Showing posts with label Berejiklian Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berejiklian Government. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

It is likely to be tears before bedtime for many regional communities as Berejiklian Government restructures government departments



Government News, 2 April 2019:   
 
The NSW government will abolish key agencies including the Office of Local Government, the RMS and Jobs NSW under sweeping changes to the structure of the NSW public service.

A memo from the Department of  Premier and Cabinet obtained by Government News says the Office of Local Government, along with the Office of Environment and Heritage, will cease to be independent entities and their functions will be absorbed by a Planning and Industry Cluster.

The cluster will cover areas such as long term planning, precincts, infrastructure, open space, the environment and natural resources.

The RMS, coming under the Transport Cluster, will also be scrapped as a separate agency and as will Jobs NSW, which will be merged into the Treasury Cluster…..

Local Government NSW President Linda Scott said the peak would be seeking assurances from the new local government minister, Shelley Hancock, and the Premier, that local governments would be appropriately resourced within the new cluster.

“We’d hope, for example, that the inclusion into a larger cluster will facilitate real analysis of the massive amounts of data collected by Government, which should be shared with the sector to help them deliver great outcomes for the public good,” she told Government News.

“Local governments welcome a new opportunity to work with the State Government to set housing targets with local governments, not for them – to rebalance planning powers by working in partnership with councils and their neighbourhoods on planning decisions that affect them.”

However she said the appointment of Ms Hancock was a stand-alone Local Government Minister was welcomed and had long been advocated for by LGNSW.....

The memo says the structure of the public service will also incorporate the following clusters: Stronger Communities, Customer Service, Health; Premier and Cabinet, Transport, Treasury  and Education.

The following clusters will cease to exist by July 1:  Finance, Services & Innovation; Industry; Planning & Environment; Family and Communities; and Justice.

The Secretaries Board will be expanded in members to accommodate more senior public servants to “effectively drive implementation of the Government’s priorities”.

New appointments under the restructure:
Michael Coutts-Trotter – Secretary, Families & Community Services & Justice
Jim Betts – Secretary, Planning and Industry
Glenn King – Secretary, Customer Service
Simon Draper – Chief Executive, Infrastructure Australia

NOTE:
The Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed will be holding a knit-in on Thursday 4 April 2019 at 1pm to peacefully protest the abolition of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. It will be held outside the electoral office of Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis at 11 Prince Street, Grafton and interested people are welcome to attend.


Sunday, 10 February 2019

And now for some good news......



David Morris, CEO of EDO NSW: Our argument was based on science, economics and – we argued - the proper application of the law. The climate contention as a ground for refusing this mine was innovative; the first time climate change has been addressed this way in an Australian court using the concept of a carbon budget as its basis.
Like so many great ideas – its strength was its simplicity. While there was lots of necessary evidence and discussion about the carbon budget, geopolitical climate policy and Australia’s legal framework for climate change, ultimately our argument was simple:  if you accept the science, then the local legal framework compels you to refuse the mine because it’s clearly not in the public interest to increase emissions.
As Professor Steffen said “it’s one atmosphere, it’s one climate system, it’s one planet - and so we need to start thinking more carefully about the net effect of wherever coal is burnt, or oil or gas… The project’s contribution to cumulative climate change impacts means that its approval would be inequitable for current and future generations”. [EDO NSW, media release, 8 February 2019]

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 2019:

When Planning Minister Anthony Roberts intervened a year ago to give a coal miner the unusual right to challenge its project's refusal in court, neither would have countenanced Friday's outcome.

Instead of settling the future of Gloucester Resources' controversial Rocky Hill coal mine near Gloucester, the NSW Land and Environment Court just cast a cloud over coal mining in general.

The miner had thought it was merely challenging the Department of Planning's rejection of the mine's impact on visual amenity in the bucolic valley around Gloucester.

Instead, the Environmental Defenders Office, acting for residents opposed to the mine, grabbed the opportunity to join the appeal.

In what EDO chief David Morris describes as a "delicious irony", the court got to hear about the project's detrimental impact on climate change and the town's social fabric - despite Gloucester Resources arguing such intervention would be a "sideshow and a distraction".

Future generations will wonder why it took so long for any court in the land to hear such evidence when considering a coal mine project.

