Recent ICAC action triggered by factional pitch battle within the NSW Liberal Party has delivered some good news for the people of NSW – Greg Smith has at last been dumped as Attorney General.
And the tactics of the Liberal Right have been exposed, providing a fresh opportunity to address the monumental mistakes of the Ryde inquiry.
Admittedly, the departure of former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell was a shocking – most probably avoidable – development. But someone had selectively and strategically leaked information aimed at achieving his demise. most probably the Liberal Right.
Premier, Mike Baird, made an immediate, necessary, overdue change – dumping Greg Smith as Attorney General, the portfolio which oversees ICAC.
Somehow, under his watch, the ICAC made some strange operational decisions, most notably pursuing the wrong group of councillors in its Ryde inquiry and seriously bungling information disseminated through public statements and somehow leaked to media prior to the start of the inquiry.
Locals in Smith’s Epping electorate showed him what they thought of him, giving him a bucketing at a recent community meeting, but rather than cop it sweet, Smith proceeded to lecture them. Yet another indication of the ‘born to rule’ mentality of his ‘Religious’ Right factional grouping.
Among the spectacular details reported from ICAC’s latest hearings into the dodgy activities of the Liberal Party was evidence the Liberal Right was more than happy to find ways to wash large illegal donations, with sham companies identified as the vehicle of preference.
Also aired in the inquiry were ‘Black Ops’ activities including midnight missions to rip down posters of political opponents and the practice of vexatious whistleblowing through ICAC by the Liberal Right for the purpose of destroying political opponents and others that get in the way of them making a dodgy earn.
The vexatious whistleblowing allegedly attempted by the Liberal Right’s Chris Hartcher’s office targeting Sydney’s Water’s Kerry Schott, didn’t quite work out.
But vexatious whistleblowing was used in the Ryde inquiry by a Liberal Right clique, with devastating effect. And now that ICAC has tangible evidence of the Liberal Right’s disregard for process, fairness and the law – it should retrace its footsteps with its Ryde inquiry and consider the Liberal Right’s actions to hoodwink it into targeting the wrong Ryde councillors.
We were reminded too that ICAC should have known better and stayed away from the likes of Pickering.
The SMH again reported on the conflicted web of relationships within the Liberal Right clique and reminded readers of Ryde pro-Civic Centre redevelopment councillor Bill Pickering and his mainly-developer lobbying links, close ties with Energy Minister Anthony Roberts, dumped Attorney General Greg Smith and his lobbyist son Nathaniel, who is employed by Pickering.
In other news, ICAC’s latest foray into political shenanigans by the Liberal Party, has claimed hard-working NSW Upper House MP Marie Ficarra.
In fact, Ficarra has been treated quite shoddily by Counsel Assisting Geoffrey Watson. She has had to step aside until ICAC’s Operation Spicer concludes and the NSW Liberal leadership considers any fallout.
There is little chance of ICAC’s smears going to court to be dealt with under proper rules of evidence and so realistically, a criminal conviction from ICAC’s mudslinging is almost impossible.
When it suits ICAC, it seems to accept versions of events from property developers and lobbyists that align with their own favourite version of events. But to dismiss and mock Ms Ficarra’s explanation of events just because its not what they’d like to hear, is disgraceful.
To accept the proposition that a developer was tricked into handing over money for something he didn’t want is laughable. ICAC should talk to a few tradesman and hear their experiences with developers, who don’t hand over
When ICAC summons a witness to a compulsory examination, it gives no notice of what it plans to ask questions about giving the witness no opportunity to be prepared with information references for accuracy’s sake. Instead, the witness must rely on his or her recollection and this opens the opportunity for memory lapses and the potential to mix-up similar events.
Does ICAC have a recording of Ms Ficarra saying what it has decided it thinks she said? No
Well then, does ICAC have a recording of developer Tony Merhi saying to Ms Ficarra what he claimed in his evidence to ICAC?
That Ms Ficarra has amended her evidence suggests her desire to provide an accurate account and nothing else.
The sooner Ms Ficarra – who is probably the only truly talented and experienced MP left in the Liberal Right – can return to her job, the better for her party and the people of NSW.
The latest casualty in connection to the ICAC probe was Newcastle Liberal MP Tim Owen who decided to cut short his political careers. He topped short of falling on his sword immediately, but said he would not contest the 2015 election because it “appears highly likely” that prohibited donors “did contribute in some way to my election campaign” without his knowledge.