Showing posts with label corruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label corruption. Show all posts

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

An audit of the funding arrangements for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found they threaten its "independent status"

 

ABC News, 20 October 2020:


An audit of the funding arrangements for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found they threaten its "independent status" because the Premier can "restrict access" to the money it receives.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian ordered a review into funding models of the ICAC along with other key agencies including the Electoral Commission, the Ombudsman and the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.


The Auditor-General Margaret Crawford has handed down her findings, a week after Ms Berejiklian gave evidence to the ICAC which is investigating her former boyfriend and MP Daryl Maguire.


"The current approach to determining annual funding for the integrity agencies presents threats to their independent status," the report concluded.


"The report argues these risks are not mitigated sufficiently under the current financial arrangements."


The Auditor-General also found that the funding was not "transparent" and "there are no mechanisms for the agencies to question or challenge decisions made".


The ICAC, along with the other agencies, receives its revenue through the annual budget process.


But the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) and the NSW Treasury have restricted its funding through "efficiency dividends" and budget-saving measures.


The report says the DPC and NSW Treasury have interpreted legislation so that the full funding approved by Parliament doesn't have to be provided.


"This interpretation leads to the view that a Premier can restrict access to appropriation funding that was approved by Parliament," the Auditor-General found.


The agencies can ask the DPC for additional money to conduct its investigations and the ICAC has made requests on several occasions, mostly to cover large scale public hearings.


The Auditor-General has raised concerns with this model, noting that it’s "the only mechanism available" and "it could be seeking additional funding to investigate a senior government official".


The report found there were no criteria or guidelines for seeking extra funding, so "very little transparency".


"The process available to ICAC to request additional funding outside the annual budget creates further risks to its independence," the Auditor-General said.


"Some of these proposals were rejected without reasons being provided."....


Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Twice in two years Premier Gladys Berejiklian's romantic partner was being investigated by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption and she didn't disclose the relationship - until her name appeared on a witness list


Daryl Maguire and Gladys Berejiklian
IMAGE: The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October 2020

NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), notice, excerpt, 1 September 2020:


Operation Keppel public notice

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) will hold a public inquiry as part of an investigation it is conducting into allegations the former NSW Member of Parliament for Wagga Wagga, Mr Daryl Maguire.

The Commission is investigating allegations that, from 2012 to August 2018, Mr Maguire engaged in conduct that involved a breach of public trust by using his public office, involving his duties as a member of the NSW Parliament and the use of parliamentary resources, to improperly gain a benefit for himself and/or entities close to him. These entities included G8wayinternational/G8wayinternational Pty Ltd and associated persons…….


In Week 4 of the subsequent Operation Keppel public hearings commencing 12 October 2020, NSW Premier & MLA for Wagga Wagga Gladys Berejiklian gave evidence before this ICAC inquiry, starting at 9:40am and ending for the day at 2:58pm.

In evidence Premier Berejiklian revealed she was in a personal relationship with Mr Maguire from as early as July 2014 until sometime after 16 August 2020.

For 19 months of those five years Daryl Maguire was a Liberal Party MLA in her own government, only resigning from the NSW Parliament on 3 August 2018 in the wake of another ICAC investigation, Operation Dasha, during which in evidence he made certain admissions concerning commissions on property development.

In the course of investigations into Mr. Maguire’s conduct a number of telephone call and email transcripts of communications between Maguire and Ms. Berejiklian were revealed that do not show the NSW Premier in the best light.

Calls for her resignation are beginning to appear on social media and both NSW Labor and the Greens have described her position as untenable.

At this point in time the Premier refuses to resign.


BACKGROUND

Operation Keppel Public Hearing Transcript, Monday 12 October 2020, Part 1 at https://www.icac.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/962/12-10-2020%20Operation%20Keppel%20transcript%20pp.%2001348-01437%20from%2009.30pm%20to%201.11pm.pdf.aspx

Operation Keppel Public Hearing Transcript, Monday 12 October 2020, Part 2 at https://www.icac.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/962/12-10-2020%20Operation%20Keppel%20transcript%20pp.%2001438-01471%20from%201.45pm%20to%203.00pm.pdf.aspx


UPDATE

Crickey, The Worm, extract, 15 October 2020:

In the latest updates out of ICAC, the ABC reports that disgraced former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire organised a 2016 meeting with then-treasurer and secret partner Gladys Berejiklian over a major local transport project that, although “vehemently” opposed by the roads minister at the time, went on to receive tens of millions in state and federal funds.

