Sunday 31st of August 2014

not holding water...

not holding water....

The board of the Obeid-linked company Australian Water Holdings considered paying a $1 million bonus to Liberal lobbyist Michael Photios that would not appear as part of a ''formal compensation arrangement'', the Independent Commission Against Corruption has heard.
Documents tendered at the ICAC on Wednesday show the board, including Senator Arthur Sinodinos, resolved to pay Mr Photios $5000 a month for consultancy services.
The board also considered paying Mr Photios, a former NSW Liberal Party vice-president and registered lobbyist, a $1 million bonus ''on financial close'' of a proposed public-private partnership between the company and the NSW government.

A draft motion put before the board on January 27, 2011, resolved that Senator Sinodinos and the AWH chief executive Nick Di Girolamo would ''negotiate with Michael Photios on [the $1 million bonus] … such that it would not form part of any formal compensation arrangement with AWH''.
''I don't know,'' Mr MacGregor Fraser replied.
Mr Watson said it was unclear whether ''Mr Photios even knew that this proposal was there'' and the motion was not passed.
''What could Mr Photios do which led, would lead, to him receiving $1 million?'' Mr Watson asked.
''I do not know,'' Mr MacGregor Fraser replied.
The ICAC is investigating whether corrupt former Labor minister Eddie Obeid misused his political position in an attempt to secure a public-private partnership between AWH and the state-owned Sydney Water, which would have reaped up to $60 million for his family. The inquiry has heard the Obeids had a 30 per cent ''secret shareholding'' in AWH, although the family insists its $3 million investment was a loan.

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damage is done...

Arthur Sinodinos's decision to quit the frontbench while a corruption inquiry takes place is "not in the least bit damaging", Christopher Pyne says, as the Opposition labels the move a "blow" to the Government's budget preparations.

Senator Sinodinos has been called to appear as a witness at a NSW corruption inquiry into Australian Water Holdings (AWH), a company he was involved with before entering Parliament.

He insists he has done nothing wrong and on Tuesday told Parliament he would be "vindicated" once the inquiry is completed.

After initially refusing to step down, Senator Sinodinos yesterday agreed to Labor demands that he give up his frontbench position while the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) carries out its work.

But the Government says losing its Assistant Treasurer seven weeks out from its first budget is not a damaging blow but an example of integrity.

"I don't think it's in the least bit damaging for the Government," Mr Pyne told reporters at Parliament House.

He says Labor had protected former MP Craig Thomson for years, even after serious investigations into his misuse of union funds began.


Yeah .... and the pope is a freemason, while Slipper was not a good friend of Tony Abbott and Pyne is an education minister in disguise, who always reframe the debate with unrelated turds......

Pyne, Abbott and all the front bench of the Abbott Regime should be sacked for telling porkies non-stop...  and for having less heart and being less intelligent than a piece of concrete.

the stench of some political donations...

A Liberal fundraising arm attached to Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey's electorate has been forced to repay another $22,000 in political donations made by a company at the centre of a corruption inquiry.

The North Sydney Forum, which raises political donations for the NSW Liberal Party, repaid $11,000 in February last year when concerns about Australian Water Holdings (AWH), a company connected to disgraced Labor figure Eddie Obeid, first emerged.

Following an inquiry from the ABC about a further donation made by AWH in 2009, Mr Hockey's office has confirmed another $22,000 in political donations has been refunded.

The Government confirmed earlier in the week that it had already refunded $11,000 but at the time made no mention of the further $22,000, which it says has now been repaid.

It brings the total amount repaid to $33,000, which is thought to be the total amount in membership fees paid by AWH to the NSW Liberal Party via the North Sydney Forum.

A NSW corruption inquiry into AWH has already claimed a ministerial casualty, with Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos standing aside as Assistant Treasurer until the ICAC hearing has finished.

Senator Sinodinos was a director and chairman of AWH and he will appear as a witness.

He denies any wrongdoing and says he will "vindicated" after the ICAC heard he stood to gain up to $20 million from his involvement with AWH.

The inquiry has previously heard Mr Di Girolamo falsely invoiced Sydney Water for thousands of dollars in expenses and used the money for Liberal Party donations.

had sinodinos been labor, brandis would have gone apes...

Thus when Sinodinos, formerly the economics adviser, slipped into Morris' shoes all those years ago, he was more aware than most of the price of public office. You hold it only as long as you don't cause problems for your boss, or until your boss needs a fall guy.

