, the No Land Tax Campaign has raised funds in “the six figures”, to bankroll its comprehensive campaign. Yet donations disclosures list just $13,000 received by the party this year, and less than $20,000 in donations last year. This includes real estate agents such as Ray White, Century 21, L J Hooker, the Property Owners Association of NSW, the Real Estate Institute of NSW, the Property Council of Australia and high net worth individuals owning property investments. Donations disclosures lodged by No Land Tax Party reveal one $6000 donation from Ray White.
Is it coincidental that Liberal voting billionaire gaming mogul, James Packer, has secured a cosy deal with the Liberal Government for his Barangaroo casino resort and residential towers complex and in 2013 funded Penrith Panthers $10 million to build a Crown training facility?
Now it is revealed that all the election day workers hired by the No Land Tax Party to distribute how-to-vote cards, may not be paid as promised. No Land Tax had 4.3 million how-to-vote cards printed ready to distribute and will have volunteers handing out at 1200 polling booths. But few of the party’s Hunter candidates have ever set foot in the electorates they contested. In the Hunter Valley, all lived outside of the Hunter, including Newcastle candidate Jasmin Addison, a salsa dancer from Sydney who still managed to secure 599 primary votes in Saturday’s poll. Serious donkey voting or was it illegal how-to vote spruiking?
Carbone was recruiting members of the No Land Tax party at markets and shopping centres at least a year ago, while being a member of the Labor Party.
Russian-born bikini model Anastasia Bakss has no political background but she does have a useful 17,200 Instagram followers and has been posting instructions on how to vote for the party in between her regular workout selfies.
The party’s candidate for Bega, Clyde Robert Archard, has not been sighted in the electorate so far this campaign, prompting the Bega District News to observe that the only Clyde Robert Archard on record in NSW was a prisoner of war who died in Borneo in 1945, while another Clyde Archard is listed on LinkedIn as a Sydney chef.
Mr Jones admits most candidates were recruited online and he has met only a few.
No Land Tax Party – HTV volunteers thanks for nothing!
The party has signed up naive university students to hand out “how to vote” (HTV) cards but none has been asked for their tax file number or bank details and therefore can’t be paid.
Since Saturday’s election, yellow-shirted workers for the No Land Tax Party say they are now worried about not being paid. Up to $1 million in wages owed to thousands of its election-day staff. Its lead candidate, Peter Jones, says up to 3000 people handed out how-to-vote cards. Workers were promised they would be paid $30 an hour to man polling booths, wearing the party’s yellow T-shirts and handing out party material on election day from 8am to 6pm without a break.
Here was the scam:
“…Sorry for the delay in getting this email to you, but we’ve been experiencing a few administrative difficulties.
Thank you for registering your interest to work on Election Day – TOMORROW – SATURDAY 28 MARCH 2015.
YOUR APPLICATION HAS BEEN ACCEPTED:
We would like you to work at the following polling booth:
xxxxx xxxxx Centre
You are required to turn up no later than 7:30am. You will be paid from 7am to cover your travelling time.
You will need to work until 6pm. You are entitled to a paid one hour break – which may be split up into smaller breaks.
PLEASE SELECT ONE OF THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS:
YES, LOCK ME IN
NO, I CAN NO LONGER WORK ON ELECTION DAY
Please make your selection ASAP. Please respond – even if you have already done so.
Please email us at email@example.com if you have NOT yet received a parcel containing your how-to-vote flyers.
ABOUT YOUR PAY AND BONUS:
On Monday (30 March) you will receive an email from us:
Confirming whether or not you have achieved a bonus.
Requesting your Tax File Number (TFN).
Asking whether you wished to be paid by bank transfer or cheque.
You will be paid in full (less tax) no later than FRIDAY 10 APRIL 2015. Although we will use our best endeavours to pay you BEFORE EASTER.
HOW TO CONTACT US:
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For urgent enquiries please call me directly on 0406 312 681.
WE WILL EMAIL YOU FINAL INSTRUCTIONS TOMORROW (FRIDAY) AFTERNOON.
Yet worker, Kristal Young, like many of the thousands of others in yellow vests who handed out for the party at polling booths across NSW on Saturday, responded to a flyer in the mail about a month out from the election. She was promised $330 for the day and a generous bonus if the party’s vote topped 5 or 10 per cent.
But Ms Young, from Sydney’s northern beaches, has not yet been paid and is beginning to fear she won’t be.
“It’s all been very faceless,” she said. “I haven’t spoken to a single person. It’s weird.”
And according to electionwork.com.au, there were also bonuses promised by the party based on the amount of votes the candidate gets: “If the local candidate you are handing out for gets 10% of the vote at your polling booth, you will receive a $200 bonus.”
It gets worse.
Party secretary, Peter Jones, has come under more fire after he responded to unpaid booth workers complaints, with a bizarre and threatening email stating:
‘‘If you threaten, harass or defame us you will not be paid – ever. We’d just love to meet you in court.’’
Sounds like something Glenn Druery would say. Speaking of whom, Peter Jones has admitted consulting with “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery, to run candidates in all 93 lower house seats and fielding 16 upper house candidates to increase its chances of attracting enough votes to recoup the money it has spent campaigning, and then some. The party used the $7 received per vote from the NSW Electoral Commission as the basis for paying “volunteers” $330 a day. If a volunteer’s local No Land Tax candidate gets 10 per cent of the vote, they earn a $200 bonus, or $500 for 20 per cent of the vote.
Scam or what?
The email threatened those who complained to media or election authorities.
‘‘We will pay people who are polite first,’’ it read. ‘‘We will pay people who are rude or obnoxious last. We have feelings, too.’’ ~ Peter Jones, secretary of the No Land Tax campaign.
Jones told workers he was too busy taking calls, so encouraged them to text message him with their concerns. He suggested they contact Fair Work Australia.
The party has so far secured about 1.8 per cent of the vote in the upper house, or about 3 per cent less than it had hoped for. It is still in contention for the final seat in the legislative council but below the threshold of 4 per cent at which parties qualify for public funding of about $7 per vote. The party has said only workers’ bonuses will be affected by a failure to claim public funding.
Since the election, party infighting has already erupted. One of its senior candidates, Gus Macri, attacked leader, Peter Jones, branding him an “embarrassment” for making policy on the run, being unconsultative, accusing Jones of “hijacking” the party, failing to pay volunteers, having no interest in land tax.
Typical of a single issue party, the No Land Tax Party has never discussed and has no official policy on law and order, education, transport and other important issues.
The No Land Tax Party is a fabricated scam. But who is to police it? The system works in favour of the major parties.
In December 2014, ICAC identified many deficiencies in how election funding is managed in New South Wales and made 22 recommendations. These have been ignored by Mike Baird. The electoral system has just delivered him government. Why would he want to change it?