City of Sydney Liberal Councillor Shayne Mallard is facing calls to step down over claims he received illegal donations during a local government election.
In a speech given to Parliament last month, Greens MP Lee Rhiannon claimed Cr Mallard used a free CBD office space for his 2008 election campaign.
“The evidence about Mr Mallard’s possible free campaign office is serious enough to be investigated as he may have broken the law,” she said.
Ms Rhiannon said Cr Mallard used the William Street office space while working for Matrix Corporate Marketing.
If Cr Mallard used the office space for free it could therefore have been an in-kind donation.
In 2008, in-kind donations over $1,000 were banned for office space, vehicles, computers or other equipment. This included indirect contributions for office accommodation.
Ms Rhiannon said she had Sydney Liberal invoices for “tens of thousands of dollars in campaign expenses along with campaign material that were sent either to Andrew Kirk at 505/80 William Street, East Sydney, or to Sydney Liberals at 505/80 William Street” – the very same address as Matrix Corporate Marketing.
Andrew Kirk was the campaign manager for Cr Mallard’s campaign for Lord Mayor of Sydney and for the Liberal team running for Sydney Council.
Greens researcher Dr Norman Thompson said Cr Mallard used the office space while he worked as an Accounts Manager for Matrix Corporate Marketing.
According to the Matrix website, Shayne Mallard was indeed working at the company. “Shayne is Account Director with emphasis on communications and government relations,” read the ‘Our Team’ section of the site.
Again, on the ‘What’s New’ section which was published in 2007, Shayne Mallard is mentioned as an Account Director. “MATRIX Corporate Marketing has announced the recent appointment of Shayne Mallard and Rachel Eamsophana as Account Directors,” it reads.
Both of these links have been taken off the website but were accessed through a recruitment website zoominfo.com.
Cr Mallard denied ever working for Matrix when contacted by City News. “I have never been an ‘employee’ of Matrix,” he said. “My company sub leases space from Matrix and supplies services to Matrix and other clients. As to presenting me as an ‘Account Director’ this is merely for business optics.”
“There were no staff and it was not a public traditional style campaign office. It was my business desk and my computer.”
All expenses made during the 2008 election campaign were declared and the documents were on public record, Cr Mallard added.
“I paid for it as it was my own office space,” Cr Mallard said.
Dr Thompson said Cr Mallard’s explanation left many questions unanswered.
“Cr Mallard’s position at Matrix Corporate Marketing appears to be very complex,” he said. “He claims he isn’t an employee of the company, but he has a contract with Matrix. When he isn’t working for them he has use of the office for his own work.
“Several questions arise – what are the terms of his contract with Matrix? When he isn’t working for Matrix does he pay the company market rates for the space?”
The NSW Election Funding Authority has told The Greens it would investigate Ms Rhiannon’s complaint upon receiving all The Greens’ documentation.
“Mr Mallard should now do the right thing by the public and step down from his position on Council while the matter is being investigated,” Ms Rhiannon said.
This is the second time Cr Mallard has been accused of misconduct. In October he was investigated for breaching the Council’s code of conduct for debating and voting on a development application where he had received a large donation from the applicant.
Cr Mallard claimed it was an “inadvertent breach” and apologised to Council during a meeting.
by Ehssan Veiszadeh