But Justice Brian Preston didn't just allow the EDO to provide expert evidence of the role greenhouse gas emissions play in driving climate change. He also accepted it as part of the critical reasons to reject the mine. "The decision forms part of what is a growing trend around the world on using litigation to fight climate change," Martijn Wilder, a prominent climate lawyer from Baker & McKenzie, says. "While early on some of this litigation was not successful, increasingly it is."


Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7, 8 February 2019 judgment here.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

NSW Chief Scientist's interim report re Independent Review of the Impact of the Bottled Water Industry on Groundwater Resources in the Northern Rivers region was due on 1 February 2019


The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte is currently conducting an Independent Review of the Impactof the Bottled Water Industry on Groundwater Resources in the Northern Riversregion of NSW.

As part of the review members of the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer conducted consultation sessions in the area with stakeholders on Sunday 20 and Monday 21 January 2019.

The NSW Coalition Berejiklian Government was scheduled to receive an initial report from the Chief Scientist and Engineer on 1 February 2019.

This date, coming as it did during the period when there is a growing awareness of the ongoing ecological crisis cause by mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Basin water resources by federal and states governments, may explain why there has been no mention made by the NSW Government of this interim report in the media.

However, concerned communities and residents in the Northern Rivers region deserve to have this report made publicly available as soon as possible. Not conveniently hidden away until after the 23 March state election.

BACKGROUND


The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer will provide advice on sustainable groundwater extraction limits in the region, as well as advice on whether the current or proposed groundwater monitoring bores are sufficient.

Local councils have been advised to suspend approving any new applications for water mining until the report is complete in mid-2019.

Since 2017, EDO NSW has been providing advice to clients in the Tweed valley who have concerns about the way in which water bottling developments are assessed, approved and enforced.

Water bottling – the extraction, processing and bottling of groundwater for sale - is controversial, as it can compete with other water users and have adverse impacts on groundwater-dependent ecosystems. These operations also generate considerable plastic waste and the water transport tankers can impact the amenity and safety of people living in rural areas.

With bottling looking set to expand in the Tweed valley, our Legal Outreach team conducted a workshop on water regulation and enforcement in the Tweed Valley to help the community understand and participate in the regulation of water bottling operations. We also drafted several letters to the local council on the approval process for bottling facilities in order to clarify the legal standards in the local environmental plan and the scientific studies needed to support a development application for a facility.  

With our assistance, our client produced a detailed report alleging ongoing and systemic breaches of development consent conditions for four local water bottling facilities and setting out the range of enforcement options available to Council. We then met with Council and briefed Councillors on their powers and responsibilities as the regulator under law. We were able to work constructively with Council to ensure the full range of investigation and enforcement options were understood and since then Council has taken decisive steps to ensure water bottling operations in the Tweed are complying with the law.

The Chief Scientist & Engineer is expected to provide his initial report by early February 2019, with a final report to be published in mid-2019.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Australian High Court rejects NSW Berejiklian Government's 2018 electoral funding reforms


In May 2018 the NSW Berejiklian Government announced plans to cap election-related spending by unions, environmental groups, and churches at a maximum of $500,000. 

The Electoral Funding Act 2018 No 20 came into force on 1 July 2018.


Australian Financial Review, 29 January 2019:

In July 2018, the Berejiklian Government reduced the amount that unions and other third parties could spend in the six months before an election from $1.05 million to $500,000. A political party and it candidates, however, can spend up to $22.6 million if it stands candidates in all 93 seats.

The High Court said NSW proved that aiming to "prevent the drowning out of voices in the political process by the distorting influence of money" was a legitimate purpose.

However, it said "the reduction in the cap applicable to third-party campaigners was not demonstrated to be reasonably necessary to achieve that purpose".

The court did not accept NSW's argument that $500,000 was still a substantial sum that would allow third parties to "reasonably present their case".

The lead judgement of Chief Justice Susan Kiefel and Justices Virginia Bell and Patrick Keane said "no enquiry as to what in fact is necessary to enable third-party campaigners reasonably to communicate their messages appears to have been undertaken".

The reforms also sought to ban third parties from acting "in concert" by pooling money into multi-million-dollar campaigns, such as the "Stop the Sell-off" campaign against energy privatisation for the 2015 poll. Those who breach the act would have faced up to 10 years' jail.

Former Commonwealth solicitor-general Justin Gleeson SC was lead counsel for Unions NSW and the five unions which also signed up for the challenge.

