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It’s obvious who is beholden here, and it isn’t Bill Shorten

On August 30, almost two years after the hearing into prohibited political donations concluded, ICAC released its report on Operation Spicer and it was damning – which probably explains the Coalition’s disproportionate hysteria over Sam Dastyari’s indiscretions.  They seem desperate to avoid scrutiny of their own wrongdoing.

Despite Dastyari’s resignation, Turnbull is going hard on Shorten’s supposed weakness, implying he was too gutless to sack him.

Well let’s just take a step back here…..

Arthur Sinodinis was paid $200,000 a year by Australian Water Holdings for a couple of weeks work because, as a senior Liberal Party office holder, he could “open doors”.

He had a “gentleman’s agreement” with AWH’s chief executive and Liberal party fundraiser, Nick Di Girolamo, in which he was also given a 5% stake in the company.  This shareholding was recorded on his parliamentary pecuniary interest declaration but it was not publicly registered with the corporate regulator.

Despite standing to make up to $20 million if his lobbying efforts were successful, Senator Sinodinos never mentioned to Premier Barry O’Farrell or other ministers that he had “skin in the game”.

AWH donated $74,000 (and possibly more) to the Liberal Party while Sinodinis was on the board of AWH and at the same time party treasurer but he claims to have no knowledge of that.

In early 2013, after Senator Sinodinos relinquished his 5 per cent stake in Australian Water Holdings before it became the focus of an ICAC inquiry, key Liberal fundraisers sounded out major donors to the party about chipping in to buy him a house.  Sinodinis said he had “no knowledge of the plans” which were later shelved.

Senator Sinodinis was one of several former directors of AWH being sued by shareholders for persuading them “to invest substantial sums of money only to squander their investments.”

The day before the case was to be heard in August last year, Sinodinis, who had separate legal representation, made a confidential settlement with the plaintiffs, much to the fury of his co-defendants who were denying the charges.

A fortnight before Senator Sinodinos settled the court case, he amended his declaration of pecuniary interests.  The declaration, dated August 8, 2015, noted a personal loan with the National Australia Bank. It is not known whether the loan was related to the court settlement.

Three weeks after the settlement, Senator Sindodinis was instrumental in ousting Tony Abbott.  Turnbull promptly promoted Sinodinis to Cabinet Secretary.

ICAC heard allegations of AWH’s overcharging and fraudulent billings to Sydney Water, including for political donations.  Nick Di Girolamo has been found to have evaded election funding laws relating to disclosure but, after the review of the ICAC act after its ill-fated attempt to pursue Margaret Cunneen, the High Court essentially concluded that breaching political donation laws could not be found as corrupt conduct under the Commission’s existing powers.

The ICAC found that during November and December 2010 the Free Enterprise Foundation was used to channel donations from prohibited donors to the NSW Liberal Party for the 2011 state election campaign so that the identity of the true donors was disguised.

The Liberal Party received $693,000 in donations in three days from a single donor – the Free Enterprise Foundation – “but no one on the finance committee admitted to knowing anything about it in their evidence”.

In 2009, the year before the ban on donations from property developers came into force, the Free Enterprise Foundation donated only $50,000 to the NSW Liberals.

The report found that there was “insufficient evidence” to conclude that other senior Liberal party officials including now Senator Arthur Sinodinos – then chair of the Liberal Party finance committee – knew of the practice.

Far from being punished for his dubious dealings, which surely fail the “sniff” test, Arthur “I don’t recall” Sinodinis has been well rewarded by a grateful Malcolm Turnbull for his efforts in securing him the top job.

It’s obvious who is beholden here, and it isn’t Bill Shorten.

30 comments

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  1. Adrianne Haddow

    Bravo, Kaye Lee.
    In addition let’s not forgot the LNP politicians in the Hunter, who received so many ‘brown paper bags’ from local developers, that they did not run in the local elections, as penance for their indiscretions, when found out.
    Thank you ICAC.
    The brown paper bag issue was widely known, and the people involved had so little contrition, the major developer responsible for the largesse celebrated his birthday with a “brown paper bag” birthday cake.

  2. Freethinker

    I agree with you Kaye, we all know here this but unfortunately the media do not open the eyes of the majority.
    Looking at the local government elections this Saturday in NSW looks like that people start waking up.

  3. corvus boreus

    Solid forensic article, Kaye Lee.
    A shame that the NSW ICAC has no federal jurisdiction, and that no such national anti-corruption body exists.
    Ah well, on it goes.

  4. Terry2

    Excellent research. Kaye into the murkey sewers of Liberal Party funding : surely nobody can now say that we don’t need an independent enquiry into political donations and party funding,

    Sinodinos and his like sicken me to the core – excuse me, I have to wash my hands.

  5. Kaye Lee

    cb,

    Even with the proven findings of wrongdoing, the high court ruled that ICAC does not have the power to charge people with corrupt conduct for breaching political donation laws which makes a mockery of any proposed reform.

  6. helvityni

    Different strokes for different blokes; the good old Aussie dictum.

    Sinodinos versus Dastyari, Julie versus Julia.

  7. Hotspringer

    I differ; the glaring corruption in the LNP doesn’t, in my eyes, excuse corruption in the ALP. It disgusts me that people like Dastyari besmirch the good name of the party I once revered – the party of Jim Cairns, Tom Uren, Rex Connor, Gough Whitlam – before it swallowed lying neoliberal dogma.

