The ICAC Ryde Inquiry for Dummies

Understanding ICAC’s Breach Of Public Trust In Shameful Ryde Affair

ICAC’s Ryde investigation debacle wasn’t meant to be easy to follow, compelling or of interest to media. It was designed that way.

And when everyone’s looking away, what you have is a situation where there’s fertile ground for abuse of power and corruption, even by those whose role it is to fight corruption.

ICAC’s Ryde inquiry and how it came about may well be the biggest ICAC scandal you’ve never heard of – the agency’s grand finale in the Ryde matter hits the courts in May 2017, but its concocted case looks set for a spectacular collapse.

The infographic below documents just one part of the disgraceful Ryde affair involving embarrassing ICAC bungles, cover-ups and persecution of the innocent on behalf of a group of bent politicians who continue to ply their trade – from NSW local government level through to the upper echelons of the NSW Government.

Top 10 Songs To Mark Lobbyist/Mayor Bill Pickering’s Red Bathrobe Encore

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We interrupt our deep sleep to update you on the latest efforts by (retired) Major Shamateur* that are “Taking Us For A Ryde” (pun intended) as he persists with a desperate crusade to impose a twin (or more)-towered monstrosity on Ryde’s civic precinct, regardless of what ratepayers think.

This is an inspirational story of determination, focus, ‘world’s best practice’ in dirty politics and a man on a mission to make the world aware of an impending crisis in human rights abuses against property developers. Hugo Halliday, our conflicted but resourceful superstar reporter, threw together this report.

As a lobbyist that’s mainly serviced property developers, Bill Pickering is well aware of the struggles and the discrimination they face on multiple fronts, even when trying to make a valuable contribution to the community – like a high-rise residential tower or 10.

(* For details on why we’ve chosen the ceremonial name of Major Shamateur in this piece refer to the section subtitled ‘As Popular Bowel Cancer: No Local Support? No Worries’)

Picko Picks: Songs To Celebrate A Lobbyist Turned Mayor

We drew upon our global editorial resources to assemble a compilation of songs are most relavant to the personal story of Ryde’s new leader by miscarriage.

In number one spot is a song that carries some sentimental value for Pickering.

Its title, ‘Shamateur’ kicked off an ultra-marathon of rage and malicious dummy spitting by Pickering, angered to be given such an honest one-word character assessment by John Booth, editor of local newspaper, The Weekly Times.

#1 Shamateur

This track by pop-electro group Viola, is titled with the same word the The Weekly Times used to describe lobbyist Bill Pickering in his early days as a councillor. So it has a certain sentimental value. That explains the ‘Shamateur’ part of Pickering’s ceremonial title in today’s article, as part of our conribution to community celebrations. The preceding ‘Major’ acknowledges his military obsession, including saving the planet from an invasion by Shariah Law-abiding aliens, the kind of thing he’ll rants about with remarkable proficiency – with no segue too difficult. In fairness without army analogies or war talk sprinkled throughout his rarely-read blog, it’s hard to imagine he’d want to traverse other topic areas and risk revealing deals or relationships he’s kept under the radar that he thinks no one’s noticed. The lyrics by Viola are cryptic, but those resonating most are: “shamateur, you got what you deserved,” which many decent Ryde people hope they’ll be able to recite to their number one local shamateur, in person, soon.

2. No Lies

An  80s classic by the SOS Band that best represents what the Ryde Community wants from anyone that is given the privilege of leading their city – but from Major Shamateur, it seems sadly, they cannot ever seem to get it. , especially on the issue of the Civic Centre redevelopment fiasco. Only recently, local resident and Newcastle University Professor John Smolders reached the point where he’d had enough of had enough which has become far too personal which ultimately leads to his whole campaign for this disaster simply not passing the sniff test.

3. Barbie Girl

Even though Auburn Council media badboy Salim Mehajer has nothing on Major Shamateur, this is the mock video clip made for his notorious wedding celebrations using the tacky Acqua track ‘Barbie Girl’. It has important symbolism for those in solidarity, fighting for property developers’ privacy by not declaring relationships with them.

4. Shut Up

According to the latest available research, this song by The Black Eyed Peas will cross the mind of members of the public gallery at Ryde Council meetings at least once and up to 10 times, during cringeworthy rants by the Major Shamateur.

