LNP candidate for the seat of Hervey Bay Steve Coleman.
LNP candidate for the seat of Hervey Bay Steve Coleman.

Coleman quizzed on cash-for-access style dinner concerns

AT THE Esplanade restaurant, owned by Hervey Bay's LNP hopeful Steve Coleman, guests were to be invited to dine with the man vying to replace Ted Sorensen - at a cost of $2500.

For this, they would be promised a "six course degustation dinner, fine wines, a well known Senator present, live cross over with senior cabinet ministers and open Q & A".

The LNP now says however that the gala night detailed in the invite was canned.

Instead, a smaller private dinner with LNP supporters was said to have been held on Sunday night.

This was 24 hours before the LNP's leader was forced to defend a number of exclusive LNP gatherings, held in several seats across the state, amid concerns they may have breached campaign fundraising rules.

Deb Frecklington refuted any wrong-doing on Tuesday and said she stood by her integrity. (Read opinion piece here)

An LNP spokesman also said: "The ABC's allegation that the LNP has referred Deb Frecklington to the ECQ is false. It has not.

"The LNP regularly communicates with the ECQ to ensure that we comply with the Act."

Speaking to reporters at the Hervey Bay RSL this week Ms Frecklington denied attending the Coleman dinner and said she spent the night eating fish and salad in her hotel room while on Facetime with her husband.

Asked whether property developers attended the dinner, Mr Coleman dismissed that as "all rumours that started up by the opposition who were just trying to start a story out of nothing".

He said the invitation (pictured) had been put together by him and members of his team when they were discussing ideas but it was later scrapped and there was no story to be had.

A copy of the invitation circulating social media.
A copy of the invitation circulating social media.

"It was just something we were playing around with … something (that) was never intended for the public but we didn't put it out publicly, we didn't post it out, we never sent it out," he said.

"For some reason it got out and has been dangled around.

"I had a private event at my own private restaurant."

The event was described as a small private gathering of "a few people who wanted to do something".

An LNP spokesman told the Chronicle it was a fundraising event but did not disclose the number of people in attendance or how much was raised.

The State Opposition was also asked whether a 'well known senator' did attend and which cabinet ministers, if any, appeared in a live cross to which the spokesman replied "it was a private event".

They also did not confirm if the people who attended the smaller event paid the $2500 as outlined on the original invitation but said "all donations above the donation threshold will be disclosed to the ECQ as required by law".

At the time of publication no gifts or donations had yet been listed for Steve Coleman.

Several other candidates however have received donations including Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders who was given $20,000 from a union. Read that story here.