Showing posts with label ICAC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ICAC. Show all posts

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Trouble With Water: not a good look for the National Party of Australia



On 1 June 2017 former NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water (23 April 2014 - 2 April 2015) and current Nationals MP for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, announced that he will retire at the next state election in March 2019.

In the wake of the 24 July ABC “Four Corners” revelations of large-scale water theft under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Humphries has been referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by the Labor Opposition.

Hot on the heels of this program came another announcement on 31 July 2017.

Former NSW Minister for Primary Industries (3 April 2011 - 2 April 2015) with responsibility for lands & water and current Nationals MP for Cootamundra, Katrina Hodgkinson, announced her retirement effective mid to late August 2017.

Hodgkinson denies any connection between her sudden retirement and those Four Corners revelations.

However it should be noted that it was on the joint watch of Humphries and Hodgkinson that the position of NSW Water Commissioner responsible for the overall management of the State’s surface water and groundwater resources was axed and the NSW Office of Water was reformed as part of the Dept. of Primary Industry maintaining overall responsibility for accepting and assessing applications to change water access licences and operating the Water Access Licence Register.

High volume water theft appears to have become easier on the watch of these two National Party politicians.

All that would be needed for a trifecta of retiring state politicians associated with water resource policy would be for the current NSW Minister for Primary Industry, Minister for Regional Water and Nationals MLC, Niall Blair, to announce an unexpected desire to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests.

Any further scandal surrounding the management water resources in the NSW section of the Murray-Darling Basin and this may well be a distinct possibility - or even more media coverage like this perhaps?

The Daily Telegraph, 2 August 2017:

A NATIONALS minister is pushing Cabinet colleagues to change irrigation laws to retrospectively justify a decision by his department to give a major political donor and cotton farmer more rights over the precious Barwon-Darling River.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair is behind a push to alter an element of the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan.

It comes after his department in 2016 overruled what it called “minor” error in the law to grant extra irrigation rights to Brewarrina cotton farmer Peter Harris.

A department briefing, seen by The Daily Telegraph, said the error was impacting on “some users wishing to trade between river sections covered by the plan”.

The briefing was written shortly after Mr Harris was given extra rights.

Mr Harris gave $10,000 to the National Party prior to the 2011 election in combined personal donations and those made by his company.

Its understood an internal Coalition fight has broken out between Mr Blair and current Water Minister Gabrielle Upton , who is resisting the changes. The revelations come as several inquiries have been launched into the alleged water theft on an industrial scale of precious resources across the basin…….

The Daily Telegraph has obtained another document showing that the retiring Ms Hodgkinson changed the water sharing plan to benefit irrigators after lobbying. She was water minister at the time.

In a 2012 letter to lobbyist and cotton farmer Ian Cole, Ms Hodgkinson wrote: “Following consideration of a number of WSP (water sharing plan) matter raised with me, I ­requested the Office of Water to make several amendments which I believe now present a fair and equitable outcome for all.”

The Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton's obvious reluctance may be due to her appreciation of a change in wind direction within the national electorate on the subject of Murray-Darling Basin water allocations.

The present Deputy Prime Minister and Australian Water Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is also in a somewhat precarious position – less to do with his manifest inadequacy as a federal minister and more to do with his stated motives for seeking to add the water ministry to his portfolio responsibilities.

Cartoonist David Rowe at Financial Review

Monday, 5 June 2017

NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government has decided that a new group will be added to those already receiving under-the-table largesse from corrupt developers


If the investigative history of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) since its inception in 1988 (as well as the existence of the Pecuniary Interest & Disciplinary Tribunal) wasn’t proof enough that everyone from ministers of the Crown, members of parliament, judicial officers, public servants, local government councillors and council administrative staff, are capable of being corrupted by rapacious developers, the Berejiklian Coalition Government has decided to increase the field for the convenience of their bagmen by adding yet another layer to the development consent process.


Councils are set to be stripped of the power to determine development applications above a certain value in a governance shake-up that will mandate the use of independent planning panels across most of NSW….

Draft changes to the Planning Act released by then planning minister Rob Stokes in January proposed empowering the minister to order a council to use an independent panel for development applications in certain circumstances…..

it is understood new Planning Minister Anthony Roberts believes that mandating Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) is an important probity measure.

