Integrity questions raised after D’Ath fundraiser at Star

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Star?s Queensland monopoly up in the air

A former Queensland attorney-general has fuelled integrity questions about gaming giant Star Entertainment Group paying for a fundraiser at its casino for Labor’s current top law office, Yvette D’Ath – before the last election.

The Australian reports the former Beattie government minister Rod Welford said last Thursday that he would never have accepted any “gift in kind” from Star Entertainment and had no idea the gaming giant was paying for the 2017 fundraiser when he attended the event.

Mr Welford was among four former state Labor attorneys-general who sat on a panel, adjudicated by Ms D’Ath, at the $125-a-head fundraiser held in a private dining room at the Star’s Treasury Hotel, which is part of its casino licence in Brisbane’s CBD.

Star Entertainment paid for $4000 in food and alcohol at the event and has two casinos in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, regulated by Ms D’Ath.

Ms D’Ath, who received thousands of dollars for her campaign from the fundraiser, will next week introduce new donation laws after saying last month she wanted to stop business “buying” influence in politics.

Among former A-Gs on the panel was Paul Lucas, who is married to Star Group executive external affairs director Alison Smith.

Fellow panel member Matt Foley, also a former Queensland Labor attorney-general, was also unaware the event was being paid for by Star Entertainment.

Asked whether he would have accepted Star paying for a fundraiser while he was attorney-general, Mr Welford said: “No…I didn’t accept those sorts of donations from anyone.”

He said he refused any “corporate gifts-in-kind” while in politics and accepted only one night’s accommodation at the Gold Coast casino because of an official opening he was required to attend.

Both he and Mr Foley declined to comment about whether they would have still gone to the fundraiser if they knew of Star’s patronage.

The fundraiser was hosted ahead of Ms D’Ath giving approval to the gambling giant’s $2 billion masterplan for its Gold Coast operations, which Star recently warned was contingent on the Palaszczuk government abandoning a proposed second casino on the tourist strip.

At least three ALP fundraisers were held at the casino just before laws banning developer donations came into effect in late 2017.

Star restaurant owner cashes out

High-profile Gold Coast restaurateur Simon Gloftis has left Nineteen at The Star, the swish restaurant and bar he set up with Glitter Strip hospitality power couple Billie and Jackie Crosa Cross on the 19th floor of The Star’s new Darling hotel last year.

The Gold Coast Bulletin reported in July that Gloftis, also owner of acclaimed Queensland eateries Hellenika on the Coast and in Brisbane, announced the news in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

He said he had asked The Star to release him from his contract ‘and as of today I am no longer involved in @nineteenatthestar,” he posted.

“The decision was not made lightly, however it had become pretty obvious to me that my own venues – and future projects – requires my full attention, focus and energy,” he wrote.

The Star have been incredibly understanding of my desire to concentrate on that oath and I thank them for supporting me. “In my heart I know I’ve made the right choice.

“I’m sure that Nineteen at The Star will continue to be a huge success and I wish my partners, Billy and Jackie Cross, and everyone at The Star all the very best for the future.

“Everyone knows my teams my life and I can’t thank them enough for following my vision with such precision and professionalism. I’m going to miss them deeply.

“I look forward to sharing with you details of my newest ventures and thank you for your ongoing support,” Gloftis said.

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