The moment Sinodinos' name was uttered in the same sentence as the crooked name Obeid within the cauldron of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, his seat on Tony Abbott's frontbench was placed firmly on the endangered list.

He was Assistant Treasurer. The new government was about to repeal 9000 regulations in the hope of freeing up the economy. And it was preparing its first budget.

The Shorten opposition, having failed to claim the scalp of Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash, was in frantic search of a new target. Labor knew what it was to be burnt to a crisp by the Obeid factor, and here were those flames licking at a Liberal minister.

The government and the PM, in short, needed its Assistant Treasurer on the witness list of an anti-corruption commission investigating Obeid and mates about as much as it needed to discover it had misplaced a zero or two in the calculation of the deficit.

When counsel for ICAC began frothing about a $20-million pay day that awaited Sinodinos if a dodgy deal had gone ahead between Sydney Water and the company of which he had once been chairman, he was more than halfway gone.

No matter that the deal hadn't gone ahead, or that he hadn't enjoyed a multimillion-dollar pay day.

No matter that he wasn't being investigated as an individual by ICAC and that he was simply being called as a witness.

No matter either, that the matter concerned events before he entered the Senate, or that he had denied knowing the Obeid family was up to its bulging wallet in the company of which he had been a director.

It was the vibe.

Worse, Sinodinos' predicament was occupying the front pages. There was a week and half of Federal Parliament to endure before he would get his day on the ICAC witness stand. He didn't need his boss, Tony Abbott, to tell him to step aside.

He needed only to cast his mind back to the day in 1997 when Grahame Morris took the long walk to save his prime minister.

Unsurprisingly, Abbott was effusive in his praise for Sinodinos' own long walk. It was ''the right and decent thing'', done for ''the good of the government'', and he looked forward to Sinodinos returning to the ministry.

Senator Sinodinos has probably seen too much now to believe in happy endings.

..." making sure 'Er Indoors has a crust"...



Those who know Sinodinos say that once he decided to become a senator he had a limited amount of time to make money, and that is why the $200,000 per year on offer from Australian Water Holdings was too good to pass up. Although he was alarmed to find Eddie Obeid's son at the company, Sinodinos has told others he was assured there was no other Obeid involvement. As it turns out, the Obeids purchased 30 per cent of the company in 2010 while Sinodinos was a director. The $3 million the Obeids used to buy in came from the tainted proceeds of a coal deal, which has already been deemed to be corrupt by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Senior public servants also claim to have warned Sinodinos about the extraordinary expenses AWH was charging back to Sydney Water.

Sinodinos also claimed to be unaware that AWH, of which he was a director, donated $75,000 to the NSW Liberal Party, of which he was treasurer. Like the $4 million annual salary bill for the tiny firm, the money for the donations was billed back to Sydney Water, a state-owed utility.

In May 2010 one of the investors in AWH was so concerned he organised a meeting with Sinodinos. Rod De Aboitiz has told the ICAC that he confronted Senator Sinodinos about the extraordinarily high salaries the directors were paying themselves as the company was in financial distress.

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See toon at top...


had become suspicious about how the money was being spent


Mr de Aboitiz told the ICAC that he confronted Senator Sinodinos, then non-executive chairman of AWH and honorary treasurer of the NSW Liberals, in May 2010 about ''out of control'' costs at the company.

He said he was concerned the directors were paying themselves ''extremely high'' salaries and racking up excessive costs. He said he told Senator Sinodinos: ''Arthur, you know that solvency is a big issue for a director.''

Mr de Aboitiz said Senator Sinodinos ''assured me that the board was on top of it''.

Asked if he was comforted by that assurance, Mr de Aboitiz said: ''It's Arthur Sinodinos. Of course I was comforted.''

AWH was then locked in a dispute with the state-owned Sydney Water about $2 million in costs.

Sydney Water had contracted AWH to provide infrastructure in Sydney's north-west and had agreed to cover the costs, but had become suspicious about how the money was being spent. The ICAC has previously heard AWH was billing Sydney Water for chauffeur-driven limousines and more than $75,000 in donations to the Liberal Party.

Mr de Aboitiz said he emailed Senator Sinodinos giving some of the excessive costs. ''At that time there was $20,000 that I think was owing to the Liberal Party,'' he said.