The panels, which are optional at present, are used by large councils, including Parramatta and Liverpool.

Fairfax Media understands Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Mr Roberts are considering the change alongside a suite of housing affordability measures to go to cabinet this week.

The final shape of the independent panels has yet to be decided but it is likely they would operate in a similar fashion to the existing IHAPs.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

NSW ICAC Operation Cavill: former NSW Liberal MP for Gladesville & former Ryde Mayor committal hearing on charges of blackmail and misconduct in public office


The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 October 2016:

A former Liberal state MP and Sydney mayor will face court on Monday to determine if he should be committed to stand trial for blackmail and misconduct in public office.
Ivan Petch was Ryde mayor when, in 2012, a controversial redevelopment of the Ryde Civic Centre triggered a series of flash points that later became the subject of a two-week hearing by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
Mr Petch now faces a range of charges arising from the inquiry, including two counts of blackmail, misconduct in public office and giving false or misleading evidence to ICAC.
Mr Petch lashed out at the corruption watchdog last week for having "discoloured" his "whole career in one fell swoop".
"I have spent 37 years serving the people and, in that time, I have always acted in the interests of the community," he said. "I have stood by them all the way through."
After losing his state seat of Gladesville in the 1995 election to Labor's John Watkins by the narrow margin of 250 votes, Mr Petch became an independent councillor who went on to serve six terms as Ryde mayor.
However, in 2013, ICAC investigated Mr Petch over the alleged release of confidential council information "on many occasions for various reasons" but most notably to "undermine" council employees such as the former general manager John Neish.
During the inquiry, a phone tap was played of Mr Petch threatening to "destroy" Mr Neish. It emerged that, a short time later, sensitive material was leaked in a bid to discredit the council's head, after he refused to delay a high-rise residential redevelopment plan for council's ageing civic centre.
Mr Petch, who is charged with one count of misconduct in public office for allegedly releasing that material, has also been charged with "being an accessory before the fact of a count of blackmail" in relation to the alleged threat, for which property developer John Goubran is also facing a blackmail charge.
Mr Petch is also facing a separate charge of blackmail for allegedly attempting to improperly influence Mr Neish's acting replacement Danielle Dickson after her predecessor quit.
The then mayor allegedly threatened Ms Dickson that councillors, including himself, would block her application for the permanent position if she failed to resolve an ongoing Supreme Court costs dispute in their favour.
Mr Petch's three-day committal hearing will be heard in Sydney Local Court by Deputy Chief Magistrate Jane Mottley.

BACKGROUND

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC):


The ICAC investigated a number of allegations involving the former Mayor of the City of Ryde, Ivan Petch, and others, including the alleged release of confidential council information by Mr Petch on many occasions for various reasons, including in an attempt to undermine council employees, such as the former General Manager, Mr John Neish.
In its report on the investigation, made public on 30 June 2014, the Commission makes corrupt conduct findings against Mr Petch, John Goubran and Richard Henricus. The Commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) with respect to the prosecution of Mr Petch, Mr Goubran, Anthony Stavrinos, John Booth and Mr Henricus for various offences.
The ICAC is of the opinion that consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the DPP also with respect to the prosecution of Mr Petch, councillors Justin Li, Jeffrey Salvestro-Martin, Terry Perram and former councillor Victor Tagg for offences under the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981 in relation to advertising published in The Weekly Times in August and September 2012. The Commission also recommends that the Office of Local Government gives consideration to disciplinary action against Mr Petch, with a view to his dismissal…..

Recommendations for prosecutions…..
The ICAC is of the opinion that the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions should be obtained with respect to the prosecution of the following persons:
Ivan Petch
* The common law offence of misconduct in public office in relation to his handling of the discovery of adult material on Mr Neish's computer and his attempts to leak the material to the media.
* Five offences of giving false or misleading evidence pursuant to section 87 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 relating to the discovery of adult material on John Neish's computer.
* The common law offence of misconduct in public office in relation to his release of confidential advice from the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, and also internal Council emails concerning planning approvals.
* Making an unwarranted demand with menaces with the intention of influencing the exercise of a public duty pursuant to section 249K of the Crimes Act 1900 in relation to the approach to Danielle Dickson.
* Offences of accepting an indirect campaign contribution pursuant to section 96E of the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981 in relation to advertising published in The Weekly Times on 1, 7, 15, and 22 August 2012, and also 29 August and 5 September 2012.

