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Berejiklian survives no-confidence motion by a single vote
New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has survived a no-confidence motion in the upper house by a single vote.
The former Greens MP turned independent Justin Field has just released a statement explaining his decision to oppose the motion. He wants to “reserve judgment” until the Icac has had time to “do its work and fully inform the public and political debate”.
The actions of Daryl Maguire are disgraceful and reflect not just on him but on the political party of which he was a member and a Member of Parliament. The public should and will judge the Coalition and the Premier.
If the Legislative Council is to have a credible role as the House of Review we should exercise our powers on the basis of the most complete information possible. We cannot do that at this time. Pre-empting an independent inquiry by Icac through a political process undermines the standing of the Icac. We should protect those public institutions which protect our democratic systems.
The inquiry has adjourned for the day. Maguire will be back for his second day in the witness stand at 10am tomorrow.
Maguire was told to ‘stay out of it’ after intervening on behalf of developer friend.
We’ve just heard that Rob Vellar, the chief of staff to the then planning minister, Anthony Roberts, told Maguire to “stay out of it” after the former Wagga Wagga MP tried to raise concerns on behalf of his developer friend Joseph Alha.
The Icac has previously heard intercepted phone calls in which Alha told Maguire about “baddies” from local councils in Sydney who he believed had applied for positions on independent planning panels. Alha previously told the Icac he had had “difficulties” with those applicants.
Robertson has just read out emails from Maguire to staff members in the planning minister’s office in which he raised concerns about some of those people.
I’m told there are lot of shifty characters applying, beware Will Robinson.
Given we don’t know who the applicants are I hope you’re joking.
Maguire says he’s not joking, and that “friends are chatting”.
That’s bloody ridiculous, stay out of it.
Robertson puts it Maguire that he was doing this in Alha’s interest, not the public’s.
I think there was a public interest as well.
The meeting was between Maguire, Joseph Alha and Rob Vellar, the chief of staff for the then planning minister, Anthony Roberts. Vellar has previously told the Icac that he was “ambushed” by Alha’s presence at the meeting, but Maguire disputes that.
We’re told Maguire sent Vellar a text message inviting to have “a glass of red” in his Parliament House office after question time.
Maguire says the “glass of red” was code for an “informal” meeting between Vellar and Alha.
He says he discussed the meeting with Vellar on “at least on three of four occasions” and “the code was we’re having a class of red”.
Robertson asks what the “code” suggested.
To tell him Mr Alha had arrived and to come down and have a red and a chat.
As you understood it Mr Vellar was aware if he came to join you in his office for a chat that would be including Mr Alha?
To the best of my recollection, yes.
Maguire admits it was “highly unusual” for Vellar to come to his office for a “glass of red”, and says the intention for the code was “not to deceive” but to keep the meeting “informal”.
Robertson asks if there was “a concern [if] it was a formal meeting it would have to be recorded?”
Robertson asks Maguire if he recalls being asked my Alha to set up a meeting for him with the premier Gladys Berejiklian and the then planning minister, Anthony Roberts.
“It’s possible. I don’t recall but it’s possible.”
So we’re played a telephone intercept from 28 September 2017 in which Alha says “I dunno how you’re going to do it but [I think I should be] privileged to one appointment with Anthony Roberts and Gladys”.
Alha says he wants to “show them my project”.
At the end of the intercept, Robertson suggests to Maguire that he sought the meeting but both Berejiklian and Roberts refused “to have a meeting with a developer over a site-specific” project as a “matter of probity”.
Robertson puts it to Maguire that he then agreed with Alha that they would instead pitch it as a “policy development meeting to avoid concerns over site-specific meetings”.
Meetings with the minister or Berejiklian did not go ahead, but Maguire says he instead arranged a meeting with one of Roberts’s staff members.
Robertson has moved on to Maguire’s long-term friendship with Sydney property developer Joseph Alha. Maguire says he met Alha some 18 to 20 years ago, and agrees with Robertson that he had taken Alha “under your wing and been a bit of a mentor”.
“Yes and him to me,” Maguire says.
Maguire says that over the years he’s helped Alha obtain a number of meetings with ministers and staff “seeking advice over developers”.
Seeking advice with the ultimate view to planning applications in the broadest sense becoming approved, is that right?
The commission has moved onto a potential property development deal Maguire and Maggie Wang pursued in Gladesville in 2014.
The commissioner, Ruth McColl, asks how it came to be that a real estate agent contacted Maguire over a property deal.
We network, politicians network, that’s our lifeblood.
Yes but people don’t normally contact politicians if they want [a] purchase or investor for a property.
Maguire says it was just raised in a general conversation. “Those things are sometimes raised,” he says.
With politicians acting as an intermediary for a purchase of land in Australia?
Robertson has just played an intercept of a phone call between Maguire and a member of an Australian minerals group, Malcolm Roberts.
Maguire introduces himself as the chair of the parliamentary friendship group, and tells the person on the call that he’s been approached by Chinese business people looking to link up with Australian resources companies over new oil technology.
“We’re normally the first port of call for a lot of inquiries with regards to just about everything from the Asia-Pacific countries,” Maguire says.
What Maguire doesn’t say on the call was that he and his business associate Maggie Wang were seeking to make money off the deal. At the end of the call, Roberts offers to make contact with one of Maguire’s staff to send contact details. Instead, Maguire asks him to contact him on his private email.
After the intercept is played, Robertson asks Maguire why he gave out his personal email.
I can’t recall why, sometimes I do.
Wasn’t it because you were [speaking in a] personal capacity and wanted to it keep away from any parliamentary related email addresses?
Robertson asks Maguire whether he is suggesting the meetings he was helping set up for Shenzen businessmen “had any proper association with your role as chair of the NSW parliamentary Asia Pacific Friendship Group.
No, Maguire says, he is not suggesting that.
In particular it breaches [the rules] for using friendship groups for commercial activities?
Maguire then says he also had a “philanthropic” motive for being involved in the Shenzen group. But he concedes no philanthropic projects ever proceeded.
Maguire tells Robertson he doesn’t recall arranging for a Shenzen businessman to meet with the Samoan consul.
So Robertson plays a phone intercept of Maguire and his business associate Maggie Wang discussing the Shenzen businessman having a meeting with the Samoan consul.
Robertson asks Maguire if it refreshes his memory.
It does, he says.
Robertson continues to press Maguire on whether he was hoping to make money personally as a result of his involvement in the Shenzen business group.
We’re played a phone intercept (the first of the day!) between Maguire and his close friend and partner at G8Way International, Phillip Elliott. We hear them discussing a trip to Samoa with a Shenzen businessman who was interested in setting up a casino in Samoa.
Maguire tells Elliott he helped set up a meeting between the Chinese businessman and the Samoan consulate.
He tells Elliott on the call:
They were happy with the meeting so in February I’m going to the Solomon Islands and PNG, I’m going to visit them in the next round and then March is … 10 days in Samoa and they’re bringin’ a dozen business people.
So we’re just teeing up some meetings with the [Samoan] prime minister and other [people] so Samoa is definitely a go.
Elliott then says:
Got to get a bit of cash flow back in the tin.
Before Maguire says:
They’re the kinds of things you should talk about over a barbecue fire.