Mr de Aboitiz said there were also payments to ''a company called Eightbyfive'', which was allegedly a slush fund linked to former Liberal minister Chris Hartcher. The fund is the subject of a second corruption inquiry starting in April.

The Australian Financial Review has reported on Friday that the alleged slush fund received $183,342 from AWH while Senator Sinodinos was the chairman or deputy chairman.

Read more:

Gus: As a concerned citizen of this country, I demand a ROYAL COMMISSION IN THE FINANCIAL AFFAIRS OF THE LIBERAL (conservative) PARTY in Australia...


not his expertise in sewage reticulation...

from Mike Carlton...


Shed no tears for Arthur Sinodinos. It was greed and folly that brought him down, a lethal cocktail for politicians at his level, and all his own work.

We can safely assume it was not his expertise in sewage reticulation that hoisted him into the boardroom at Australian Water Holdings, AWH. He was there for one purpose: to leverage the influence he had amassed in his years as John Howard's hatchet man and then Liberal Party grandee in NSW. He would be a direct pipeline to and from the very top of the new O'Farrell Coalition government.

As AWH chairman, Sinodinos was paid $200,000 a year for about 100 hours' work. That's $2000 an hour, a nice li'l earner, Arfur. But the bonanza was to come if the company landed a fat contract to water the new housing estates exploding in Sydney's north-west. The Independent Commission Against Corruption was told he would then hoover up as much as $20 million, a glittering fortune for the son of a working-class Greek immigrant family.

That was the greed, the snout in the trough. The folly came with his choice of associates, witting or unwitting. The touts behind AWH, Messrs Nick Di Girolamo and John Rippon, were paying themselves seven-figure salaries, billed back to Sydney Water, the public utility. Water users - i.e. you and me - were also funding limousines, entertainment and horse racing expenses and - wait for it - hefty political donations to the Liberals. Though he was simultaneously the AWH chairman and Liberal Party state treasurer, Sinodinos would have you believe he had no idea of the money sloshing around under his nose.


And there was a cuckoo in the AWH nest in the lumpy form of Eddie Obeid jnr, who had ''worked'' for the company for three years ; although doing what remains opaque. An Obeid nephew, Dennis Jabour, was also on the payroll. By this time in Sydney - say 2011 - the mere appearance of an Obeid on the horizon should have set the alarm bells ringing. You'd run a mile. But Sinodinos claims he was unaware the Obeids held 30 per cent of the company's shares.

At best, this suggests an insouciant approach to his role as AWH chairman or naivety on an epic scale. In effect, John Howard's former consigliere had become the Obeids' conduit to the Liberals. If that water deal had been done, Fast Eddie would have trousered hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is no suggestion that Sinodinos did anything illegal or corrupt. But he was wheeling and dealing in that dark underbelly of NSW public life that politicians of all sides strive to keep hidden from the mug voters. Eventually the beast consumed him.

When he finally pulled the pin on Wednesday, Howard and Abbott sang his praises, and Soapy Brandis was on his hind legs in the Senate braying about a great Australian.

Tosh. As Assistant Treasurer, Sinodinos' sole contribution to the Abbott government was to rip away Labor's consumer protection for small investors, a handy present for his mates in the big four banking cartel. We are well off without him.

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See toon at top...

ah... the stench of not breaking the law...

From the master of children overboard and tele card, Peter Reith...:


Arthur Sinodinos has had a hard week. But he hasn't broken any law. Not even Labor says he is anything other than a decent honest person and the Independent Commission Against Corruption only wants him as a witness. His problem is not the law courts; it's the court of public opinion. And that has been fed by numerous assertions none of which have been subject to any objective assessment.

He was crucified as soon as the counsel assisting the ICAC linked the names Sinodinos and Obeid. The name Obeid is the most toxic name in politics today. And when counsel also said Sinodinos was possibly in line for a handy windfall of $10 million, or maybe even $20 million, then he was in deep trouble.

He will answer questions in the ICAC. And whatever is said in the ICAC it is still the law in Australia that citizens are innocent until proved otherwise.

But the ICAC is not a court; it's more like an inquisition.