Full report here.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Liberal Party of Australia going into the 2016 federal election campaign with tattered petticoats


On 31 March 2016 The Australian revealed the names of political donors that the Liberal Party of Australia had been attempting to deny to the Australian Electoral Commission.

It is noted that property developers are banned from making donations to political parties standing for election in New South Wales.

It is noted that the Free Enterprise Foundation donated $75,000 to the NSW division of the Liberal Party in 2013-14, $225,00 to the federal division of the Liberal Party in 2012-13, $1,250,000 to the federal division in 2013-14 and another $100,000 to the federal division in 2014-15.

Those donors with a red asterisk beside their names are known to have been mentioned (or their representatives gave evidence) during NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption “Operation Spicer” hearings.

This is the list of those names as published, with my annotations:

Donations to the Free Enterprise Foundation ahead of the NSW 2011 state election
Date, donor, amount

5/11/10: Renlyn Bell Investments *, $9,900 – part-owned by Sydney property developer Garry Bonaccorso through G & R Bonaccorso Family Trust.
5/11/10: DP Smith Enterprises *, $10,000 – involved in building & development.
5/11/10: E & B Pastoral P/L *, $500 – co-owner of industrial units.
5/11/10: Walker Pearse P/L *, $500 – Central Coast business consultant, former interest in retirement village.
5/11/10: PJC Holdings P/L *, $2,000 – said to be a company connected with Arthur Maroon of Beraci Pty Ltd, a housing construction company.
5/11/10: Belside P/L *, $10,000 – directors Sam Maroon and Joe Becharra.
5/11/10: ANZ Real Estate Consultants *, $5000
5/11/10: Naletran P/L *, $3000
18/11/10: Myall Coast Health *, $500 – currently owned by Ochre Health Group.
18/11/10: Australbricks *, $5000
6/12/10: Big Country Developments *, $9900 – NSW property development company operating since 1958, sole director Peter Heskey.
6/12/10: Anthony Shepherd *, $1500 - chairman of then Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Commission of Audit.
9/12/10: TSM Projects P/L *, $750 – property development.
9/12/10: Precinct 8C Wadalba Lobby Group *, $4000 – group of land owners pushing to have their Wadalba land re-zoned for subdivision.
9/12/10: Threshold Developments P/L *, $2000 – March 2013 land rezoned at Wadalba by NSW Coalition Government.
9/12/10: Everitt & Everitt Executive Super, $750
13/12/10: Tesrol Group Projects P/L, $1499 – land developers possibly belonging to the Tesrol Group of Companies.
13/12/10: Tesrol Bridge St P/L, $1499 - possibly belonging to the Tesrol Group of Companies.
13/12/10: Seasonsrage P/L, $1499
13/12/10: Smeaton Grange P/L, $1499
13/12/10: Rumerone P/L, $1499
13/12/10: Lorset P/L, $1499
13/12/10: Kirkstall P/L, $1499
13/12/10: Epivision P/L, $1499
13/12/10: Dribonn P/L, $1499
13/12/10: Tesrol P/L, $1499 – Tesrol Group of Companies comprising property development and joinery businesses.
14/12/10: Jilliby Stage 2 Land Owners Action Group *, $4000 – 2013 NSW Coalition Government attitude to development in Wyong Valley said to soften.
14/12/10: Holland Fine Art & Cars P/L , $10,000 – In 2013-2014 as a co-defendant the company was successfully sued over sale of forged artwork.
