John Alexander, who is campaigning to win back his seat of Bennelong at Saturday's by-election, has denied breaching parliamentary rules by not declaring income from a rental property
The Liberal candidate for Bennelong, John Alexander, has not declared any rental income from his $4.8-million rural estate in the NSW Southern Highlands on a parliamentary register.
That’s despite Iona Park being listed as the most expensive rental property in the Moss Vale region on holiday booking site Stayz.com, available from $1,584 per night.
The discrepancy, first reported by Fairfax Media, comes to light on the eve of a crucial by-election in Bennelong, where Mr Alexander’s electoral fortunes will have major implications for the Turnbull Government.
The listing shows the property is well-booked through December and January.
But Mr Alexander has never declared any rental income on his parliamentary Register of Interests, despite a requirement to disclose any “other substantial sources of income”.
Mr Alexander responded to the reports on Friday morning, claiming the revelations were "strategically targeted" to influence the upcoming by-election.
"I complied entirely with disclosure, with the assistance of the Clerk of the House," he told the Seven Network.
"You have to disclose your interests but there's no requirement to disclose any income."
Other parliamentarians with investment properties, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have declared their rental incomes.
Mr Alexander did declare the purchase of the property itself in accordance with the rules, updating the register on June 20 of this year shortly after the purchase.
Mr Turnbull said his Liberal colleague had done nothing wrong because the register only required the property itself to be listed, not the income it generated.
"He strictly complied with it, in accordance with the clerk’s advice," Mr Turnbull said on Melbourne radio station 3AW.
"John has disclosed the investment property that he bought."
Mr Turnbull said there had been genuine breaches of disclosure rules from some Labor MPs.
Last year, it was revealed Labor MP David Feeney failed to declare his ownership of a $2.3-million investment property.
In a statement to Fairfax Media, a spokesman for Mr Alexander said: “John Alexander declared the purchase of a property, to be operated as a business, in a timely manner and in line with the advice from the Clerk [of the House].”
Mr Alexander’s register does call the property a “business” on his register.
Shortly after buying the property, he told Domain it was for “short-term holiday rental and horse agistment purposes only”.
The property has horse-raising facilities and features stables.