BACKGROUND

HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA, Judgment Summary, 18 December 2018:

UNIONS NSW & ORS v STATE OF NEW SOUTH WALES [2013] HCA 58

Today the High Court unanimously held that ss 96D and 95G(6) of the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981 (NSW) ("the EFED Act") are invalid because they impermissibly burden the implied freedom of communication on governmental and political matters, contrary to the Commonwealth Constitution.

Section 96D of the EFED Act prohibits the making of a political donation to a political party, elected member, group, candidate or third-party campaigner, unless the donor is an individual enrolled on the electoral roll for State, federal or local government elections. The EFED Act also caps the total expenditure that political parties, candidates and third-party campaigners can incur for political advertising and related election material. For the purposes of this cap, s 95G(6) of the EFED Act aggregates the amount spent on electoral communication by a political party and by any affiliated organisation of that party. An "affiliated organisation" of a party is defined as a body or organisation "that is authorised under the rules of that party to appoint delegates to the governing body of that party or to participate in pre-selection of candidates for that party (or both)".

Each of the plaintiffs intends to make political donations to the Australian Labor Party, the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch) or other entities, and to incur electoral communication expenditure within the meaning of the EFED Act. The second, third and sixth plaintiffs are authorised to appoint delegates to the annual conference of the Australian Labor Party (NSW Branch) and to participate in the pre-selection of that party's candidates for State elections. A special case stated questions of law for determination by the High Court.

The High Court unanimously held that ss 96D and 95G(6) burdened the implied freedom of communication on governmental and political matters. The Court held that political communication at a State level may have a federal dimension. The Court accepted that the EFED Act had general anti-corruption purposes. However, the Court held that the impugned provisions were not connected to those purposes or any other legitimate end.

· This statement is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the High Court or to be used in any later consideration of the Court’s reasons

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Another thing for NSW voters to remember as they cast their ballot in the 2019 state and federal elections


The Shenhua Group appear to have first approached the NSW O'Farrell Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government in 2011-2012 concerning its plans to mine for coal on the Liverpool Plains, a significant NSW foodbowl. 

This particular state government was the subject of not one but two investigations by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) - Operations Spicer (2014) and Credo (2014). 

After he was found to have misled the independent commission Premier O'Farrell resigned as Premier in April 2014 and as Liberal MP for Ku-ring-gai in March 2015. Similarly the then NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for the Central Coast, Special Minister of State and Liberal MP for Terrigal Chris Hartcher resigned as government minister in December 2013 after he was named in ICAC hearings and left the parliament in March 2015.

On 28 January 2015 the NSW Minister for Planning and Liberal MP for Goulburn Pru Goward granted development consent for a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned Shenhua Group, Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Ltd, to create and operate an open cut mine on the Liverpool Plains. 

On 4 July 2015 then Australian Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Flinders Greg Hunt ticked off on the Abbott Government's environmental approval for Shenhua Watermark Coal to proceed with its mining operation.

Glaringly obvious environmental risks associated with large-scale mining in the region and vocal local community opposition had led to a downsizing of the potential mine site, for which the  NSW Berejiklian Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government paid the Shenhua Group $262 million in compensation.
ABC News, 31 July 2015, projected new mine boundaries

However, in July 2018 the Berejiklian Government renewed Shenhua’s mining exploration licence.


Given that on the successive watches of the O'Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian governments instances of mismanagement and/or corrupt conduct in relation to water sustainability, mining leases and the environment have been reported one would think that an abundance of caution would be exercised.

Instead we now learn that that Shenhua Watermark Coal has been allowed to vary development consent conditions for the open cut mine on the edge of the flood plain and, it is looking increasingly like pro coalformer mining industry lawyer, current Australian Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Durack, Melissa Price, will wave through these variations on behalf of the Morrison Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government. 

Thereby placing even more pressure on the already stressed surface and underground water resources of the state.

The Liverpool Plains are said to be a significant groundwater source in the New South Wales section of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Lock The Gate Alliance, 8 January 2019:

The NSW Government has allowed mining company Shenhua to alter its development approval for the controversial Watermark open cut coal mine in the Liverpool Plains, near Gunnedah, which will enable work on site to begin without key management plans being approved.

Despite the NSW deal, Shenhua is still not able to commence work under the Federal environmental approval until two important management plans, including the crucial Water Management Plan, have been approved by the Federal Government.

Now local farmers are afraid that the Federal Environment Minister, Melissa Price, may be about to follow the NSW Government lead and vary the approval to allow Shenhua to start pre-construction for their mine without the management plans that were promised.

