Property developer Richard Kong has donated $2.1m to the Liberal party over the past decade, a trend which has continued at a much higher rate than previous donations
In the past decade, Richard Kong, a wealthy developer and business leader from Sydney, has donated $2.1m to the Liberal party.
Kong, the founder of Pacific Multiplex, is one of Australia’s wealthiest developers and is a registered lobbyist. He is chairman of the Australia-Asia Council, and was a director of Heathrow Heathcare Limited from 1999 to 2001.
His gifts to the Liberals go back to 2006 when he gave $6m. That was when the party was holding the leadership of the John Howard government. He then donated $12m over the next six years.
The Australian reported in 2014 that Kong had given the government one in four land grants to higher education institutions in NSW over the preceding decade, and also had a lobbying role with several state government departments. The Australian said he was at a meeting in June 2008 when the government announced that all land grants for private companies would be publicly tendered.
The article also stated that a former employee of Henry Reynolds Group (HRG), Kong’s property development business, said at a hearing in 2007 he believed HRG had “limited obligations to the community”. HRG is now owned by Pacific Multi-Property.
Reynolds Group is responsible for the construction of several major projects in Australia, including the Sydney stadiums. It was bought by Pacific Multi-Property in 2012.
A spokeswoman for Pacific Multi-Property told Guardian Australia in response to the donation revelations: “The lease between Pacific Multi-Property and Hawkins Donors makes provision for them to retain their rights and any entitlements relating to that lease until 15 May 2019 or the closing date specified in the lease should both parties agree to make such adjustments in line with any customary circumstances.”
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However, Fairfax Media found that Donors’ Trust, a company owned by Hawkins Trust, is involved in contracting Pacific Multi-Property to oversee the tendering process.
In 2011, Pacific Multi-Property’s outspoken chief executive, Tony Lynch, met federal treasurer Joe Hockey and $6m in donations was pledged. However, it is unclear what did happen to the donations. Lynch eventually left the company in 2014 and was replaced by a colleague who was a member of the Liberal party, Mark Penni.
As recently as January, Hawkins Donors stopped processing donations to Pacific Multi-Property, according to the Australian.
Since April 2012, Pacific Multi-Property has donated $2.6m to the Liberal party, and continued to donate at a much higher rate than prior donations.
Of the $5.8m donated by Pacific Multi-Property, $2.1m was donated between October 2012 and April 2014, when the company’s chief executive left and was replaced by a colleague of Pacific Multi-Property who was a member of the Liberal party.
The company ceased to make donations in April 2014.
Pacific Multi-Property declined to comment on this story.
Last year, Labor raised concerns that donations from Pacific Multi-Property were coming from “legitimate taxpayers who are concerned about the management of our pension funds”. Pacific Multi-Property denies this claim.
Pacific Multi-Property’s contributions do not appear in the Senate’s register of donors.
A Liberal spokesman said: “Anyone making a political donation must ensure that the funds are in accordance with election finance laws and that they have always met their tax obligations. Any donation is examined rigorously by the party under the party’s compliance management system, which was developed in 2013.”