Additionally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Maguire has admitted to using his position to make money; for example, “having a glass of red” was code for an off-the-record meeting with a property developer and the former chief of staff to the then-planning minister, and he admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in cash on multiple occasions at Parliament House as part of a visa scam. 

The paper also reports that the former staff member of Maguire’s who told the inquiry she was instructed to delete material from his electorate and parliamentary offices, Sarah Vasey, is now working for Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. 

Berejiklian yesterday survived two no-confidence motions against her, and, according to the ABC, maintains she had no knowledge of Maguire’s wrongdoing.


Sunday, 4 October 2020

President Trump's Finances: living on borrowed money and avoiding income tax


Ed Wexler

















The New York Times, 27 September 2020:

The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due.

Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.

The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks…...

Read the full article here.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Thursday, 27 February 2020

New Zealand National Party is a riven as its Australian cousin


Rod Emmerson

News Hub NZ, 19 February 2020:

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross is facing charges which carry a prison term of up to seven years if convicted. Name suppression has been lifted for the four people charged by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over donations to the National Party. 

Ross, who made the donation allegations in the first place, is one of them.

The other three are Zhang Yikun, the wealthy Chinese businessman who allegedly offered a $100,050 donation to National; Colin Zheng, Zhang's business partner and prospective National Party candidate; and Hengjia Zheng. 

In a statement made exclusively to Newshub and NZ Herald Ross made a plea, "I was the whistleblower and as a result ever since I have been attacked by the party and its supporters for bringing this matter to the attention of the nation. 

"Some seek to make me out as the bad guy, while that may be convenient spin for the party I will not be the National Party’s fall guy". 

If the case goes to trial Ross is promising to provide evidence to back up his claims, "it will then be clear who is behind any scheme but the public statements from Mr Bridges and the party that they had no involvement is simply not true."....

Read the full article here.

The $100,050 donation in question was made by a NZ-registered company Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry NZ, owned by Chinese billionaire Lang Lin.

Monday, 24 February 2020

‘Grant from Auditing’ dropped ‘Scotty from Marketing’ right in it and the net result is a strong stench of corruption emanating from the Morrison government


New Matilda, 14 February 2020:

Summer rains finally fell on large parts of New South Wales this week. They didn’t fall everywhere, and much of inland Australia is still in drought, but enough rain fell where it was needed to allow weary fire authorities to announce that the New South Wales bushfires were finally contained.

For different reasons, Scott Morrison has also had a difficult summer, so the Prime Minister would no doubt have been pleased the bushfire emergency he so badly mishandled is now receding. With Parliament back and the serious matter of COVID-19 Coronavirus to attend to, Morrison could be forgiven for thinking that February would be the month where the government could regain the political initiative.

But that’s not happening, because the government finds itself mired in a series of corruption scandals.

The key issue, as it has been for weeks now, is the sports rorts affair. As we now know, roughly $100 million in sports grants were distributed in a completely corrupt manner by former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie before the 2019 federal election.

The scandal blew up after the National Audit Office released a devastating report into the orgy of pork barrelling.

The government’s initial response to the Audit was to try and downplay it: a variation of the classic “nothing to see here, folks” line. Morrison himself argued many times that no rules had been broken and that all the projects funded in McKenzie’s dodgy process were eligible.

That approach proved unsustainable, as the media turned its attention to the grants program and uncovered multiple instances of highly dubious decision-making. Huge grants to fancy rowing clubs in Mosman, grants for female change rooms to clubs with no female players, grants to a shooting club that McKenzie herself was a member of, grants that sporting clubs boasted about before even receiving them – the more journalists dug, the worse things seemed.

The Audit report was always going to be difficult to wriggle away from. The report set down, in black and white, a devastating series of findings about the sports grants program.

An established funding program was subverted by a “parallel process” of political decision making inside McKenzie’s office, quite transparently driven by political interest. Questions were raised about the program’s probity by senior bureaucrats, only to be batted away by McKenzie and her staff. A colour-coded spreadsheet was even drawn up, one that had nothing to do with the merits of the funding applications, and everything to do with the Coalition’s re-election strategy.

As former senior New South Wales judge Stephen Charles QC argued, this was not just ministerial misconduct; it was corruption.

So, after weeks of defending her, Morrison bowed to the inevitable and sacked McKenzie. After a hastily convened investigation by Morrison’s hand-picked Secretary of the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens, McKenzie was sent on her way.