5. Dirty Cash

This is the ‘Sold Out Mix’ of 90s Stevie V track Dirty Cash – which I’m sure you’ll agree, goes to the heart of why the public does not trust dirty politicians  – especially those who claim they’re powered by god. You’ll especially see the relevance when you hear the words: “I want to get rich quick”.

6. Tacky

When you do one too many dirty political smear campaign and you are a redkneck bogan who puts yourself before the community, you will at some stage be seen as tacky. And Tacky is one of Wierd Al Yankovich’s more recent send up tracks. Perfect.

7. Corrupt

A track with a self-explanatory title, Corrupt was release by electro megastars, Depeche Mode in 2009. Nuff said.

8. Blurred Lines

This Robin Thicke song from 2013, Blurred Lines, is how a corrupt politician would see the hassle of having to reveal dodgy relationships to constituents. Meanwhile, constituents demand they know – there’s nothing blurred or ambiguous about it. If you’re hiding things from them it’s because you know the consequences – in a democracy anyway.

9. Like A Surgeon

Another Wierd Al Yankovich send up, this time of Madonna’s Like A Virgin. It’s a perfect track to help us remember the Shamateur’s staged knock-out – and within 10 minutes of it happening he had sent out a picture of himself, to all media, lying on a paramedics stretcher. He told journos that he expected to stay overnight for observation – but when he got to Ryde hospital, the medical certificate says there was absolutely nothing wrong with him and sent him home with instructions to take a Panadol if his fake pains persisted.

10. Don’t Lie

Another blockbuster from The Black Eyed Peas that reflects exactly what Ryde’s ratepayers collectively think almost every time Major Shamateur delivers his rants at council meetings, in public and (his party colleagues tell us) at caucus meetings – which are kind of naughty under local government legislation in NSW, where you can’t apparently have a binding caucus vote. But without them, how would we ever be able to celebrate the momentus achievements of Bill Pickering – who has made the transition from lobbyist to Mayor? Think about this for a minute – he would be ruthlessly forced into a democratic vote by ratepayers – and as he argues, it’s hard to see why they should have any sort of say in who leads their local administration, right?  yes?  no? (why are you frowning?)

“Bill Pickering rivals both Madonna and Prince when it comes to reinventing himself. His latest incarnation, DJ Picko, has seen him carry on unabated as a truth remixer and ethical illusionist. He brings hope to others that are completely unsuited to public office – for they know they too can now make the grade” – Hugo Halliday

 


As Popular Bowel Cancer: No Local Support? No Worries

If you’re not into political natter, now’s the time to get off the bus. Or you can hang around and be enlightened.

If there’s something Bill knows well, it’s the unarguable fact that he’s about as popular as bowel cancer and to become “mayor” when you don’t rate a blip in community approval is a big achievement.

He’s employed a simple strategy – make sure Ryde’s ratepayers have no say in it. He fought tooth and nail against a proposal to elect the mayor by popular vote, taking sleazy sanctuary in his more familiar habitat – the dark and dingy backroom.

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The closest thing resembling a dark and dingy political caucus meeting scenario where Major Shamateur is most at home

There, he only has to dupe a handful of Liberal caucus members, not an entire community.

And Ryde Council’s meeting  minutes may well report a Mayoral election was carried out in mid-September according to the rules, transparently, in open session. Surely Major Shamateur won fair and square.

Right? Wrong.

The Dastardly Events No One Seems To Have Realised

Don’t forget the dastardly events in the few years leading up to this and his previous shock elevation, used to change numbers on council, which were 7-5 against his shambolic Civic Centre pet project after the 2012 elections.

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Major Shamateur has accessed the control panel to fine tune the settings, the meter here indicates his regular output level

There’s been smear campaigning, for which he was embroiled in defamation action;  a disgraceful ICAC inquiry solely to eliminate political rivals and serious conflicts of interests – none of which have been disclosed – leading all the way to Macquarie Street.

Let’s hope some of the misinformation is dealt with when the DPP manages to finally get all the evidence ICAC’s hidden as two innocent men continue to face court over purely fictional claims related to the sham ICAC Ryde inquiry, that don’t pass the sniff test.

Postponing Sour Grapes

For now, we’ve put ruthless abuse of power and misuse of public resources to one side.

We’re here to celebrate Major Shamateur’s latest incarnation, ‘DJ Picko’.

He’s been dazzling large crowds of property developers with his signature “truth remixing” and regular acts of “ethical illusion”.  (Note: pic above from his last gig with imaginary fans).