Liverpool Plains farmer John Hamparsum said, “We’re disgusted that the NSW Government has capitulated to Shenhua yet again, and amended the development consent to let them start pre-construction work without the crucial Water Management Plan in place.

"They have repeatedly stated that the best science would apply to this mine before any work was done, and now they’ve thrown that out the window.

"We’re calling on the Federal Environment Minister, Melissa Price, and New England MP, Barnaby Joyce to now step up and promise that not a sod will be turned on this mine until the full Water Management Plan has been developed and reviewed by independent scientists.

"This mine represents a massive threat to our water resources and our capacity to feed Australia, and if the National Party has any respect for agriculture they need to act now and deliver on their promise that the best science will be applied.

"We won’t accept creeping development of this mine and weakening of the conditions that were put in place to protect our precious groundwater," he said.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, "It’s been four years since the NSW and Federal Governments approved Shenhua’s Watermark coal mine on the Liverpool Plains and there are still no management plans in place.

"Instead of upholding the conditions of Shenhua’s approval, the NSW Government has watered them down so that Shenhua can start work without these crucial plans in place.

"The community has a long memory and will not accept Governments changing the rules to the benefit of foreign-owned mining giants over local farmers," she said.

The former Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, made a strong commitment that a Water Management Plan for the project would not be approved unless the Independent Expert Scientific Committee was satisfied with it.

The amended NSW approval can be accessed here.

A legal perspective on the issues surrounding water management by Dr Emma Carmody, Senior Policy and Law Reform Solicitor, EDO NSW and Legal Advisor, Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, is included in the December 2018 issue of Law Society Journal,  Managing our scarce water resources: recent developments in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

The bad news for NSW North Coast regional communities just never ends


According to the Berejiklian Coalition Government’s Transport for NSW  website: The Community Transport Program (CTP) assists individuals who are transport disadvantaged owing to physical, social, cultural and / or geographic factors.  Individuals who do not qualify for other support programs may be eligible for community transport. CTP is funded by the NSW Government and aims to address transport disadvantage at the local level via community transport organisations.

In the Clarence Valley medical specialist services are rather thin on the ground and residents are frequently referred to medical practices and hospital clinics hundreds of miles away.

For communities in the Lower Clarence where a high percentage of the population are elderly people on low incomes this can frequently present a transport problem, as often there is no family member living close by to assist or the person’s peer friendship group doesn’t include anyone capable of driving long distances.

Community transport has been the only option for a good many people.

Until now…..

The Daily Examiner, 8 January 2019, p.3:

The thought of paying $200 for a trip to see her specialist about her medical condition made Yamba pensioner Gloria George glad she was sitting down when she made the call.

The 80-year-old said when she contacted Clarence Community Transport and was told the price to be taken by car to the Gold Coast for a Wednesday appointment, it could have brought on a heart attack.

Mrs George said CCT told her there was a bus service to the Gold Coast that ran on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for $70.

“My appointment was on Tuesday and the clinic I was booked into was not available on the other days,” she said.

“They said they had made cutbacks and the price to be driven to the appointment was $200.

“I’ve got a bad heart problem and I nearly fell over when they told me.
“Who can afford $200 to go to an appointment?”

Mrs George said she still has a licence, but would not feel safe driving to her appointment.

“I think I’ll be able to get a friend to drive me there and take me home again. I hope so,” she said.

The manager of CCT, Warwick Foster, said the price rise for services had come in when the government cut $250,000 from CCT’s funding when the NDIS came in last year.

“We could no longer afford to operate the bus five days a week,” he said. “And we can’t afford to drive people to appointments for the same fee we charge for the bus service.”

Mr Foster said the government subsidy for transport of $31 a trip created a juggling act for CCT to afford its services.

“Each trip, no matter the distance, is subsidised at $31,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if the trip is across town or to Brisbane, the subsidy is the same....


Saturday, 24 November 2018

Tweets of the Week


Thursday, 22 November 2018

Update on attempt by water raiders from the Murray-Darling Basin to get NSW Government agreement to dam and divert water from the Clarence River system


The NSW Legislative Council Industry and Transport Committee Inquiry report would not go so far as to recommend damming and diverting water from the Clarence River catchment and, the Berejiklian Government would only go as far as "noting' the fallback position held by the water raiders from the Murray-Darling Basin.