16/12/10: Transnational Storage P/L *, $12,500 – a Tuggerah NSW business.
16/12/10: Boardwalk Resources P/L *, $53,000 – then an unlisted mining exploration and development company with coal exploration assets in NSW & Qld subject to investigation during NSW ICAC. Operation Spicer
16/12/10: Sunbeat Bissap P/L, $10,000 – Chinese global trader of juice, tea and jellies.
16/12/10: Adaptive P/L, $500
16/12/10: T & R Pridham, $500
16/12/10: Adaptive P/L, $800
16/12/10: Aline Pumps Sales & Service *, $1490
16/12/10: JR & JM Pridham, $1500
16/12/10: SFH P/L ATF Stead Family Trust, $600
16/12/10: SFH P/L ATF Stead Family Trust, $375
16/12/10: SFH P/L ATF Stead Family Trust, $500
16/12/10: PR & GA Monks, $1000
16/12/10: RA & EJ Kennard, $1500
16/12/10: T & GM Pridham, $500
16/12/10: JS & SJ Lindqvist, $50
16/12/10: DG Firth & MJ Firth, $1490
16/12/10: DJ & CR Kennard, $1500
16/12/10: Jerry & Debbie Kennard, $1500
16/12/10: KJ & SE Truswell, $1200
16/12/10: Allsteel Products P/L, $1499
16/12/10: EJ & JG Fooks, $1000
16/12/10: BD & RG Gooden, $1499
16/12/10: JP & DR Monks, $1490
16/12/10: Interspan Industries P/L, $1490
16/12/10: The Advance Precision Trust, $1499
16/12/10: NJ & PG Kennard, $750
16/12/10: NJ & PG Kennard, $750
16/12/10: Fooks P/L, $1499
16/12/10: Fooks P/L, $1499
16/12/10: Fooks P/L, $1499
16/12/10: Weltson P/L, $5000
17/12/10: Petra Civil P/L, $2000
17/12/10: Elmslea Land Developments *, $20,000 – wanted land rezoned to expand Elmslea Village, proposal still being progressed by local council in 2015.
17/12/10: Swift Exhaust, $1499
17/12/10: A & SA Davis, $1450
17/12/10: The Heaney Family Trust, $1499
17/12/10: CJ & JR Shore, $1499
17/12/10: Fleetwood Urban P/L, $1499
17/12/10: Windsor Farm Equipment, $1499
17/12/10: Printban P/L *, $10,000 – a property lessor company on the NSW Central Coast associated with Tim Gunasinghe, general manager/ director of Commercialhq a commercial property development company located on the NSW Central Coast specializing in commercial office accommodation, retail shopping centres, specialized retail and commercial development.
20/12/10: Town & Country Lands P/L, $10,000 - lawn and garden service company.
20/12/10: Soul Pattinson *, $50,000 – Washington H. Soul Pattinson has a property investment portfolio, which at the time of this donation had cross-shareholdings with Brickworks since 1969. Soul Pattinson donated $50,000 dollars to the federal division of the Liberal Party in 2012-13.
20/12/10: Brickworks *, $125,000 – brick manufacturing business & property developer through its Land and Development Group. Donated $100,000 to the NSW division of the Liberal Party in 2013-14. and 21/12/10: Westfield Limited *, $150,000 – previously Westfield Development Corporation Limited and now Scentre Limited, a large international property development company registered in NSW. Westfield Limited donated $150,000 to the federal division of the Liberal Party in 2012-13.
22/12/10: Walker Group Holdings *, $100,000 – part of a large property development group established in 1964 and headquartered in Sydney NSW. The Walker Group donated $20,000 to the NSW division of the Liberal Party in 2013-14 and $100,000 to the federal division of the Liberal Party in 2012-13.
Total: $680,214