You can just imagine the ‘Carnivale’ atmosphere that has kicked on in Ryde since Major Shamateur scored the red bathrobes, with celebrations ongoing since mid-September and spilling into the streets.

We’re feeling quite guilty at The Star Chamber Inquirer for getting to the party late, so in the spirit of DJ Picko’s new musical endeavours, we’ve assembled selection of tracks to get things buzzing again.

They’re from his upcoming compilation tribute album ‘Undisclosed’ which included his catchy new track “Help The Starving Children – With High Rise On Ryde’s Waterfront”.

Stay tuned for the fanfare when we launch that brilliant collection of musical artistry very soon.

In NSW, ‘ICAC’ stands for something different

The multimedia effort below clearly informs and wraps up a case study of what has sadly become the rule rather than the exception at ICAC. Its Big Kahunas and Chief Wing-pullers know what their cash cow acronym stands for:

INSIGNIFICANT CASES ARE CORE

ICAC chooses easy to digest missions, preferably with something salacious to meet their accomplices’ requirements – usually a cheep and nasty headline to impress the masses.

This is the reality. The solution isn’t to kill off the state’s nasty acronym – but rather, those who’ve overstayed the taxpayers’ welcome and contributed to the evolution of  a rotten culture. But who’s going to do that? A federal anti-corruption commission perhaps?

Supervising the abused of state counterparts is yet another compelling reason for a federal watchdog.

Don’t call it “ICAC” though. It shouldn’t be lumbered with the ‘damaged goods’ of the NSW agency’s brand. In fact, the NSW Government should change its name to gauge its underperformance, undisguised by more prolific, effective and better supervised efforts by agencies of the same name*.

(* ICAC in SA and Hong Kong; and the International Crimes Against Children US taskforce)

 

Almost four long, reputation-smearing years – Jeff Salvestro-Martin finally gets to read a truthful media account of ICAC ordeal

At ICAC you know you’ve made it when, in your hand, you can see the net result of
excessive, unjustifiable use of power, on small, innocent, indefensible creatures.


It’s probably about as good a depiction as any when it comes to gauging the thrill felt among those who pursue flawed investigations within ICAC – using a system of ‘butterfly wing separation’ measurement that’s familiar to its Commissioner Megan Latham, at least.

To be fair though, she stepped into an organisation with an internal culture that began to rot well before she arrived and she needs to stop plucking wings and start clearing out the dead wood around her – because there’s lots.

One simple and unarguable fact: Ryde councillor, Jeff Salvestro-Martin, was dragged through ICAC’s Ryde investigation and public inquiry based on a bungled allegation against six innocent councillors.

Even worse, that bungled allegation was used to strip him of protections from potential reprisals under the Public Interest Disclosure Act due to several referrals of serious, documented and easily provable corruption, ironically involving those it chose to rely on in its evidence – and for those of you who just want that in plain English: ICAC ignored serious, systemic corruption and evidence of it presented in a series of documents, to instead doggedly pursue spurious, vexatious and largely concocted claims by those with a barrow to push.

It has taken a national broadsheet and persistent, experienced and knowledgeable reporting and analysis by The Australian’s legal affairs editor Chris Merritt and senior reporter Sharri Markson to fill the massive void in the Sydney metro media’s coverage of ICAC so you could finally be informed about the unacceptable conduct of the reckless agency.

Often, old and jaded journos will declare themselves worth of the investigative reporter tag – one the had been appropriate in years gone by, but not any more. These are the kind of journos that are letting their newspaper readers down. They are the weakest link and despite media company senior management being constantly accused of diluting the standard of journalism with each and every round of redundancies – the dead wood always seems to escape being cleared out.

It’s these spent cartridges on the editorial floor, easily spotted by their laziness and addiction to rations of ICAC’s magic headline fertiliser, that devalue the media’s important accountability role, relegating it to serve more as ICAC’s insurance against reform.

Ryde councillor Jeff Salvestro-Martin should never have had to endure the public humiliation he was subjected to at the hands of a small clique of corrupt officials whose tendency to resort to personal attacks, dirty tricks, smear campaigns, deception and regular duplicitous behaviour in their dogged pursuit of personal gain at the expense of the communities they supposedly represent, fit the profile of what ICAC is meant to investigate and eliminate.

But beyond simply neglecting their civic duty and responsibility to constituents, those in the clique strayed even further, spectacularly infiltrating decision-making processes of the ICAC, interfering with them and then ultimately using the ICAC as a weapon to eliminate their political rivals and even assume power if they could realise their destructive intent.

