(Image via Nine News Sydney ‏@ / NewsSyd)

On Wednesday, then NSW Opposition Whip and Illawarra MP MP Noreen Hay again found herself in hot water.

Hay had been backed all the way by NSW Labor Party general secretary Jamie Clements in a controversial Illawarra pre-selection battle. However, this has turned out to be most damaging to a Labor Party brand still trying to recover from the corruption of Noreen’s old pals and political allies Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi and Ian McDonald.

Clements went even further though, strongly supporting her into the whip position and allegedly even helping in hiring staff for the whip's office after key staff allegedly refused to work with Noreen and resigned.

Mr Clements was forced to close down one branch that had been controlled by Noreen's allies, however only after damaging revelations were published both here and in Fairfax.

The pre-selection was fraught, with branch stacking allegations, memberships not renewed, members being intimidated, not allowed to vote and even physically escorted from the ballot room. As for the branch that was closed down, minutes revealed them to be a branch of psychics, who knew the details of former Premier Barry O’Farrell’s resignation before it even happened.

NSW Labor under Jamie Clements and his so-called leadership is a strange beast indeed.

Many had issues with the way in which the pre-selection was handled by Jamie and the Sussex Street machine. I certainly did and have written many pieces on this travesty. Many branch members also evidently did, flooding my inbox with messages of support. Indeed, numerous MP’s also seem to have had concerns, giving me a wink and a nod and a pat on the back at various events.

Now, it would seem the Federal Police have also taken issue with Jamie’s handling of events involving Noreen and have decided maybe it can be handled better.

On Wednesday, Noreen Hay’s south coast electoral office was raided by Federal Police with several items seized.

The precise nature of their investigation is still unclear, however the consensus seems to be that it is to investigate allegations of electoral fraud.

However, there are other matters that could be related to the raid.

On the 26 May, Government Whip Peter Phelps raised some questions regarding Noreen’s possible involvement with a Chinese company called Shinyway and their representatives. Earlier in May, Shinyway were featured on an ABC Four Corners programme that put the company in a less than favorable light. Noreen’s later response was far from convincing so I took it upon myself to ask her some questions via email on the 13th July, question which Noreen has refused to respond to and as such I have had no reply from Noreen or her office.

Below are the questions upon which I was seeking response from Noreen. I hope the Federal Police can have a go at a response from her while they are chatting to her as many of us would love to know the whole story.

  • What is the nature of your relationship with Shinyway Education Group and is this or has it ever been a financial relationship?
  • What was the express purpose of this trip and what were the benefits to the taxpayers or Wollongong constituents?
  • Who paid for your staffer Kiley Martin’s travel expenses and was she on leave at the time, or was the taxpayer paying for her time?
  • Was Randy Lu or Michelle Greig part of the delegation you traveled with? If so, who paid for their travel expenses?
  • A few years ago, there was a scandal involving potential students from China paying to sit tests as a means of scouting for Wollongong University. This allegedly involved both Randy Lu and Peter Pederson. Can you explain if you had any involvement in this matter and to what extent?
  • You have claimed that you can provide details of your e-ticket and correspondence with Barry O’Farrell on the trip; why has none of this documentation been tabled as yet?
  • What was the nature of your recent trip to the Cook Islands?
  • Do you, or any organization you are part of, have any back accounts or financial advisors based in the Cook Islands?
  • It is understood that former members of the Illawarra Regional Development Board, aided by the disgraced former Minister Tony Kelly, made regular trips to China, such as Valerio Zanotto and Kiril Janovski who were exposed as corrupt by ICAC during to Wollongong council hearings. For what period were you chair of this board, and what knowledge do you have of the purpose and regularity of these trips, and did you also go on any of these trips?
  • Randy Lu has been in Australia in recent weeks, have you met with him while he has been here and if so what was discussed at those meetings?
  • Do you feel it is in the Labor Party’s interests, given the questions surrounding yourself and Shinyway, that you are the Opposition Whip.
  • Have any current or former officials from Sussex St been aware or involved in your dealings with Shinyway and if so to what extent?

In the meantime, we will wait for further details of the raid on Jamie Clement’s golden girl’s office to be announced.

Rest assured I will be following events closely. One piece of good news has come out of this affair already, however: Noreen Hay stood down from her position of Opposition whip on Friday. She remains a member of the Labor Party.

Peter Wicks is an ALP member and a former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy.

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