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…..

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