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Well, well, well... Yes, yes yes... it is the law that citizens are innocent until proven guilty... And this applies to all the other people of any political colour — including Thomson (till he was found guilty recently) that the press has been damning for years... So far, if my memory is correct, even someone like Obeid has not been "proven" guilty of anything "illegal" by any court of law, yet... So there...
And the chosen word "inquisition"... Well done, Peter... There is a sense that one is chained to a wooden rack and recant one's heresy to ICAC. I don't know Sinodinos. I never met the guy. But all I know is that he has been like a wind vane in regard to doing something about global warming when the wind was blowing in favour of an ETS and against it when Tony got in... That's politics, I suppose but lousy ethics and a certain misunderstanding of sciences. And Sinodinos has a few other ideas that I don't like, including Work Choices designed to reduce benefits to workers... No hanging offence here but still not good in my books. As well Sinodinos was the architect of the attempt to abolish regulations on financial advice — an attempt now shelved by the Abbott regime yesterday after an outcry from all the "financial" institutions (except the banks) and the little guys associations such as retirees...
Who knows, may be Arthur has fudged a few of his business credit card items like Thomson did? Say for example, flagging a hire car to go to the movies?... Who knows?... ICAC will know... That's what worrying Honest Reith... who got away with no "penalty" for having given his government tele card to his son who racked up a $50,000 bill on it... 
JOHN FAULKNER: The Prime Minister [Howard] doesn't yet understand that this is not a one-off occurrence in 1994 before, to quote the Prime Minister, "Before Mr Reith was a Minister in my government", as the Prime Minister said, but it was an on-going misuse of Mr Reith's official tele-card for five years beginning in 1994. And there's no doubt that this matter's been covered up.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: If it was just about any other Member of Parliament the Labor Party might just go softly, but Peter Reith is no stranger to the big stick and the Opposition Senators, Conroy and Ray, were happy to give a little back.

STEPHEN CONROY: He did not hesitate to call in the balaclava'd
[phonetic] thugs and chained dogs. So incensed was he by their perceived rorts he announced he was launching a book called 'The Fat Little Book of MUA Rorts' and that it would be posted on his Department's website. Yet for five years he's been in breach of his own Award entitlements and it has been kept hush-hush.

Only now has Mr Reith been forced to fess up. Why doesn't he pay back the full amount of money? I mean he's too busy undermining workers' entitlements, negotiating 10 per cent discounts with Hudson Conway off his Melbourne penthouse, or working some twisted ideological framework for sabotaging the Referendum on the Republic. That's what he's been busy about whilst back home, back in his electorate - now a margin electorate, now capable of getting marginal seat funding - he has let $50,000 shoot down the drain. Well, in fact, he should pay the whole amount back and he should pay it back today.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: There's a little irony in all this. After all, who got the money? Telstra did. And it's still 51 per cent government owned, for the moment at least. So it, and therefore we, have recovered about $25,000.

COMPERE: Philip Williams doing some strange mathematics there in Canberra.


klink: "close the gates"... sergeant schultz: "I know nofin...!"

Arthur Sinodinos has denied knowing the company he was deputy chairman of donated about $74,000 to the New South Wales Liberal party he was treasurer of, saying he cannot recall being aware of it and did not know “precise” details.

Sinodinos took the stand at the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing on Thursday as the state watchdog investigates Australian Water Holdings. It has heard AWH was pursuing a lucrative public-private partnership with the NSW government that would have made Sinodinos between $10m and $20m and the Obeid family about $100m.

AWH had a contract with the government-owned Sydney Water, which allowed it to bill the company for expenses. The commission has heard AWH charged luxury accommodation in Queensland, limousine rides and Liberal party donations to Sydney Water.

Sinodinos, now a Liberal party senator, told Icac he was unaware of the donations to the party AWH had made and allegedly charged back to Sydney Water. Sinodinos said he did not know anything “in precise terms” about the donations.

“The issue of donations is matter for the CEO and executive,” he said. “I did not know in precise terms what was being donated to Liberal party.”

Sinodinos said he was aware the AWH chief executive Nick Di Girolamo would attend Liberal party events but he was not aware donations were being made. “I didn’t know amounts or get involved in a board level about donations to the Liberal party,” he said.

Assisting counsel for Icac, Geoffrey Watson SC, asked: “You deny knowing the company of which you were deputy chairman was donating to the party of which you were the treasurer?”

Sinodinos said yes.

When Watson asked if Sinodinos knew in his capacity as treasurer about the donations, he replied he “cannot recollect” being aware of it at the time.

In three hours of testimony Sinodinos repeatedly said “I don’t recall” or “can you repeat the question?” in answer to Watson’s questions.

