DAN’S DOUBLE BOGEY
DODGY DEVELOPER DONATED $2500 TO ANDREWS PREMIER’S BIG GOLF DAY WAS MILLIONAIRE’S IDEA
DANIEL Andrews took $2500 from a developer embroiled in a corruption scandal, while it can be revealed a Premier’s charity golf day was the brainchild of the embattled tycoon.
Three days after the Herald Sun reported that Mr Andrews had dined with Ferrari-driving developer John Woodman at the upmarket Flower Drum restaurant, the Premier fronted reporters yesterday to confirm he received the donation from the developer for his 2002 Mulgrave campaign.
And his office confirmed the 2017 Premier’s Charity Golf Day — which the Flower Drum lunch was set up to discuss — was multi-millionaire Mr Woodman’s idea.
Mr Andrews put his name to the event and handed out a trophy as more than $400,000 was raised for the Monash Children’s Hospital.
The Premier’s attendance at the golf day also came after he had become aware that Mr Woodman was working as a property lobbyist for alleged mafia figure Tony Madafferi. At the time, Mr Andrews and his colleagues were attacking the credibility of then-Liberal leader Matthew Guy over his “lobster with a mobster” dinner in Melbourne’s bayside with Mr Madafferi.
The golf day revelation has raised questions about the closeness of Mr Andrews’s relationship with Mr Woodman, who is at the centre of an ongoing Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission inquiry into planning corruption.
IBAC has heard Mr Woodman donated almost $160,000 to Labor candidates at last year’s state election.
The Premier’s office also confirmed last night that the Flower Drum lunch in September 2017 was one of three functions Mr Andrews attended at the restaurant with Mr Woodman (above).
“He has never raised active planning matters with me — if he had I would have stood up and left,” Mr Andrews said. “We discussed, principally, a charity golf day that he was very keen to put on.”
Mr Andrews added: “He had been very keen to run that golf day for quite some time.”
Asked if he knew Mr Woodman was representing Mr Madafferi at the time, Mr Andrews said he became aware “not long after that meeting” in September 2017, two months before the charity golf day.
“I have not been too concerned about his client list or those sorts of issues because of course, I have not been someone who has sat down and talked to him about active planning matters,” he said.
Mr Andrews said he had never met with Mr Madafferi — who has previously strenuously denied being a mafia figure and has never been charged with an offence. But the Premier has conceded he visited Mr Madafferi’s fruit shop, located in his electorate in Melbourne’s southeast.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the Premier had not explained why he maintained contact with Mr Woodman, even after his associations were made public.
“Daniel Andrews needs to explain why he was having dumplings with a developer who was acting for an alleged mafia boss,” he said.
Mr Andrews said the $2500 donation in 2002 was properly disclosed by Labor, along with others to MPs including a donation to Deputy Premier James Merlino before the 2018 election.
He said his government had strengthened political donation laws and would consider separate reforms for donations to local councillors after the IBAC probe ends.
The inquiry heard yesterday that Casey councillor Geoff Ablett — accused of receiving $330,000 from Mr Woodman — promoted the developer’s interests in conversations with councillors — despite the former mayor saying on Monday that doing so “would be corrupt”. Texts showed that, while declaring a conflict of interest, Cr Ablett “coached” Cr Sam Aziz on how to handle a 2018 vote on a Cranbourne intersection the tycoon had an interest in.
Commissioner Robert Redlich described the exchange as “the most flagrant abuse of the conflict situation that you were in”.