(Image screenshot smh.com.au)

The possible selection of Wyong major Doug Eaton as a NSW Liberal Party state candidate raises grave questions about how serious it is about weeding out the rampant corruption identified by ICAC. Peter Wicks from Wixxyleaks reports.

In the lead up to the 2015 NSW State election, the final rounds of pre-selections going on to see who will be waving the flag for the major parties.

The pre-selection process can be quite an ugly episode and I have written on some of the questionable decisions within the Labor Party and thought it was time to look at one candidate hoping to have his smile adorning the Liberal Party corflutes hanging from telegraph poles.

With ten Liberal Party State MP’s either forced out of parliament or now sitting on the crossbench as independents, you’d think the Party would flee from controversy like a rat running from a burning building, but apparently not.

Even losing a sitting premier due to evidence before ICAC hasn’t taught them anything it would seem.

Current Premier Mike Baird is seeking to make changes to the legislation involving political donations while all these members now forced onto the crossbench for ICAC revelations involving political donations are there to vote on the very issue that saw them in their predicament. This would appear to me like inviting all of the Australian citizens who have gone overseas to fight with ISIL back to vote on terrorism legislation.

However it would seem the message fails to reach those who make the decisions at Liberal Party headquarters.

One of the areas hit hardest by the ICAC hearing was the Central Coast, with electorate offices raided and three members reputations shattered, including that of front bencher Chris Hartcher.

These amongst other things are just some of the reasons it defies belief that the Liberal Party hierarchy would even consider the notion of someone like Doug Eaton being pre-selected to represent the electorate of The Entrance, many question why he has even been allowed to be a member of the Liberal Party at all.

The seat of The Entrance is being vacated by former Liberal MP Chris Spence, who was disgraced before ICAC corruption hearings.

Doug Eaton is the current Mayor of Wyong Shire Council, where there have been some questionable goings on ‒ to say the least ‒ some of which have been recently reported in the mainstream media.

There is the bizarre ‘Chinese Disneyland’ theme park proposal that has residents scratching their heads. Old Sydney Town failed to survive in the region and Mike and Mal Leyland’s theme park, featuring a miniature Ayers Rock is now an embarrassing eyesore being used a service station and local flea market.

Another is a building supply company owned by Eaton & Sons that has been operating since 2007, allegedly without development approval and there is an ongoing battle involving the driveway to the site. Added to that there is also the matter of a hardware store owned by Eaton & Sons that has been added to the site of The Big Flower nursery, also allegedly without any development application being lodged.

Even Doug Eaton’s wife has not been able to escape controversy.

Doug's wife it would seem not only has to choose her wardrobe each morning, she also has to choose which name she will go by. Ruby Eaton also goes by the name Hongyi Yang and sources allege there are other names she uses also.

Ruby / Hongyi has organised a lunch offering local business a unique opportunity to ‘directly influence’ the Mayor and, in particular, council planning, for the bargain price of $150 a head.

Doug Eaton’s recent membership of the Liberal party came as a surprise to many, particularly those who have known Doug for a while.

In 2004, Doug Eaton was a member of the Liberal Party, seeking donations to help the local campaign.

Doug and his right hand man Greg Best were involved with a businessman, Morris Wheeler, keen to donate to the Liberal Party.

A letter to Doug Eaton from Mr Wheeler it states:

‘Further to my telephone discussion with you and Greg Best I now attach three cheques as contributions…’

These contributions came in the form of three separate cheques of $900 each, drawn on Arjuna Pty Ltd, Quintet Pty Ltd and Rustrum Pty Ltd made out to the Liberal Party, Berkeley Vale branch. Another notable member of the controversial Berkeley Vale branch was none other than Karen McNamara who is now the Liberal’s Federal Member for Dobell.

However, when the Liberal Party claimed no knowledge of the donation and a trace was put on the cheques it turned out that they had ended up in Doug Eaton’s company account of Eaton & Sons.

After all the tall stories, the final result was that Doug Eaton was kicked out of the Liberal Party, however he was not referred to police as many say he should have been.

It would seem once bitten twice not so shy in terms of the Liberal Party, who have once again embraced Doug Eaton as one of their own.

So who would be crazy enough to back someone like this in an electorate that has already bore the shame of having a member resign over evidence revealed at a corruption hearing?

Quite a few it would seem, but it is interesting to hear who some of those are.

Doug Eaton was part of the Berkley Vale branch, at which the current Federal member for Dobell was the Treasurer; sources allege she has been instrumental in seeing Eaton reinstated into the Party. McNamara’s husband is also known as a close friend of Greg Best, Eaton’s long term right hand man.

McNamara who has already been dragged into ICAC regarding the Liberals dodgy donations scandal was keen to distance herself from Doug Eaton now the wheels are falling off his campaign bus.

In an emailed response to me McNamara has called claims of her support to be

“… completely unfounded and untrue.”

McNamara also refused to make any comment on his bid for a state seat or his suitability for the role.

Perhaps McNamara seeks to distance herself due to the sheer amount of evidence that has been forwarded to ICAC on Doug Eaton. That evidence is rumoured to be a mountain of information so high, you’d need an oxygen supply and safety rope to scale it.

Interestingly enough, Doug Eaton’s Liberal Party Nomination form was signed off by Laurie Litchfield and Ray Carter.

Laurie Litchfield is a local property developer, which makes for an interesting supporter given he is signing the nomination of a local mayor for the Liberal Party. Nothing to see here, I’m sure.

The other name Ray Carter may sound familiar for some.

Ray Carter was an electorate officer and alleged “bagman” for disgraced Liberal Energy Minister Chris Hartcher.

Hartcher was forced out of his front bench and ministerial office after evidence before ICAC that supported allegations he was at the centre of a web of illegal donations and money laundering that saw a river of dirty money flowing to Liberal Party coffers.

As part of his evidence before ICAC Fairfax reported Carter testifying that

“… he might have dishonestly used more than $1000 from two Sydney developers.”

I have to hand it to Doug, to obtain the signatures of a property developer and a bagman who admits before ICAC that he may have dishonestly used donations from developers for your nomination form is either a very brave or a bloody stupid thing to do.

For the Liberal Party to be welcoming Doug Eaton back into the fold shows they are a Party that chooses to ignore corruption rather than be bothered to fight it. They have shown themselves to be completely out of touch with a society that demands politicians serve their electorates over their own self-interests at all times.

For Labor to still be slumping behind in the polls against a Liberal Party this much disarray is, in my view, testament to the current leadership of state secretary Jamie Clements in Sussex Street.

Maybe both Parties have something starting with C they need to weed out.

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Peter Wicks is a former NSW Labor state candidate and current ALP member. Follow Peter Wicks on Twitter @madwixxy. Peter Wicks will be talking about Jacksonville at an IA function at the Summer Hill Hotel in Sydney on November 21. Book your tickets here.

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