On the day he sacked McKenzie, Morrison announced that Gaetjens’ report found that McKenzie had erred, but that the program itself was sound. Exactly how Gaetjens managed to come to that conclusion is something that has puzzled journalists and onlookers. If the program was sound, why was McKenzie sacked for rorting it? And if McKenzie rorted it, how could the program be sound?

Just to make matters more opaque, Gaetjens’ report was never released, with Morrison claiming that it was a cabinet document. He therefore kept it secret. It’s marvellous stuff, this open government business…..

In scathing testimony, Auditor-General Grant Hehir and senior auditor Brian Boyd demolished the government’s position with a few well-chosen lines.

Were all the grants eligible, Senator Eric Abetz asked Boyd? No, answered Boyd.

In fact, as many as 43 per cent were not eligible. Boyd went on to explain why. Some applications were late. Some projects had started their work before they signed the funding agreement. Some had actually finished the work.

As Boyd told the Committee, “If you’ve completed your work, or in some cases — as in this one — you’ve even started your work before a funding agreement is signed, you’re not eligible to receive funding.” Oops.

It got worse. We also found out that the Prime Minister’s office was intimately involved with McKenzie’s office in drawing up the dodgy list of grant recipients. Auditor-General Hehir told Senators there were “direct” communications between Morrison’s office and McKenzie’s, including at least 28 versions of the now-notorious colour-coded spreadsheet that laid out the various sports grants by marginal seat.

The Auditor-General described a process where key advisors from Morrison and McKenzie’s offices haggled over which projects to fund, using the spreadsheet as the basis for their decisions.

To say this looks bad for the Prime Minister is an understatement. He has been caught out in a particularly ham-fisted cover up, one that looks all the more ill-judged now the facts have come to light. Given the level and detail of communication between his office and Bridget McKenzie’s, it’s hard to see how he can plausibly argue he wasn’t privy to the rorts…..

Read the full article here.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Tweets of the Week - #sportsrorts edition


In which the answer to Liberal Senator for Tasmania Eric Abetz's question reveals that #sportsrorts was a fact.


In which Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison cuts and runs after caught misrepresenting the Auditor-General's report concerning #sportrorts

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Morrison's refusal to release the written finding of the Gaetjens investigation into the allocation of Community Sport Infrastructure Grants during the 2019 federal election campaign is raising eyebrows


The handling of the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program during the 2019 federal election campaign - otherwise know as SportsRorts scandal - has already taken the scalp of former Agriculture Minister & Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, after poor personal polling on 12 January  and growing public anger on the release of the Auditor General's adverse report of 15 January 2020 caused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to order an internal investigation into this $100 million dollar scheme.

Ms. McKenzie has been made Leader of the Nationals in the Senate as compensation for the fact that she was forced to resign in an effort to put a lid on the whole affair.

Nevertheless disquiet remains after Morrison refused to release the written finding of the Gaetjens investigation.......

Former head of the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Finance, and Employment and Industrial Relations and currently Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Michael Keating, writing in Crikey.com.au on 11 February 2020:

In my view the Gaetjens’ report reflects poorly on its author.

It would seem on the evidence that Gaetjens has produced a report whose only purpose was to get the government off a political hook.

One suspects that finding McKenzie guilty on the grounds of political bias in her administration of these grants would have implicated other ministers and/or their offices, and therefore she was exonerated on this charge.

However, as head of the public service, Gaetjen’s first duty is to uphold its values and integrity. And as set out in its enabling legislation, the Australian Public Service is meant to be apolitical, serving not only the government but also parliament and the Australian public.

Gaetjens should be setting an example for the rest of the APS — indeed the head of any organisation has their greatest impact on its culture.

My other concern about this sports rorts saga is what it tells us about the prime minister’s attitude to the public service.

As the High Court has found: “the maintenance and protection of an apolitical and professional public service is a significant purpose consistent with the system of representative and responsible government mandated by the constitution”.

But the Gaetjens’ report reinforces doubts about whether Morrison accepts the independence and impartiality of the APS.

Furthermore, this report comes on the back of the Morrison government’s rejection of all the recommendations from the independent ThodeyReview of the APS which would have strengthened that independence, and therefore reinforces that concern.

On 5 February 2020 the Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants to inquire into and report on the administration and award of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program.

The first and, perhaps the only, hearing day is today Thursday 13 February 2020 -  beginning at 4.30pm when the Auditor General Grant Hehir will be giving evidence.