FEDERAL LIBERAL PARTY DONATIONS

Donations to the Free Enterprise Foundation
Date, donor, amount

28/07/10: Meriton Premier Apartments *, $25,000
29/07/10: Brickworks *, $50,000 – donated $150,000 to federal division Liberal Party in 2012-13.
5/8/10: Xiang Rong (Aust) Inv Group P/L *, $20,000
19/08/10: Crown International Holdings *, $10,000
19/08/10: Vaste Developments P/L, $3000
8/9/10: Lin Mingchi, $5000
Total: $113,000

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

High Court of Australia: state of play in the matter of NSW Independent Commission against Corruption v. Cunneen & Ors


For those interested in how the appeal, Independent Commission against Corruption v. Cunneen & Ors is progressing, see document links below.

North Coast Voices’ regular readers might recall that it was Cunneen v Independent Commission Against Corruption which caused the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption to delay its final reports concerning Operations Credo and Spicer.


09/12/2014 Application for special leave to appeal
12/12/2014 Hearing (Single Justice, Sydney)
16/01/2015 Written submissions (Applicant)
16/01/2015 Chronology (Applicant)
02/02/2015 Written submissions (Respondents)
02/02/2015 Chronology (Respondents)
13/02/2015 Reply (Applicant)
04/03/2015 Hearing (Full Court, Canberra
*The due dates shown for documents on this page are indicative only

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Six ICAC recommendations concerning election funding which are never likely to be endorsed by a NSW government


In the last month of 2014 the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption released a report titled; Election funding, expenditure and disclosure in NSW: Strengthening accountability and transparency.

This 31-page report made twenty-two (22) recommendations which would make politicians, political parties and associated entities more accountable for their fundraising activities, finally allow voters to be aware of the sources of political funding in the lead-up to a state election and, allow for the de-registration of political parties in extreme cases of non-compliance.

Here are eight of those recommendations which are unlikely to be implemented no matter which major political party wins the March 2015 state election:



Wednesday, 24 December 2014

IN LIMBO: NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption reports on Operation Credo & Operation Spicer investigations


To misquote a well known saying; the mills of justice grind slowly. So it is likely that voters in New South Wales will cast their ballots in the 28 March 2015 state election without knowing the Commission's recommendations regarding those politicians, political staffers and businessmen identified as having behaved in an allegedly corrupt manner.

These three media releases and one newspaper article encapsulate the legal difficulties facing current and possibly future corruption investigations by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

ICAC Operation Hale public inquiry
Friday 5 December 2014

Today's majority decision of the NSW Court of Appeal with respect to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)'s Operation Hale public inquiry fundamentally affects the scope of the Commission's powers to conduct investigations into corrupt conduct.
It is critical to the exercise of the Commission's powers generally that the construction of section 8 of the ICAC Act is settled.
Accordingly, the ICAC will seek leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.
The Commission will be making no further comment at this stage.
Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801

Statement regarding Operations Credo and Spicer
Friday 5 December 2014

The majority decision in Cunneen v ICAC [2014] NSWCA 421 fundamentally alters the basis of the Commission's powers with respect to significant parts of Operations Credo and Spicer.
 The Commission is seeking special leave in the High Court of Australia as a matter of urgency.
 Until the proceedings are resolved, the Commission will not complete the reports in Operations Credo and Spicer.
 The Commission will be making no further comment at this stage.

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801


COURTROOM, LEVEL 23
Law Courts Building, Queen's Square, Sydney

FRIDAY, 12 DECEMBER 2014
AT 2:15 PM
BEFORE HIS HONOUR CHIEF JUSTICE FRENCH

INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION V CUNNEEN & ORS

Matt Grey
Deputy Registrar

The Sydney Morning Herald 12 December 2014:

The High Court is set to have the final say about whether the Independent Commission Against Corruption can investigate Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen over allegations she perverted the course of justice.

Chief Justice Robert French on Friday referred the commission's application for special leave to appeal a ruling shutting down its investigation into Ms Cunneen, SC, to the full court of the High Court, which will hear the appeal in March.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption seeks urgent hearing in Australian High Court to confirm and protect its investigative powers


On 30 October 2014 the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced a public inquiry into allegations concerning alleged corrupt conduct by a senior public official.

This inquiry known as Operation Hale was due to commence on 10 November 2014 and run over a two-day period.

However, by 10 November 2014 the NSW Supreme Court had handed down its judgment in Cunneen and Ors v Independent Commission Against Corruption [2014] NSWSC 1571.

The Court found against the plaintiffs; Margaret Cunneen, Stephen Wyllie and Sophia Tilley – concluding that:

 118.       It follows from the above that the plaintiffs have not made out the issues raised in their summons and that their summons should be dismissed. I have not heard argument as to costs and accordingly, I will give the parties an opportunity to make submissions on that issue and I reserve my decision as to costs.
 119.       The orders which I make are as follows:
(1) The plaintiffs' summons is dismissed.
(2) Costs are reserved.

As an appeal was foreshadowed ICAC agreed to delay the commencement of Operation Hale hearings.

On 18 November 2014 in Cunneen v Independent Commission Against Corruption [2014] NSWCA 421 the NSW Court of Appeal found for the plaintiffs - concluding:

123 The applicants are entitled to the relief sought in the summons, to the extent of a declaration that the Commission had no authority to investigate the matter identified in the summons by reference to the general scope and purpose of the proposed public inquiry and the nature of the allegation or complaint being investigated.