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So? Not knowing anyfink? Please, remind me what's the role of an AWH chairman? Is it to drink champers, being chauffeur driven in limos, knowing people, with deep pockets, who do not ask questions about the way their cash is spent since the chairman himself does not know, while collecting $547.95 every time the sun rises as one clean shaves in the morning mirror, for the privilege of not knowing anything? I want that job... I'll do it for half. Hey I know people and I can talk elegant bullshit on a one to one basis...

the doorman was employed to give tips for cash...?

My calculation above were way of the mark... of course. As ICAC tells us:

50 hours work


But apparently he "WASN'T ASKED" (to open doors I suppose...)... 

was not asked

(from the ABC website...)


So WHY WAS HE EMPLOYED IF HE DID NOT FURTHER THE INTERESTS OF THE COMPANY???? Of course I am reading it wrong but what the heck?

cashless society...


The Obeid-linked infrastructure company Australian Water Holdings told the state government it was worth up to $200 million when it had $36 in the bank, a corruption inquiry has heard.

Brian McGlynn, who was retained by the NSW Labor government to assess a public-private partnership by AWH, told the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Friday he thought the company "was worth very little".

The inquiry heard that Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos, then deputy chairman of AWH, told Mr McGlynn at a March 2010 meeting that "the jury's still out on you" because he was not supportive of the proposal.

Mr McGlynn said he replied: "I don't do this to be loved. I've got a dog for that."

A cabinet minute drafted by Mr McGlynn, which recommended the PPP proposal be rejected, was allegedly doctored by crooked former Labor minister Eddie Obeid's political allies Joe Tripodi and Tony Kelly.

Mr McGlynn said that whoever altered the minute had used a software program to erase the metadata and history of the document so that the authors of the changes could not be detected.

"It has to be erased, it doesn't just disappear by itself," Mr McGlynn said.

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eddie made sure all sides were swimming in his honey pool...


The NSW Liberal Party has caught the Obeid disease. It is open for business. It is obsessed with money. This is why even its in-house saint, Arthur Sinodinos, who was supposed to clean this house, has instead suffered halo-slip and stepped down from the federal ministry while denying any wrong-doing in a mess that was not of his making. It is why a procession of Liberal lobbyists are due to appear before ICAC. It is why the division which has produced a series of national leaders – Tony Abbott, John Howard, Joe Hockey and Malcolm Turnbull – is tacitly thumbing its nose at all of them.

It is symbolic that the person who replaced Senator Sinodinos as state president of the NSW Liberal Party, Chris Downy, is the chief executive officer of the Australian Wagering Council, yet another lobbyist organisation. Downy was previously executive director of the Australian Casino Association.  Before that he was NSW Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing.

Lobbying by Liberal Party executives has become so ingrained in the state party's DNA that not even Senator Sinodinos was immune from the culture. Nor is his discomfort over.

On Thursday no less than four Liberal Party figures are due to appear before ICAC – Sinodinos and three lobbyists, Michael Photios, Paul Nicolaou and Tim Koelma. This will not be Koelma's only appearance at ICAC. He is also a key figure in the events that led to the resignation of NSW cabinet minister Chris Hartcher last year.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has been over-matched by the dollar DNA of his own state party. Consider this telling moment in the early days of his government, on June 20, 2011, during question time:

Linda Burney (deputy opposition leader): "My question is directed to the Premier. Given that eight of the 18 members of his State Executive are lobbyists, with massive input over Liberal Party preselections, how can the Premier say that his Government's decisions will not be influenced by these powerbrokers and their clients?"

O'Farrell: "We have changed the legislation to strengthen the regulation of lobbyists in this state. How long were those opposite in office? It was 16 long years ... Anyone who believes that employing a lobbyist in NSW will get them special access is wasting their money. Anyone who employs a lobbyist in NSW believing they are going to get a partial decision is wasting their money."

Few would believe O'Farrell now.

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water "boarding" torture at ICAC...

Arthur Sinodinos' political career disintegrated at the ICAC hearings this week, but the ramifications may be far more severe for him than that, reports Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones, who in the courtroom on Thursday.

ON THURSDAY, 3 April 2014, the golden dreams of Senator Arthur Sinodinos were strewn to the four winds in a mist of green fairy dust — the colour of greed, jealousy and money.

Newspaper reports are one thing, the transcripts better, but witnessing the senator’s discomfort live was discomforting in itself. Beautiful body control, calm hands, a flash of irresistible smile, perfect manners. AO badge.

