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  • Geoff Handbury donates $150,000 to the Nationals in 2013-14

    2019 - 09.16

    FILE PICTHE owner of ACE Radio and the Weekly Advertiser donated $150,000 to the Nationals in the 2013-2014 financial year.

    Former Balmoral farmer and philanthropist Geoff Handbury made two donations to the Victorian branch of the party – one of $100,000 and one of $50,000.

    Mr Handbury said he decided to back the Nationals because of the performance of Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty and former Nationals leader Peter Ryan.

    ‘‘I found them very open about their beliefs and their beliefs for the future of Victoria,’’ he said.

    ‘‘I was a great admirer of Hugh Delahunty and Peter Ryan and that opinion made me keen on supporting their party.

    ‘‘They gave me the impression that the National Party was the party to back.’’

    The Australian Electoral Commission published donation disclosure forms for the last financial year on Monday.

    Mr Handbury said he did not have a problem with media proprietors donating to political parties.

    ‘‘If they own the newspaper and they’ve got a certain belief, they should get behind it and let the public know,’’ he said.

    ‘‘My father-in-law was Sir Keith Murdoch. He was one of the greatest journalists and media proprietors of the time.

    ‘‘I remember when I first met him and got to know him, he would always say ‘why does that paper sit on the fence, why don’t they get up and say what they believe in?’ That really stayed with me.’’

    Mr Handbury’s late wife Helen was media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s sister.

    Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said she did not receive any favourable treatment from Mr Handbury’s media outlets during the election campaign.

    ‘‘We paid for all of our political advertisements and they were all at normal rates,’’ she said.

    ‘‘There wasn’t any favouritism in terms of any media that I received during the campaign.’’

    She said she did not believe Mr Handbury influenced editorial decisions during the campaign.

    Mr Handbury also donated $20,000 to the Liberal Party in 2013-2014.

    In 2010-2011, Mr Handbury donated $30,000 to the Liberal Party and $20,000 to the Nationals.

    In 2009-2010 he donated $70,000 to the Liberal Party.

    ACE Radio broadcasts in the Wimmera through Mixx FM and 3WM.

    Mr Handbury said he did not have a rigid party bias, and while he was not a Labor supporter he was impressed by the new government’s commitment to the National Centre for Farmer Health, which he helped establish through donations.

    He said he loved giving his money away.

    ‘‘I’m in a position to give money away and I enjoy looking for the causes I want to back – it gives me great pleasure,’’ he said.

    ‘‘Most of the things I’ve backed – health, education and sport – where I’ve backed them I’ve had a personal reward for what I’ve done and just a lovely feeling of satisfaction.’’

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