NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet did not personally declare a donation from his former law firm, which has donated thousands of dollars to the NSW Liberals and receives significant government contracts.
Mr Perrottet did not declare a donation from his former employer Henry Davis York from March 2011. Henry Davis York has since merged with Norton Rose Fulbright.
Henry Davis York has donated more than $17,000 to the NSW Liberal Party since 2010 and was also one of the highest billing firms on the government’s payroll.
Mr Perrottet worked for Henry Davis York before entering parliament in the 2011 election.
Mr Perrottet said: “Donations are a matter for the NSW Liberal Party and I have always fulfilled my obligations in terms of disclosures.”
In a statement, Mr Perrottet’s office said Liberal Party policy was that no candidate or member could personally receive a donation. The 2011 donation was an “in-kind” donation for catering and a venue for a lunch.
The statement said the party was determining whether the donation was disclosed and if not, a disclosure would be submitted.
Last year there also an “in-kind” donation for a boardroom lunch, and in September, the Liberal Party made a declaration of all events for fundraising and it was disclosed, the statement said.
Speaking to Channel 10, Mr Perrottet said: “In-kind donations for catering should be disclosed as per the rules. If an oversight has occurred the Liberal Party will be disclosing that in due course.”
The most recent NSW Government Legal Services Panel annual report shows Henry Davis York was one of the “top three legal firms” in terms of billing in the areas of planning and environment law, as well as litigation.
Mr Perrottet said Henry Davis York was not on the “Treasury procurement panel and even if it were, I would have no influence. These matters are handled at a departmental level”.
The report also shows that Henry Davis York was not listed as doing any pro bono work in the last financial year, despite a requirement that mid-size to large-size firms with government contracts “undertake to their best endeavours” to meet the target of 35 hours pro bono work per lawyer each year.
A spokesman for the law firm said: “At the end of the 2017-18 financial year, Norton Rose Fulbright reported its pro bono hours per lawyer for the NSW Government Legal Services Panel annual report.
“Henry Davis York did do pro bono work that year but did not report as it ceased to operate in December 2017 when it combined with Norton Rose Fulbright.”
Labor’s Treasury spokesman Ryan Park said: “The failure to disclose a donation is an attempt to hoodwink and deceive the people of NSW who by law have a right to see who donates to their elected representatives.
“The NSW Treasurer must immediately explain why he seemingly failed to disclose a donation from his former employer who has won lucrative legal work,” he said. “At best this is sloppy paperwork from the person in charge of the country’s largest budget. At worst this is highly suspicious and deceptive behaviour.”
Alexandra Smith is the State Political Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.