It worked a treat. In broad daylight, while everyone simply watched on and apathy anaesthetised the urge to intervene, the clique was easily able to realise what it corruptly set out to achieve.

Despite some obvious hints that something was not right, another three years passed and a still, no one had challenged ICAC’s actions in relation to Ryde.

Surely an ICAC inquiry into six councillors that valiantly fought a controversial twin tower overdevelopment, overwhelmingly opposed by their constituents within the community, was a demonstration of democratic process operating precisely the way it was intended?

And surely a truly independent corruption watchdog would have have no problem identifying those among the six councillors spruiking the redevelopment that had shown clear indications their support for the proposal was fuelled by self-interest?

A corruption watchdog that receives more than 3,000 referrals of corruption each year and time one of its limited resources, would surely reject an in inquiry into the six fighting the development based on it obviously amounting to payback, an abuse of process or vexatious claim?

Surely, just three years after former ICAC Commissioner Ipp sought significant additional funding and carried out an inquiry he cites as one of his legacies, into the risks posed by lobbying and lobbyists, calling on 51 witnesses and handing down 17 recommendations, it would be inappropriate to be led in evidence by a lobbyist/councillor and have his evidence corroborated by his employee, who is also a lobbyist and happens to also be the incumbent Attorney General’s son?

Surely, with the growing pressure over the cases ICAC has been pursuing, it didn’t need a Ryde inquiry in flimsy foundations, if any at all, to exacerbate its woes?

When you swooped to collected Neish’s laptop from Ryde Council premises after learning his office requested the hard drive be formatted – presumably to destroy evidence of his porn downloads – you must’ve had a hunch he was doing something wrong? And not a single mention has been made of it since. Why the determination to conceal this?

If you didn’t know who the bad guys were – either through incompetence or ignorance – perhaps the documented referrals of corruption involving those you’ve entrusted to lead your evidence could have offered a valuable hint.

When you bungled your allegation against the councillors, realised it and quickly removed references to the allegation from public statements, why didn’t you just decide then to let them go as they were being wrongly accused?

Probably the worst thing about the entire Ryde ICAC fiasco – that the agency’s staff, amid a culture of complacency, underperformance, abuse of power, deception and a sense of immunity from the constraints of proper accountability and oversight, had allowed an intrusive and premeditated act of political interference.

They’d shown no sign of dissent, but rather, cooperation to the point they were collaborators, even partners, in this criminal enterprise.

Stay tuned.

Is this too little too late for someone that endured smear and innuendo enabled by an underperforming ICAC and underperforming Fourth Estate.Too little too late? Smear campaign facilitated by underperforming ICAC and failing Fourth Estate?

 

ICAC Takes Credit For Massive FIFA Corruption Bust

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The NSW ICAC claims it was a critical player in the sensational FIFA arrests by US agency, the FBI, over massive-scale corruption.

It says the NSW Government should give it more funding so it can commission an advertising agency to showcase its achievements.

“Look, that’s just what we do at ICAC, we follow the legislation to a ‘t’ and ensure that we’re hot on the trail of “serious and systemic corrution” and FIFA is just one of those globally significant cases we’re handling at any one time,” a source in the sporting corruption area of the agency said.

“It’s incredible how it all came together. A few of the mothers in the office have kids that play soccer and one weekend, there must have been some unusually-deep conversation about corruption and hundreds of millions in bribes to people in an organisation they’d probably never heard of – but they knew it was soccer’s world ruling body.”

“Well, come Monday, all hell broke loose – we had four or five referrals of FIFA Corruption in the bag by 11am.”

According to our deepthroat, ICAC did a preliminary investigation based on what could be ascertained in the public domain and indeed, we found there was probably some funny FIFA business going on.

“But really, nothing that couldn’t be addressed by a series of our educational and preventative corruption workshops,” the source said.

“We passed on our opinion to the powers that be in the NSW Government and since we’ve heard nothing back, I think it can be safely assumed that ICAC’s authoritative global standing and its opinion there was ‘funny business going on” had to be the the catalyst for the FBI’s raids.” the source explained, adding that it’s what should be expected from a well-funded, organised anti-corruption body with a history of massive success.

“That’s why we’ve asked the NSW Government for another ten million dollars for this financial year, so we can stay on the cutting edge of corruption in this graft-riddled part of the world,” the source revealed.

