Liberal MP Warren Entsch gives Cairns candidate wife’s self-help charity taxpayer-funded grant

From the Australian: Veteran Liberal National Party federal MP Warren Entsch gave a taxpayer-funded grant of $4465 to a “women’s empowerment” charity without disclosing his wife was the face of the organisation and its president.

Mr Entsch’s wife Yolonde – now the LNP’s candidate for the must-win state seat of Cairns – was made president of The Social Effect in March 2021 and by December, her husband was announcing the grant funding.

The veteran MP for the far north Queensland electorate of Leichhardt announced $111,975 from the Morrison government’s $20m volunteer grants fund would go to 28 local community organisations, including The Social Effect, which ran annual women’s ‘Radiance’ self-help conferences.

“I have seen first-hand the impact of volunteering here in Cairns and Far North Queensland and how the hard work of local volunteers continues to strengthen our community,” Mr Entsch said in his public announcement on December 1, 2021.In response to questions from The Australian, Mr Entsch said it was “incredibly disappointing to see the Labor party and journalists attacking a strong female candidate”. The Australian has also contacted Ms Entsch and the LNP for comment.

But expression of interest documents supplied by Mr Entsch show the $4465 grant was applied for by The Social Effect’s vice-president Suzie Port and treasurer Jessie Port. The form – on Mr Entsch’s official Leichhardt MP letterhead – says The Social Effect would enter into an “auspice agreement with the Women’s Yarning Place” to supply furniture, computers, a bathroom hand-dryer and mental health first aid training for volunteers.

What the form does not disclose is that Ms Entsch is also the founder of the Women’s Yarning Place, described in the application as “a safe space for women experiencing challenges such as substance misuse, poverty, domestic violence and mental health issues”.

It is not the first time Mr Entsch has directed taxpayer funding to an organisation directly connected with his wife. The Australian revealed last year that Mr Entsch gave his non-Indigenous wife’s private company a $1000 taxpayer-funded NAIDOC week grant from his electorate in November 2020, to “celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence”.

At the time, he denied any wrongdoing.

The Morrison government also gave Ms Entsch a $213,725 two-year grant from its Indigenous Languages and Arts program in 2019-20 to teach pottery in the remote Aboriginal community of Doomadgee (which is in the neighbouring federal electorate to Mr Entsch’s Leichhardt). She was not required to declare her relationship with her MP husband during the grant application.

In this latest case, the volunteering grant recipients were picked by an independent panel via an expressions of interest process.

The Australian understands Mr Entsch did not reveal the alleged conflict of interest to the independent panel. He did not disclose it in the public announcement of recipients.

Just weeks after receiving the grant, The Social Effect suddenly cancelled its heavily promoted Radiance 2022 event, for which women could pay $150-a-ticket for a day of female speakers and workshops at the Shangri-La at the Cairns Marina on February 11, 2022.

The Social Effect’s website is now defunct, and it has not made any public announcements since the cancellation.

But there is no disclosure of Ms Entsch’s role as the charity’s president, regular guest speaker, and heavily advertised face.

According to the organisation’s Facebook page – which still promotes Ms Entsch’s mobile number as its contact – Ms Entsch was to take the conference participants on “a journey during the day, called Postcards from the Edge”.

“Yolonde will lead you through a gentle process that will help you define future goals, take action, and have a laugh or two along the way.”

Mrs Entsch was quoted as saying: “We want Radiance 2022 to have real outcomes and when you walk away, you do so with a feeling of personal empowerment. You will have set a few goals, visualised some life changes that you’ve been wanting to make, and know where to start!”

Other speakers were to include Vicky Andrews on decluttering and minimalism, Tammy Coggan on “the art of vulnerable conversation,” and “confidence coach” Lesley Van Staveren delivering a workshop on “how to activate your personal power”.

The Social Effect’s secretary in 2021 was Bridey Walsh, who was a taxpayer-funded staffer for Mr Entsch at the same time as she worked for another of Ms Entsch’s “empowering women” companies.
Ms Walsh was the executive officer of Ms Entsch’s Empowering Women Empowering Communities business between January 2020 and September 2021, at the same time as she was paid by the taxpayer to work in Mr Entsch’s electorate office.

An investigation by The Australian last year also revealed Mr Entsch organised for a billionaire LNP donor to jump the queue and fly to the Torres Strait to have a Pfizer Covid jab, lobbied for him to be given citizenship, and arranged a private dinner for him with then-prime minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Entsch then later secured a $304,000 donation from Soviet-born property developer Alex ­Sekler just ahead of the 2022 federal election, which was used to bolster his campaign to hold the marginal seat of Leichhardt.


Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • One Nation
    published this page in News 2024-04-05 16:49:51 +1000