Labor MP breaches election donation, Esperance

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A $1000 campaign donation made to a recently elected Esperance Shire councillor has attracted attention for breaching Local Government Elections Regulations.

According to legislation in the regulations, both parties must disclose to the chief executive officer any gift of more than $200 within three days of the transaction. 

Breaching these regulations can result in a penalty of $5000.

Member for Agricultural Region Darren West made the donation to Dale Piercy but it was not disclosed until about six days after it was received.

Mr West said he was unaware of the three day disclosure period and that it was a “rookie error.”

“I didn’t realise that donors had to make declarations, that came in in 2009,” he said.

“I was unaware of that and I thought all donations needed to be declared three days after the election, similar to how they are in state and federal elections.

“We just got some bad advice that was wrong, and once we got the right advice both the candidate and I made the declaration. There was never an attempt to conceal the donations.”

Mr West said he also donated to a couple of candidates in Geraldton and became aware of the breach after one of them found the information in their candidate package.

He said donors did not get access to the information pack.

“It was really a rookie error on my part, I don’t actually refer to the piece of legislation every time I do something, I don’t think most people do,” he said.

Mr West said he chose to “stay out” of elections in terms of public support, instead donating to select candidates to cover some of the cost of campaigning. 

“I’ve known Dale Piercey for 20 years, I think she’ll make a fantastic member of the council.”

Mr West said he wasn’t worried moving forward and that he would explain the situation to any investigation into the matter.

“There’s no threat to my standing in the parliament or eligibility in the parliament, it’s just a fine is the maximum penalty,” he said. 

Ms Piercey said she wasn’t aware the money had gone into her account on Friday, October 13, until she checked her balance the following Monday night.

The new councillor said she confirmed the transaction was from Darren West the following day before submitting the disclosure form to the shire on Wednesday, October 18.

“Two days from Monday night til Wednesday. I don’t see that there was any problem really,” she said.

The Department of Local Government was contacted for response but said it would be inappropriate to comment on any complaints they received.