“We need to commission an advertising campaign because we’re never given that much to spend on marketing. Or else we may have to cut back on the good work being done by our people in the Narrative Department.

“Politicians, and the public must understand this – we don’t have rules of evidence, so we can do anything we like to or with evidence. We can photoshop a green wig on the subject of surveillance.

“We – and only we – decide what so-called best practices we bring into our borders. Alright?!! You worthless piece of scum. Umm … sorry. I get so passionate at times.”

The source, laughed as he recalled a panicked NSW Premier Mike Baird being told one of the ramifications of the High Court’s recent Cunneen judgement, including ICAC being forced to apologise and compensate his predecessor and recommend his return to the leadership.

Former NSW Premier Fatty (pre-gastric banding) O’Barrell, fell on his sword after apparently forgetting that he received from a lobbyist, a bottle of wine worth an amount of money that would feed a small African nation for whole year.

Save Ryde believes there was something else big that ICAC promised not to reveal if he went straight away. Those revelations are believed to be linked  to ICAC’s current stadium-filling, life changing, global, balltearing Snack Pack inquiry.

The shocking ICAC exhibit in which the diversity of lollies at the heart of its latest inquiry were exposed (Image; ICAC)

The shocking ICAC exhibit in which the diversity of lollies at the heart of its Snack Pack inquiry were exposed (Image; ICAC)

“How do we avoid this? How do we keep that dropkick out?” the source recalled Premier Baird asking.

Big things came out of ICAC’s Snack Pack inquiry

“Which was followed like clockwork by our Legal Services Director handing him a ready-to-go text for retrospective legislation that just needed an urgent sitting of parliament to be passed.

“Politicians are all the same breed, our top secret internal manual shows you clear how to press their buttons and get your way every time. We really should make it available to developers and lobbyists for a few thousand dollars a pop. That could turn into a handy little supplement to operating cash.”

The former Premier has given the local wine industry an unexpected boost

The NSW Government know that every dollar invested in ICAC is money well-spent, the source said, adding the previous funding boost mid-fiscal year, by former NSW AG Greg Smith, was only enough to upgrade ICAC’s 12 participants in a ‘Corruption and Lifestyle’ conference in Monaco from Premium Economy to First.

Big things came out of ICAC’s Snack Pack inquiry (Image: Save Ryde)

“No seriously, our track record speaks for itself when it comes to unearthing the details that really matter. We brought down premiers, yes. And under the confidential MOU we have have the NSW Government, we get a big bonus for doing that, yes. But he deserved it fair and square,” the source told Save Ryde.

“How do you run a state when you can’t remember gifts like fancy wine and pens. For the battling families out there it’s not on.”

Dumped NSW Attorney General Greg Smith.

Dumped former NSW Attorney General Greg Smith – he played the tunes ICAC loved to “do the jig” to (PIC: BuggerifIKnow)

The source said that pending a reponse on its demand for extra funding, a recent ICAC executive meeting began exploring other revenue raising measures.

“I think we would be of obvious value to companies, political parties and other poltically-charged offices with a kind of masterclass on leaking and obfuscation – we’ve done it for years now and no one’s come after us and the public are none the wiser.’

One of ICAC's recent executive team meetings. ICAC's Code of Conduct precludes staff members from activities that could reveal their identity and expose snouts.

One of ICAC’s recent executive team meetings. ICAC’s Code of Conduct precludes staff members from activities that could reveal their identity and expose snouts.

 

 

A Funny Take On The Pickering “Punch” & Petunia Entanglement By A Rare Competent SMH Journo

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Pretty entertaining, especially Pickering’s comment that “Everything’s OK neurologically”. We’re pleased he’s happy with his self-diagnosis, but from all reports he wasn’t allowed to stay at the hospital long enough to do any self-serve brain scans.

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ICAC Revelations Bring Opportunity To Right Ryde Wrongs

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.

Dumped NSW Attorney General Greg Smith.

Former NSW Attorney General Greg Smith (dumped April 2014) with his fans, singing his way out the ministerial door!

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.

 

Bill Pickering wallowing in the mud again

SMH Infographic on Murky Political web feat Bill Pickering – a lobbyist who amazingly, is also a Ryde councillor and employs the son of former NSW Attorney General Greg Smith, Nathaniel, who’s also a lobbyist/councillor at Kogarah. Where does ICAC stand on this ethical conundrum?

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.