209 I agree with Basten JA that there was no power for ICAC to conduct an investigation into the allegation as described in the summons issued pursuant to s 35 of the ICAC Act because the alleged conduct did not fall within the definition of "corrupt conduct" in s 8(2) of the Act. I agree that the orders proposed by Basten JA should be made.

Neither judgement addressed the matter of whether the alleged incident occurred. ABC News reports that; Ms Cunneen has denied allegations she told her son Stephen Wyllie's girlfriend, Sophia Tilley, to pretend to have chest pains to avoid a blood-alcohol test after a car crash.

On 5 December 2014 ICAC issued the following statements:

ICAC Operation Hale public inquiry
Friday 5 December 2014

Today's majority decision of the NSW Court of Appeal with respect to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)'s Operation Hale public inquiry fundamentally affects the scope of the Commission's powers to conduct investigations into corrupt conduct.

It is critical to the exercise of the Commission's powers generally that the construction of section 8 of the ICAC Act is settled.

Accordingly, the ICAC will seek leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.
The Commission will be making no further comment at this stage.

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801

Statement regarding Operations Credo and Spicer
Friday 5 December 2014

The majority decision in Cunneen v ICAC [2014] NSWCA 421 fundamentally alters the basis of the Commission's powers with respect to significant parts of Operations Credo and Spicer.

 The Commission is seeking special leave in the High Court of Australia as a matter of urgency.

 Until the proceedings are resolved, the Commission will not complete the reports in Operations Credo and Spicer.

 The Commission will be making no further comment at this stage.

Media contact: ICAC Manager Communications & Media, Nicole Thomas, 02 8281 5799 / 0417 467 801

Sunday, 12 October 2014

NSW North Coast development referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption


A tale the NSW North Coast has heard many times before – a metropolitan-based developer is allegedly using a handful of local investors to hopefully cloak his proposed over-development with a modicum of legitimacy.

West Byron at North Coast Nature

01/10/2014

Dear Warren Simmons, Peter Croke, Gary Macdonald, Alan Heathcote, Tony Smith, Terry Agnew, Timothy Stringer, Ronald Geeves, David O’Connor, Kevin Rodgers and Richard Sykes,
We, the people of Byron Bay,  want to let you know that we believe you would be doing an irreversible harm to our town if your proposed rezoning and subsequent development of the West Byron wetlands goes through.
If this land is rezoned for intensive residential and industrial development, our lovely low-key, laid-back town would become a congested mess and look like so many other ruined coastal towns. The natural environment that brings people here must be protected; we will not accept more appalling traffic queues into town and an overcrowded parking nightmare.
We have asked, via your representative Stuart Murray, for meetings and for genuine community consultation but you have declined. You can do something about this terrible plan. You can stop it. For your property you can submit a more reasonable proposal to Council that avoids the most sensitive areas, enables an amount of development that will not overwhelm Byron’s ability to cope with it and still makes you sizeable profits.
Please consider the wellbeing of Byron Bay residents, the tourism industry, local koalas and the Belongil estuary and don’t attempt to sacrifice them for your profit. We will not accept this development.
Signed:
See full list of signatures here.

Echo NetDaily 1 October 2014:

The West Byron development proposal is to be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) today (Tuesday) by NSW Greens MLC and former Byron mayor Jan Barham.
Ms Barham told The Echo that the site ‘may have been wrongly defined’ and is worthy of investigation. ‘The community deserves to be assured that a project of this scale has not been brought forward for state approval wrongly.’
‘I believe that it is important that this matter is clarified before any assessment of the proposal by the government,’ she said.
The 108-hectare land is currently under planning minister Pru Goward’s determination for large-scale housing/industrial development, and sits just 2.5 kilometres west of the CBD on Ewingsdale Road.The Echo understands that Sydney-based developer Terry Agnew is by far the largest shareholder at around 80 per cent, along with other local investors.
Ms Barham says there appears to be ‘irregularities’ from when the site was defined in 2009 as West Byron Bay Urban Release Area for inclusion in the Major Development SEPP.
It comes after a meeting was held between Ms Barham, local state MP Don Page (Nationals) and members from the Byron Residents Group last week……

Friday, 19 September 2014

So what is this Free Enterprise Foundation of which they speak?


