‘I had a schnitzel and we had a conversation’
Chief Minister Michael Gunner has refused to disclose who attended a secret $5000-a-head Labor election fundraiser despite insisting the party has nothing to hide.
Mr Gunner flew to Melbourne to speak at an exclusive fundraising luncheon for Territory Labor at the ritzy Collins Quarter restaurant on Friday.
He revealed on Monday that "10 or a dozen" business people forked out $5000 to attend the event but refused to disclose who they were.
"The party is responsible for the invitations, the donations and the declarations and we will do all of that according to the law," he said.
"All of that will be publicly disclosed on the record in the first quarter next year."
A spokesman for the NT Electoral Commission said NT Labor may be required to disclose who purchased the tickets, depending on their value, and if their determined donation amount was more than $1500.
An invitation for the event, leaked to the NT News, showed Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was used as a lure for the event.
However, Mr Andrews ended up being a no-show.
He did not answer questions from the NT News as to why he pulled out.
Mr Andrews is battling a fundraising scandal of his own, with revelations he dined at similar events on at least two occasions with a Ferrari-driving developer at the centre of an anti-corruption probe.
Mr Gunner denied business guests at the luncheon would receive any preferential treatment with contracts or tenders.
"I had a schnitzel and we had a conversation - we basically talked about the NT economy," he said.
"All parties have to raise money, we're about to go into election season and there's going to be two elections next year now."
Mr Gunner also revealed that he originally planned to attend another fundraiser in Sydney on Monday night, charging $1400 a head, but pulled out.
"I made the decision over the weekend to come back to Darwin," he said.
"There has been a resignation and there's now going to be a by-election and there's important work that we need to do here around that.
"I honestly don't know what the invitation list was … I'm not sure what the membership of the unions were or were not guests."
The NT News first put questions to Mr Gunner's office on Friday about his whereabouts and why he flew out of Darwin so abruptly after parliament on Thursday night.
But his office only responded that Mr Gunner flew to Melbourne at personal expense for "meetings" and referred questions about a Labor fundraiser to the party.
"It was certainly not our intention to treat this in a secret way," Mr Gunner said.
"There seems to have been some confusion between how my office handled things and what the party secretary would answer and do. Obviously I did attend meetings in Melbourne and those questions were then referred to the party secretary to answer further.
"I understand there was a delay in him receiving those questions and answering."