Recommendation 40

That the NSW Government consider establishing a stormwater and/or flood harvesting pilot program for flood mitigation in the Northern Rivers.

6.89 The committee heard evidence from some inquiry participants that there may be potential benefits of diverting the Clarence River to the west. These inquiry participants were of the view that there is merit to any strategy that seeks to mitigate floods and flood damage in the Clarence Valley and provide additional water for agriculture in the Barwon region. The committee acknowledges that stakeholders were divided on the issue of water diversion. However, some inquiry participants held strong views against diverting waters from the Clarence River to the west.

 6.90 We also acknowledge the work of local councils in undertaking repair work for public assets and infrastructure and the strain that such labour has on council resources, finances and staff. The committee acknowledges that stakeholders called for the National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements to undergo a review in order to compensate for council resources and staff, the committee supports this idea and recommends the NSW Government pursue this through the Council of Australian Governments.



Expect this issue to be revisted by the Coalition Government if it wins the March 2019 NSW state election.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Whitehaven Coal’s Vickery mine extension community consultation has farmers up in arms

Whitehaven Coal Vickery Forest coal mining operation, 2018


Maules Creek section of coal mining operation, 2018

Whitehaven Coal Limited is seeking planning permission to extend its existing mining infrastructure footprint approx. 22kms north of Gunnedah in north-west NSW, by adding a coal processing hub with an on site coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP), train load-out facility and rail spur line to service its open cut mines at Tarrawonga, Rocglen and Werris Creek.

Quite naturally local rural communities are concerned…….

The Northern Daily Leader, 5 October 2018:

The Greens have condemned NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and called his decision to ignore the plea of drought-stricken farmers “the height of arrogance”.

The spraying follows comments Mr Roberts made to The Leader yesterday, where he referred to the 4000-page Vickery coal mine extension report as a “relatively short document”, as he knocked back the request of farmers for more time to read the submission.

Farmers say they are struggling to find time to read and understand the massive document, let alone write a response to it, when they are hand feeding cattle.
Greens resource spokesman Jeremy Buckingham wrote to Mr Roberts in September, seeking to extend the public consultation time from 42 days to 90 days, however is yet to receive a response.

“Minister Anthony Roberts has displayed the height of arrogance in ignoring local farmers and communities and failing to give them a fair chance of responding to a 4000-page document on Vickery coal mine,” Mr Buckingham said.

“Minister Roberts has failed to acknowledge that many local folks are flat out keeping their livestock and farms alive in drought conditions.

“Local farmers and community members have asked for an reasonable extension of time to read thousands of pages of documents and make a considered response, but the Minister won’t listen.

“What does the NSW Government have to hide on this Vickery coal mine proposal?”...

Sunday, 2 September 2018

PACIFIC HIGHWAY UPGRADE: Time for the NSW MP for Clarence and Federal MP for Page to front their respective ministers and insist this cost-shifting onto local ratepayers does not occur


Clarence Valley Council, media release, 27 August 2018:

Mayor: Jim Simmons LOCKED BAG 23 GRAFTON NSW 2460
General Manager: Ashley Lindsay Telephone: (02) 6643 0200
Fax: (02) 6642 7647

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 27, 2018

Some highway concerns remain for Clarence Valley Council

Clarence Valley Mayor, Jim Simmons, talks with Ulmarra residents today about their concerns about some of the arrangements that will be in place when the new highway opens.

THE Clarence Valley Council will call on the State and Federal governments to address a range of serious safety, access and cost issues related to the construction of the new Pacific Highway.

Council last week agreed to lobby the Deputy Prime Minister (as Minister For Infrastructure and Transport); the Federal Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government; the Member for Page; the NSW Premier; the NSW Minister for Roads; the NSW Minister for Local Government, and; the Member for Clarence in order to have some proposed arrangements relating to the new highway addressed.

Councillors were told there was a planned exit from the new highway at Eight Mile Lane, Glenugie, but it was not designed to cater for B-Doubles. That would mean many B-Doubles wanting to travel into or out of Grafton would have to use the proposed interchange at Tyndale.

Council’s works and civil director, Troy Anderson, said the planned B-Double route to and from Grafton would result in large numbers of B-Doubles travelling along the existing Pacific Highway and through Ulmarra and Tyndale.

“The communities of Tyndale and Ulmarra and all residences in between will still be subjected to significant B-Double movements through their villages,” he said.
“The residents in those areas have expressed concern about safety and noise.”