The closing date for submissions is 21 February 2020 and the committee is to present its final report on or before 24 March 2020.
BACKGROUND
Terms of Reference 

1. That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants, be established to inquire into and report on the administration and award of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program, with particular reference to: 
a) program design and guidelines; 
b) requirements placed on applicants for funding; 
c) management and assessment processes; 
d) adherence to published assessment processes and program criteria; 
e) the role of the offices of the Minister, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and any external parties, in determining which grants would be awarded and who would announce the successful grants; and 
f) any related programs or matters. 

2. That the committee present its final report on or before Tuesday 24 March 2020. 

3. That the committee consist of 5 senators, as follows: 
a) 2 nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate; 
b) 2 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate; and 
c)1 nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens. 

4. That: 
a) participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator; and b) participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee. 
c) a participating member shall be taken to be a member of a committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present. 

5. That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy. 

6. That the committee elect as chair one of the members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and as deputy chair the member nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens. 

7. That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant. 

8. That, in the event of an equality of voting, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote. 

9. That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of 3 or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider. 

10. That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit. 

11. That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President. 

12. That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public. 

The resolution establishing the committee is available in the Journals of the Senate No. 37 - Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), Award of Funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Program, Report NO. 23 OF 2019–20, which found:
  • The award of grant funding was not informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice.
  • The successful applications were not those that had been assessed as the most meritorious in terms of the published program guidelines..... 
  • There was evidence of distribution bias in the award of grant funding. Overall statistics indicate that the award of funding was consistent with the population of eligible applications received by state/territory, but was not consistent with the assessed merit of applications. The award of funding reflected the approach documented by the Minister’s Office of focusing on ‘marginal’ electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be ‘targeted’ by the Coalition at the 2019 Election. Applications from projects located in those electorates were more successful in being awarded funding than if funding was allocated on the basis of merit assessed against the published program guidelines.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Political Donations 101: cause and effect 2019-2020


THE CAUSE: Reliance on political donations

Individuals and corporations making large or regular political donations are rarely giving money for philanthropic reasons - they usually want something in return.

Sometimes it is access to a prime minister or premier, sometimes access to a particular minister and sometimes it is a barely concealed bribe in order that the donor gets a specific outcome from a particular government.

The Guardian, 3 February 2020:

The Liberal party received $4.1m from a single donor before the 2019 election, one of the largest amounts in political history, dwarfing former leader Malcolm Turnbull’s $1.75m gift before the 2016 election.

The donations, revealed in Australian Electoral Commission disclosures published on Monday, are second only to the $83.3m donated by Mineralogy Pty Ltd to Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

Both major parties also took significant sums of money from the fossil fuel industry, including multinational giant Woodside, something environmentalists say explains government inaction in the “face of a rolling national emergency driven by climate change”.

The $4.1m donated to the federal Liberal party and its state branches was given in multiple instalments by Sugolena Pty Ltd, a company linked to philanthropist Isaac Wakil, who made his fortune in the clothing industry and invested heavily in property, with his wife Susan, around the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont…..


The Liberals declared $22.6m in donations Labor $18.2m. Total receipts, which include all donations regardless of the $13,800 reporting threshold, other payments, returns from financial investments and loans, amounted to $165m for the Liberals and $126m for Labor.

Australia’s weak donation disclosure system continues to mask a huge chunk of political financing. 

Analysis by the Centre for Public Integrity shows that $1bn in party income has not been disclosed between 1999 and the last reporting year, almost 36% of total party financing.

But the disclosures that have been made continue to show the significant influence of the fossil fuel industry in Australian democracy. Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy, which gave $83,681,442 to Palmer’s United Australia Party, was by far the single biggest fossil fuel donor.

An analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation found a further $1.89m in fossil fuel donations to Australian political parties.

This data explains why even in the face of a rolling national emergency driven by climate change and community demands for change, the government continues to defend and promote the industries that are the root cause of the problem,” ACF’s economy and democracy program manager Matt Rose said.

Serious donations reform is needed now to make sure our political system works for the benefit of all Australian, not just those with the biggest wallets.”

The biggest fossil fuel donor to the major parties was Woodside, Australia’s biggest LNG exporter. It gave $135,400 to Labor, $136,750 to the Liberal Party and $11,190 to the Nationals. The gas industry lobby, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), was also a significant donor. [APPEA donated a combined total of $24,990 to the federal Liberal and Nationals parties]

Prime minister Scott Morrison recently identified gas as a key “transition” fuel for Australia’s economy, saying “we need to get the gas from under our feet”. 

