West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has defended his decision to attend a private dinner at the home of a major property developer, where they drank a $1000 bottle of wine.
Mr McGowan told reporters state leaders often attend events hosted by prominent people, and he could not “help if there is some wine that is served there that is expensive”.
The Penfolds Grange wine tasting dinner was held at the Peppermint Grove mansion of property developer Nigel Satterley on Friday night.
Mr McGowan said it was not a political fundraiser and noted he was usually out four or five times per week attending various events in his role as the Premier.
“It’s just standard practice for people who are premiers or prime ministers or chief ministers or ministers to go out to dinners, to go to events, to go to functions and do these sorts of things,” he said.
“I went and had dinner with a group of business people, some of whom are very prominent investors in WA. I work hard to encourage people to invest in WA all the time.”
Other guests reportedly included Mineral Resources managing director Chris Ellison, West Coast Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs, APM chief executive Mike Anghie, Wesfarmers chairman Michael Chaney and Crown Resorts Perth chairman John Van Der Wielen.
Mr McGowan said he would rather have stayed home.
“I’d rather be at home with my wife and children, but that’s not the way my life works,” he said.
“My life works that I go out to functions, to events, I get invited to many things.
“I do many fundraisers, I do many public events.
“I actually knock back most invitations – probably nine out of 10 invitations, eight out of 10 I knock back. I accept what I can.”
Mr Satterley, who is a Liberal member, has previously hosted events for WA Labor.
Some other states have cracked down on political donations from property developers due to the potential for corruption, but Mr McGowan has no plans to do the same in WA.
“Once you start selecting various groups in terms of these things, you head down very difficult areas,” Mr McGowan said.
“For instance, is someone who puts in place a battle-axe at the back of their house, is that person a property developer?
“You may not even know that person has done that. So you have dinner or attend a fundraiser or something of that nature, therefore you are potentially criminalising yourself and you didn’t even know it.”
However, the state government is overhauling election donation laws to increase transparency, Mr McGowan added.