A further concern was that the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) maintenance of Eight Mile Lane.

“Despite a motorway exit and entry being planned at Eight Mile Lane, there are no plans to change its local road classification, leaving funding for maintenance and any upgrade works up to local ratepayers,” he said.

“From a road safety and capacity perspective, it is recommended this road is upgraded prior to thecompletion of the new Pacific Highway and that required works are funded by RMS not the Clarence Valley community.”

Mr Anderson said that once the new highway was operational, RMS planned to change the classification of the existing highway between Tyndale and Maclean to that of a local road, which would leave Clarence Valley ratepayers responsible for the cost of its maintenance and any upgrades.

“A more logical extension would be to extend the Gwydir Highway through Grafton to Maclean so these two major centres are connected via a State road network,” he said.
“The section of existing highway between Maclean and Tyndale is in poor condition and, being adjacent to the river for most of this section, has significant associated risks.

“A section of the existing highway has previously slipped into the river, causing major disruption and costly repairs. This overhanging burden should not be forced onto ratepayers of the Clarence Valley.

“These matters will create considerable cost shifting to council through necessary road upgrades and increased maintenance.

“In addition, a large number of residents will be still subject to B- Double movements close to their residences and through the villages of Tyndale and Ulmarra.”

A group of Ulmarra residents beside the Pacific Highway as a large semi-trailer passes.

Release ends.



Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Liberals continue to behave badly - Part Four


A Liberal local government councillor and a Berejiklian Government Liberal MP discovered conducting what appears to be some decidedly unparliamentary business by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption during Operation Dasha.

ABC News, 13 July 2018:

New South Wales Government MP Daryl Maguire has resigned from his role as a parliamentary secretary and will now sit on the crossbench after admitting before a corruption inquiry that he sought payment over a property deal.

Mr Maguire stepped aside from the parliamentary Liberal Party after the revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The corruption watchdog is investigating claims of improper conduct by former Canterbury City councillors Michael Hawatt and Pierre Azzi and today heard a tapped phone call between Mr Hawatt and Mr Maguire.

Mr Maguire, the Liberal MP for Wagga Wagga, told the ICAC he pursued Mr Hawatt on behalf of Chinese "friends" from the company Country Garden who he was trying to help get established in Australia.

'3pc is better, if you know what I'm talking about'

In a phone conversation played before the inquiry from May 2016, Mr Maguire said his friends were "mega big with mega money" and wanted to invest in as many as 30 development-approved properties.

Mr Hawatt suggested a $48 million project on Canterbury Road in Canterbury.
In the phone call, Mr Maguire asks Mr Hawatt what his margin is on the property.
Mr Hawatt replies that his margin is 1.5 per cent.

"1.5 per cent divided by two isn't very good," Mr Maguire says.

"Three per cent is a lot better, if you know what I'm talking about."

When questioned by counsel assisting the commission, David Buchanan, Mr Maguire said he had no client or consultant relationship with Country Garden.

But when challenged as to why he was interested in what the margin was on the property, Mr Maguire told the hearing: "It appears I was talking about a dividend."
"Who was the intended person?" Mr Buchanan asked.

"I suspect it was me," Mr Maguire replied.

Daryl Maguire in his electorate.....

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 2018:

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under pressure to explain why she agreed to meet two publicans with criminal records including for arson and attempted insurance fraud and illegally owning poker machines late last year.

The Premier met in late October to “discuss gaming issues” with three publicans in the Riverina and Wagga Wagga Liberal MP, Daryl Maguire, diaries disclosed by her department last week show.

But two of the men present, Gino Scutti and Nicholas Tinning, had criminal histories, it was revealed in Question Time on Thursday afternoon.

The Premier said she did not recall the meeting or answer questions from Labor about whether she retained confidence in Mr Maguire, who brokered the meeting. Mr Maguire is also the Parliamentary Secretary for counter terrorism and corrections…..

Scutti, the former owner of the Carrathool Family Hotel, was convicted in 2013 of burning down his pub three years earlier….. He was handed a suspended two-year sentence and a good behaviour bond for the charges of damaging a property by fire and publishing false information…..

Tinning, who was also present at the meeting, pleaded guilty last April to illegally possessing five poker machines and parts following an investigation by Liquor and Gaming NSW. He was fined $7500 in the same court.

Tinning is a Wagga-based hotel broker.