  8. Alan Baird

    Well said Hotspringer.

  9. Kaye Lee

    I make no excuses for Dastyari at all. What he did was unconscionable. Joe Tripodi even worse. As Tony Fitzgerald said, the body politic is rotten, but investigations and reviews and committees run by politicians or their handpicked appointees are never going to clean it up. We need tighter rules that ARE in line with community expectations and legal punishment for people who break them but, instead, they have crab walked away from any accountability.

  10. paulwalter

    I still find it remarkable that Sinodinos somehow turns up a couple of years after stuff that represented corruption in a huge, institutionalised way, as some sort behind the scenes genius.

    Too much of Thomson or Slipper in the way Dastyari has been singled out for $1700 bucks.

  11. Barry

    A Fitzgerald type enquiry is needed at a federal level. If ever such a thing comes about and wrong doing is discovered be it by Lib, Lab, Grn or Ind, gaol them and throw away the key

  12. aortic

    public funding of elections NOW!

  13. jim

    Yea definitely Labor should throw the book at them and stop pissing about.

  14. Michael Taylor

    Jim, it would also help if the media started throwing the book at Sinodinos too. Just one little question might get the ball rolling. Just one.

  15. Peter F

    Kaye, Dastyari was wrong in accepting payment on his behalf, but he did report it to the appropriate authorities. I believe that the LNP have misread the Australian population in gunning for him when they have so many actions where there is more to be exposed. Somehow, somewhere, there will be a relevation.

  16. Wun Farlung

    I have followed this ‘donations’ issue wanting-hoping-wishing for a MSM journalist to make the point contained in Kaye Lee’s article and when they have started heading in (IMO) the right direction the political talking heads have been allowed to respond/get away with words to the effect , it’s the ALP and it’s different because we say so

  17. PC

    All Shorten has to do to show how corrupt Turnbull and his band of Rolex watch wears are is to challenge Turnbull to implement a federal ICAC. Australians will then see how empty this vessel of man Turnbull is.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Wun Farlung,

    I am not sure if it is the journalists’ fault or ours. All of the information came from MSM articles but they very rarely take the time to look backwards and connect things up because there is a view that we want breaking news. They talk about what happened today but rarely connect it to other events. Even when they try, they allow the politicians to just regurgitate today’s talking points deflecting any attention from the past. This whole Dastyari thing has been a deliberate tactic from the Coalition. It happened years ago but they have saved it up for when they needed a diversion.

  19. randalstella

    The whole Dastyari thing was saved up by the Libs because Labor did not stop him, and did nothing about it afterwards.
    They did not prevent it and did nothing afterwards, because…

    Dastyari’s actions are Datyari’s responsibility. And Labor’s.

  20. randalstella

    Exactly correct.
    There are politicians who have very similar views.They are people who usually get nowhere near as much funding; and may get their largest dose of publicity when they are attacked by major Parties and their interests.
    If people are serious on this issue, these politicians can be sought out; and if their other policies are acceptable, they should be supported.
    Otherwise people are not so serious on this very basic issue of integrity and true representation of voters.

  21. paulwalter

    An ICAC?

    Hahahahah…the great and principled heroes of the major parties,

    “See how they smile
    like pigs in a sty
    See how they snide”.

  22. lawrencewinder

    Time to revolt and time for the tumbrils!

  23. jim

    Hey I’m not getting updated posts to my email anymore is it just me? or something more sinister?

  24. helvityni

    I’m into photo gazing this morning. If Mal had his glasses on, he and Arthur would look like brothers…

  25. Gazza boy

    We the people have no real idea what the unions,bikeys, polititions, grubs and other reptiles are doing to us. Sad as it is, Australia is just another Russia,China, Indonesia, Philippines when it comes down to truth and plain honesty.
    Arthur Senadenus is a perfect example. Rob the poor and be rewarded just like the evil banking system we have does and is rewarded beyond all belief . Senadenus is valuable as he knows how to play the system.
    Look at Destari, peanuts and then shot down in flames. Senodenus ripped off hundreds of thousands and rewarded beyond belief.
    All us guys have is 1 vote that is marked with a pencil.
    Pauline Hanson my dear lady. We certainly need you now.

  26. Michael Taylor

    Jim, it’s not just you. A few things stopped working after the WordPress update a couple of days ago, most notably that the emails to notify of new posts are not being sent out nor are the emails to notify of follow-up comments (plus a couple of other less significant things). I can’t say how long it will take to fix the issue but I’m hoping sooner than later. In the meantime I’ll keep pulling my hair out.

    Nonetheless I apologise that this has happened.

  27. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Same here, jim. I haven’t been getting updates for days.

    Fed ICAC with full legal powers now!

    Sinodinos to quake in his boots! And Abbott, and Bronnie Bishop, and Julie Bishop, and Bananaby Joyce, and so on …

  28. Kaye Lee

    “Pauline Hanson my dear lady. We certainly need you now.”

    For what? Hanson’s xenophobic ignorance can only cause harm. The proposals she is putting forward are just ridiculous. A royal commission into the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology because they are in cahoots with Jewish bankers, via the UN, to impose a new world order? A royal commission into whether Islam, one of the oldest religions on the planet, is even a religion? Abolishing the family law court to be replaced by a tribunal of “people from mainstream Australia”? “Guns have always been a part of our culture”?

    Whatever our problems are in the political sphere, Hanson’s racism isn’t the answer.

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