According to evidence before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and other sources, the Free Enterprise Foundation:

* Is listed by the Australian Electoral Commission as an associated entity of the federal divisions of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia.

* Was created by deed on 20 August 1981 as a $10 trust at the direction of Sir Robert Crichton-Brown, federal treasurer of the Liberal Party of Australia from 1973 to 1985.

* Has set out its objectives in the trust deed are as follows:

* Original trustees were Anthony Joseph Bandle and Charles James Fox who comprised the trust’s original Council. The current trustees are Anthony Bandle and Stephen Francis McAneney.  Both of whom were also trustees of the Greenfields Foundation, an associated entity which was allegedly set up to hide from public view a 1992 $4.7 million political donation to the Liberal Party.

* Accountants are Bandle McAneney & Company.

 Name was registered with the Australian Security & Investments Commission as a business name in 2012.

* Receives political donations which the trust directs onto the Liberal Party of Australia, the Liberal National Party of Queensland, other associated entities of the Liberal Party and, infrequently to registered charities.

In practice the Free Enterprise Foundation does not appear to fulfil all the prescribed purposes set out in the trust document, does not seem to operate independently of the Liberal Party of Australia and, has accepted political donations from prohibited donors in New South Wales which it redirected to the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Division).

Rather disingenuously former NSW Deputy State Director of the Liberal Party and former Metgasco Limited executive, Richard Shields, stated during a 12 September 2014 ICAC Operation Spicer hearing in relation to the Free Enterprise Foundation, which had donated  approximately $700,000 to the Liberal Party to fund its 2011 NSW election campaign:

I knew that it existed, I, I didn’t have a lot, a great understanding of it. I had heard, you know, I, I was of the opinion that it was an organisation that had political or philosophical 
allegiances with the conservative side of politics. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Former member Metgasco Limited's executive team to appear before NSW ICAC Operation Spicer investigation


Between 2011-13 Richard Shields was coal seam gas miner Metgasco Limited’s in-house lobbyist on its executive team as External Relations Manager.

Prior to crossing over to this listed mining company for those two years, Shields served as Deputy Director of the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Division) for over 3 years and also served as the Interim State Director.

It is primarily this political party role which sees Richard Shields included on the witness list for Friday 12 September 2009.

Presumably because evidence given during Operation Spicer hearings is that Shields took a direct hand in fundraising during his time in the party's William Street head office between 2008 and 2011 and, this is a period in which unlawful political donations were allegededly laundered through Liberal Party associated entities.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The 'I Knows Nuffink' defence reaches the height of absurdity during NSW ICAC Operation Spicer hearing


An exchange between junior counsel assisting the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption Greg O'Mahoney and Queanbeyan property developer Lee Jay Brinkmeyer during an Operation Spicer hearing on 9 September 2014:

O’MAHONEY: Do you appreciate, Mr Brinkmeyer, that as a businessman who is spending company funds that you’ve written a $20,000 cheque to an organisation you know nothing about on the say so of a person whom you only have a mobile phone contact for without knowing precisely where the money’s going to go and having made no inquiries about where the money actually went, is that the effect of your evidence?
BRINKMEYER: Yeah. I mean, when you put that way - - -
O’MAHONEY: That’s it in a nutshell?
BRINKMEYER: When you put it that way it sounds bad but that’s - - -
O’MAHONEY: It sounds more than bad, Mr Brinkmeyer?
BRINKMEYER: That’s correct
O’MAHONEY: It sounds absurd, if you wouldn’t mind me saying?
BRINKMEYER: Well look, when I’ve made other donations in the past whether it - - -

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption: Has the other shoe dropped for former premier Barry O'Farrell?


Retired as NSW Premier and Minister for Western Sydney effective 17 April 2014 and moved to the back bench after giving false evidence to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, Barry O’Farrell Liberal MP for Kur-ing-gai for is recalled as a witness today.

