Ross Rolfe.
Ross Rolfe.

LNP donation link to NAIF board

HALF the federal government-appointed board of the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility is linked to LNP donations, including the most recent member whose company made a four-figure donation two months before he was appointed.

An expert in political ethics warned the situation raised "genuine suspicions", but made no claim of wrongdoing.

Ross Rolfe, who was director-general under then Labor premier Peter Beattie, was appointed to the NAIF board in July last year, two months after his company Infigen made a $4800 donation on May 15, 2018.

The company, of which he is CEO, managing director and a board member, also made a $9600 donation on June 5, 2017.

He is the third person on the six-member board to be linked to political donations.

Electoral Commission Queensland records show NAIF board member Karla Way-McPhail has made multiple donations to the LNP since April 2017, totalling more than $11,000, and Barry Coulter, a former Country Liberal Party member, donated $5000 to the CLP on August 11, 2016 after his appointment to the board.

A NAIF spokesman said board appointments were a matter for the Minister, but directors were aware of their obligations about conflicts of interest.

Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said the appointments were based on the knowledge and experience of the candidates.

"I was unaware that Infigen had made any donations to the LNP," he said.

QUT School of Justice associate professor Mark Lauchs said the appointments raised issues of public perception.

"I'm not going to claim that there's any wrongdoing, but that does raise a genuine suspicion that something needs to be looked at," he said.

"They have to make appointments in a way so that we have confidence in the system, not so that they have confidence."

Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan. Picture: AAP/Kelly Barnes
Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan. Picture: AAP/Kelly Barnes

Ms Way-McPhail said representatives of her company The Real Group attended functions arranged by both political parties to ensure they were well informed on political policy.

ECQ records show only donations above the threshold made by Ms Way-McPhail to the LNP.

"As an employer in the region, we ensure we represent our entire organisation with the intent of being well informed and contributing to the democratic political debate," she said.

It is understood Infigen also attends functions for both political parties across the country, but ECQ and Australian Electoral Commission records showed no donations to Labor in recent years.