The Sydney Morning Herald 26 March 2015:
Friday, 27 March 2015
Is NSW Premier Baird trying to hide the Chinese connection in his electricity network privatisation plans?
A Chinese government-owned energy company that is a potential buyer of NSW electricity assets, State Grid Corp, was the subject of a "major" state audit last year which uncovered allegations of corruption amounting to more than $1 billion.
As Premier Mike Baird on Wednesday was asked more questions about the company and its dealings with the NSW government it has emerged that State Grid Corp's president, Liu Zhenya, was named as a key focus of the probe.
Mr Baird's office confirmed that a State Grid Corp executive, Shu Yinbiao, was one of those present at a business roundtable addressed by Mr Baird during his trip to China in September, not its president Mr Liu as previously advised……
However, the Wall Street Journal said in June the audit, which also involved another state-owned electricity company, China Southern Power Grid Company, focused on contracts for a west-to-east electricity transmission system.
The newspaper said China's national audit agency alleged that "more than $1 billion was misappropriated in less than four months [during 2013] in the construction and running of portions of a major electricity grid system".
Asked if Mr Baird knew about the revelations before his China visit, his office said it had "no further comment".
Fairfax Media can reveal that State Grid Corp's attendance at a roundtable addressed by Mr Baird was omitted from an official report on his trade trip to China last year.
Mr Baird on Wednesday repeatedly refused to detail meetings held during the trip to China last September, which aimed to drum up interest in NSW infrastructure projects.
The Coalition government's plan to partially lease the electricity "poles and wires" and spend the proceeds on infrastructure is the centrepiece of its re-election campaign…..
Under Mr Baird's reforms to political lobbying, ministers are required to publish details of external meetings.
But on Wednesday Mr Baird said the rules did not apply to trips abroad, saying "there's a different process for international trips, that's well established".
A spokesman for Mr Baird later said the Department of Premier and Cabinet had been advised that details of ministers' meetings on official overseas missions "should not be disclosed through the ministerial diary process as there is appropriate disclosure of such meetings through mission reports".
However the mission report from Mr Baird's China trip does not mention a meeting with State Grid Corp.
Asked later on Wednesday why the meeting was omitted, Mr Baird said he had complied with disclosure obligations for overseas trips.
At the news conference he declined to say who else was at the September roundtable meeting.
"I am not going to go into individual meetings. As Treasurer and Premier I met with hundreds if not thousands [of potential investors]. My job is to encourage investment into NSW," he said…..