The Sydney Morning Herald 9 September 2014:

Two weeks before the 2011 election, then opposition leader Barry O'Farrell announced a tax policy that benefited developer Brickworks while the company was allegedly bankrolling a researcher in his office and had secretly donated $125,000 to the Liberal campaign.
As Premier, Mr O'Farrell made good on the policy – to repeal a controversial property transfer tax – six weeks after the election.
The researcher, Matt Crocker, is now director of policy to Premier Mike Baird.
Mr O'Farrell is due to give evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Tuesday after the commission heard last week that Brickworks secretly funded Mr Crocker's position in his office while he was opposition leader.
Former Liberal fundraiser Paul Nicolaou told the commission that Brickworks paid for a researcher in 2009, 2010 and 2011 at a cost of $50,000 a year……
The ICAC has also heard Brickworks donated $125,000 to the Liberal-linked Free Enterprise Foundation, a federally registered organisation, which was then allegedly channelled back to the NSW Liberals for use in the 2011 state election campaign.
Brickworks is Australia's largest brickmaker but also has a property development arm. Property developers have been banned from donating to state election campaigns in NSW since late 2009.
Mr O'Farrell visited the Horsley Park headquarters of Brickworks subsidiary Austral Bricks on March 12, 2011.
During the visit Mr O'Farrell announced that if Coalition won the March 26 election it would repeal what he called Labor's "sneaky" home buyers tax – a levy on property transfers worth more than $500,000, announced by planning minister Tony Kelly in 2010.
Attending the announcement was a representative of the Property Council of Australia which had railed against the new tax as "a brake on investment" and "effectively ... a second stamp duty".
Six weeks after winning the election, Mr O'Farrell made good on his pledge to repeal the property tax with legislation introduced to the Parliament on May 9.
The repeal bill was introduced to the Legislative Assembly by Mike Baird, who was then the Treasurer and who became Premier in April this year after Mr O'Farrell resigned over giving false evidence to a previous ICAC inquiry…..

Can the Speaker in the House of Representatives deny knowledge of alleged laundered money routed through The Dame Pattie Menzies Liberal Foundation?


According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald on 8 September 2014, Liberal Party MP for Mackellar and Speaker in the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop has been identified in evidence before the Operation Spicer investigation as being a director of the Dame Pattie Menzies Foundation Trust which received $11,000 from the Free Enterprise Foundation on December 9, 2010, which it then directed to the NSW branch of the party for use in the 2011 state election and The previous day, Mr Partridge has sent a cheque for $125,000 to the Free Enterprise Foundation with a note which read: "We trust this donation will provide assistance with the 2011 NSW State election campaign". Additionally, A $2000 donation to the Dame Pattie foundation from Australian Corporate Holdings, a company connected to Sydney property developer and sailor Syd Fischer, was also passed on to the NSW Liberals.

So sure was the foundation that these donations would not be queried that they were included on the relevant disclosure from:

Can Bronwyn Bishop deny all knowledge of this foundation receiving ‘laundered’ developer donations before passing them onto the NSW Liberal Party, when Australian Securities & Investment Commission records reveal that at least three current office bearers of The Dame Pattie Menzies Liberal Foundation Ltd (incorporated in NSW) are being questioned concerning allegations of corruption currently being heard during NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Operation Spicer hearings:

JOHN PEGG,  9 Bushlands Avenue, GORDON NSW 2072, appointed 15.11.93 appeared before NSW ICAC on 8 September 2014
BRONWYN KATHLEEN BISHOP, 21 Pacific Parade, DEE WHY NSW 2099, appointed 29.08.86
WARWICK JAMES WILKINSON,  6A Parriwi Road, MOSMAN NSW 2088, appointed 29.08.86
GILLIAN STOREY, Werong, YASS NSW 2582, appointed 23.11.92 
CHRISTINE MARGARET LIDDY, 103 Raglan Street, MOSMAN NSW 2088, appointed 20.02.04
DENISE ANNE FINK, Unit 11, 282 Sailors Bay Road, NORTHBRIDGE NSW 2063, appointed 20.02.04
DAMIAN JONES,  853 Barrenjoey Road, PALM BEACH NSW 2108, first appointed 06.01.05
NICHOLAS CAMPBELL, 6 Rhonda Close, WAHROONGA NSW 2076 appointed 13.12.13 appearing before NSW ICAC 9 September 2014

The company secretary since 2008 is:

SIMON JOHN MCINNES 5 Hillpine Avenue, KOGARAH NSW 2217, appeared before NSW ICAC 4 September 2014