Party disloyalty accusation laid

HUNTER public relations identity Phil Neat is the latest Labor Party member to become embroiled in the bitter fallout within the party following last year's state election campaign.

The managing director of Broadmeadow-based company Neatcorp has been charged by the ALP with disloyal conduct relating to the $850 purchase of a flight in a stunt plane at a fund-raising auction for independent Newcastle candidate John Tate on November 24, 2006.

Election Funding Authority records also show Neatcorp made a $2000 donation to the campaign on November 16.

ALP NSW general secretary Karl Bitar confirmed yesterday that Mr Neat had been charged under section 35A of the party's rules with "Action or conduct contrary to the principles and solidarity of the Australian Labor Party Disloyal or unworthy conduct".

David Simmons, campaign manager for the party's Newcastle candidate Jodi McKay, made the complaint against Mr Neat.

Mr Simmons declined to comment when contacted.

Mr Neat described the charge against him as "petty" and said the $850, which he made with his personal credit card, had later been paid by Neatcorp.

"I purchased an auction item, a flight in a stunt plane. On the night it was charged to my thing. It was the only card I had on me," Mr Neat said.

"When the account came in, that element of the credit card was paid for by my company."

Neatcorp gave the flight back to the June flood regional relief fund-raising dinner held last August, where it was sold for three times the amount that Mr Neat paid for it.

Mr Neat, who is yet to be advised of a date for his hearing, said he had already provided the explanation to the ALP.

Mr Neat said he chose to remain neutral throughout last year's campaign.

"I just said I retain associations and I retain the friendships and I retain respect for people but I don't want to get involved," he said.

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