With the NSW Liberal Party being brought low by revelations in ICAC, serious allegations emerge of illegal donations to new Premier Mike Baird. Peter Wicks from Wixxyleaks reports.
Some have described it as a train wreck in slow motion, some have described it as a disgrace, and others have seen it coming in the distance for a long time — whatever your thoughts, the impact on the Liberal Party has been catastrophic.
I am speaking of course of the ongoing Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) hearings, which seem to claim more Liberal and National Party victims every week.
With so many Ministers, MPs and even a premier being forced to either step down or resign you would assume that the Party would take especial care when appointing a new NSW premier.
However, that would be forgetting that this is the Liberal Party we are talking about.
Former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell resigned from the top job after misleading ICAC regarding his relationship with Nick Di Girolamo. This is a relationship that Mr O’Farrell had also been accused of misleading Parliament about on several occasions.
After an agreement was reached between Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian ‒ one that infuriated several of the factional players within the Liberal and National Parties ‒ Mike Baird became Premier and the female runner, Berejiklian, kept her job but was given nothing more.
No deputy premier’s position for Berejiklian because, since Andrew Stoner is a member of the National Party, he became the deputy premier.
This week in the NSW Parliament, the new Premier Mike Baird failed in Parliament to explain some of the donations to his campaign after being grilled by the Opposition.
This is exactly the type of thing that ICAC has been flushing out and exposing, and precisely what we’ve seen many in the NSW Liberal Party resign over recently.
Some may call it electoral fraud.
Amongst those things Baird has failed, or refused, to explain was a donation that breached the electoral funding cap and comes from companies associated with Roger Massy-Greene.
This is significant, because Mr Baird then awarded Roger Massy-Greene a lucrative consulting contract and was also appointed to a Government board.
Something there is clearly not ‘above board’.
Liberal Party documents reveal that, on 9 March 2011 and in breach of the state campaign cap, Mike Baird's campaign received a donation of $5,000 from Eureka Capital Partners — which is a company owned by Roger Massy-Greene.
Records have also revealed that, on the same day, Mr Baird received a further $5,000 from Duvose Pty Ltd, which is also owned by Roger Massy-Greene.
Clearly, Roger Massy-Greene was eager for his consulting contract and board appointment.
It should be remembered that jobs for the boys was what eventually cost disgraced NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce his position as minister. Barry O’Farrell stood by Mr Pearce after he was drunk on the job and had to be virtually carried out of Parliament House, however the “jobs for the boys” scandal shortly after was considered to be unforgivable and so he was sacked.
For Mike Baird to retain his premiership under these circumstances, it could be argued that he is receiving more favourable treatment than a drunken former minister and has less integrity than a disgraced former premier, who resigned after misleading both parliament and the ICAC.
The roles Mike Baird awarded his generous donor/financier Mr Massy-Greene were a $150,000 consulting contract for a measly three months’ work, as well as a cushy appointment as chairman of Networks NSW — which Baird was kind enough to double the salary for just prior to the appointment to $200,000.
It’s nice to have friends in the right places, I suppose.
In Parliament, the Labor Party also questioned why Mike Baird had failed to declare a single donation in his electoral return for the past seven years. It was as if he had received no donations at all!
The records, however, paint a much different picture, showing Mike Baird’s campaigns have had 43 different donors, who have declared more than $170,000 worth of donations.
Records of Baird’s donations can be seen via the below link.
In effect, the man who lost a billion dollars of NSW taxpayers’ money evidently considered $170,000 as nothing ‒ unworthy of declaring ‒ at all.
If Baird resigns, as many are calling for, we can expect to hear the word “honourable” touted about a lot, as we did when Barry O’Farrell fell on his sword.
But I don’t see much honourable about lying to voters, misleading parliament and deceiving ICAC. Similarly, I don’t see anything honourable in not declaring vast donations and using taxpayer funds to employ major donors to your election campaign.
Indeed, I see nothing particularly honourable about resigning — if it only occurs after you have been caught out and exposed for dubious conduct.
Some people clearly have a different definition of the word honourable to me.
If Mike Baird heeds the chorus of calls for his resignation ‒ and, frankly, I can’t see other option if he wishes to retain any kind of dignity at all ‒ he will become the shortest serving premier in Australia’s history.
Sworn in on 17 April 2014, Baird has been Premier for the grand total of just 22 days now.
Not even a month. I've had longer long weekends.
If Mike Baird doesn’t resign, the people of NSW will know that they have a Premier and a State Government that not only accepts dodgy practices and scandal, but embraces it.
The people of NSW deserve better, but unfortunately given the revelations coming out of ICAC, I fear there will soon be nobody left on the Coalition front bench at all.
Though given the way they have been behaving, that may be a good thing.
Peter Wicks is a former NSW State Labor candidate and an ALP member. You can follow him on Twitter @madwixxy.
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