He also recently struck a a $2bn deal with the New South Wales government to increase gas supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector…..

The federal Liberal party also declared two donations from Adani Mining Pty Ltd totalling $50,000….. [the Australian Electoral Commission identified a combined total of $97,300 as donations directly from Adani Mining Pty Ltd to the federal Liberal and Nationals parties]

Carmichael Rail Network, another wholly-owned subsidiary of Adani Australia, gave $50,000 to the federal Liberal party and $100,000 to the Nationals….. [my red annotations]

THE EFFECT: Requirement to fulfil the terms of the unwritten contract between a political party and its donors

Within the 8 months following the May 2019 federal election the Morrison Government acted to benefit certain of its donors in the gas industry sector.

Santos Limited which had donated a combined total of $42,723 to federal Liberal and Nationals coffers in 2017-18 went on to donate another $78,854 in 2018-19, with this result......

According to Lock The Gate Alliance on 31 January 2020:

The ‘energy deal’ announced today between NSW and Federal Governments looks designed to unleash coal seam gas drilling in north-west NSW, threatening drought-affected farmers and allowing Santos to drain 37 billion litres of groundwater.

Crucially, it will do little to bring down greenhouse gas emissions due to its reliance on dirty, polluting unconventional gas.

Media reports indicate the NSW Government has been compelled by the Commonwealth to make a commitment to supply 70PJ of gas for the east coast market in exchange for up to $2 billion in Federal funding for renewable energy and unquantified reduction incentives.

The volume of gas mentioned in the deal is similar to the amount Santos expects to produce at its proposed water-hungry Narrabri coal seam gasfield.

To facilitate the creation of one or more gasfields in north-west New South Wales the Berejiklian Coalition Government held a second hearing into the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas in NSW on 4 February 2020.

As the Berejiklian Government failed to act on the Chief Scientist's original recommendations, this second hearing was a cause for concern......

Lock The Gate Alliance, 3 February 2020:

CSG hearing round 2 must deliver more than just hot air

The holding of a second hearing into the NSW Chief Scientist’s recommendations on coal seam gas in NSW is evidence the Berejiklian Government is not prepared to deal with the repercussions of the destructive industry, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

The hearing, to be held tomorrow, is only happening because the Government was unable to properly answer questions about CSG at the original hearing, held in December last year.

Lock the Gate NSW coordinator Georgina Woods said it was even more crucial than ever now for the Government to answer questions about its forgotten promises on coal seam gas, given the state and federal governments look poised to sacrifice the north west following last week’s energy deal announcement.

It was deeply troubling to watch government representatives scratch their heads when asked basic questions about their oversight of this damaging industry at the last hearing. It demonstrated an alarming lack of attention to the serious risk coal seam gas poses to groundwater in North West NSW,” Ms Woods said.

Last week’s energy deal with Canberra has raised the very real risk that state and federal governments will run roughshod over the facts and heap political pressure on planning authorities to approve Santos’ destructive Narrabri coal seam gas proposal.

This inquiry has shown how unready and unaware the Government is for the environmental, social and economic damage that will inflict.

There is still time to stop Santos’ Narrabri gas project from puncturing holes in a recharge aquifer of the Great Artesian Basin, one of western New South Wales’ most precious groundwater resources. There is still time to make this important area a no-go zone for coal seam gas and safeguard the water resources of north west New South Wales.”

Ms Woods said it was clear from the last hearing that major recommendations made by the Chief Scientist had not been implemented.

The biggest gaps include failure to provide a three-tiered environmental insurance scheme, failure to establish a standing expert committee, and failure to develop systems that can detect cumulative impacts of the industry on precious water resources,” she said.

There are 11 expired and unused legacy coal seam gas licences languishing over the farmland, towns, and precious water resources of the drought-stricken north west that have never been through the Government’s new system for assessing areas for gas exploration.

The NSW Government is leaving farming communities in the north west exposed to unforeseen and irreversible loss or contamination of water resources and other environmental and health impacts from the CSG industry.

We need a reset from the Government that prioritises water security, people, and the needs of future generations and that means stopping the Narrabri gasfield.”

Brisbane Times reported on 3 February 2020 concerning the Adani Group's strategically timed donations:

On April 5, $12,500 was donated to the Liberal Party; that was four days before then-Environment Minister Melissa Price signed off on the groundwater management plans for Adani's central Queensland mine. 

Another $100,000 was donated to both parties in the month after Ms Price gave final federal approvals to the mine.