Fairfax’s Kate McClymont and News’Andrew Clennell both noted the Senator was constantly drinking water through his day-long grilling by Geoffrey Watson SC, what they didn’t note was that, while the senator constantly lifted his glass to his mouth, most of the time the glass was practically empty, the senator rarely lifting the glass high enough for the shallow water to reach his lips. Had he been constantly drinking water he would have been squirming with bladder pressure.

(Daily Telegraph cartoonist Warren Morris, predictably, penned a cartoon of Arthur being ‘tapped’ on the head. It was a memory/water joke.)

But it was a tic Arthur couldn’t conceal. He even ran his finger around the inside of his collar a few times. Smooth operators on their game do not do that.

He gave every sign of being overwhelmingly tense.

ICAC is not a court. Court rules do not apply. It is an enquiry where all the players – witnesses, counsel, the commissioner – speak into mikes, the transcripts to be pored over at the commissions’ leisure. And pored over they will be, the inconsistencies explored for possible DPP referral. When I say possible, I mean really possible. Big time.

That’s why so many witnesses had apparent memory failure. There is no law against forgetting.

Arthur’s apparent loss of his upstairs facilities has been well documented and is, by now, widely known. Several times the audience guffawed into laughter in sheer disbelief; Arthur pressed on, sipping air and trying to beam at the commissioner.

Obfuscation. Denial. Memory loss.

These things go to the heart of the Liberal National Coalition.

Peta Credlin, whose political nose cannot be denied, made sure Sinodinos only cracked assistant finance minister to Mathias Cormann even though he can smile more readily, knew John Howard and is, according to Tony Abbott, an"honourable man".

But they knew this guy was off when they hired him.



See toon at top...

while the focus was on water holding, some drank grange...


A prominent Liberal Party fund-raiser and associate of the Obeid family "buttered up" NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell by sending him a $3000 bottle of Grange, a corruption inquiry has heard.

Nick Di Girolamo, a key player in the Independent Commission Against Corruption's inquiry into Obeid-linked company Australian Water Holdings, said he had Mr O'Farrell's mobile number and would call him "once a month, once every couple of weeks".

In his second stint in the witness box, the former chief executive of Australian Water admitted on Tuesday that he sent Mr O'Farrell a bottle of Grange costing $2978 in April 2011, shortly after the Liberal Premier won the March election.

The gift was not declared on Mr O'Farrell's pecuniary interests register.

"That's a $3000 bottle of wine," counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said.

"What were you attempting to secure?"

"My sincere congratulations on finally getting into office after 16 long hard winters in opposition," Mr Di Girolamo replied.

"Did you ever get a thank-you note or a thank-you call?" Mr Watson asked.

"Yes I did. I thought it was a call," Mr Di Girolamo said.

The commission is investigating allegations that the Obeid family were "secret stakeholders" in Australian Water and stood to make up to $60 million from a proposed public-private partnership.

The month following the bottle of Grange being couriered to Mr O'Farrell's northern suburbs home, Mr Di Girolamo attended a meeting with the Premier on May 27, 2011 to lobby him about the proposal.

Former water minister Greg Pearce has given evidence of being summonsed to this meeting and that he was annoyed to find that Mr Di Girolamo had gone behind his back to lobby the Premier directly.

Mr Pearce said he felt like a schoolboy being called to the headmaster's office for not doing his homework.

"I was quite taken aback that it seemed to be so cosy," he said of the meeting.

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Ah, the stench of Grange... Sorry I did not mean it this way... A friend of mine, a dear alcoholic fellow (now dead), went on the straight and narrow because his health was going south and he had a pledge with AA. He could not give up ciggies though... So he offloaded his collection of reds to his good friends...  His two Grange Hermitage were drunk on successive days after the gift by us to great appreciation since they already had about 20 years under the belt... For people (especially overseas folks) who don't know about Grange from Penfolds, one has to say if it's not one of the best wines ever, IT IS the best wine ever made on this earth... But one needs to cherish it with respect and abandon. Anyway I have no idea if Bazza drank his gifted Grange. He might have been on the wagon, though I saw him once or twice lunch a lot with friends at the NSW parliament house "cafeteria" with a bottle of exclusive plonk on the table — way before he became premier... when Bob Carr in his kerosene blue suits ran the show...
See toon at top...


the grange HAD NOT been lost in transit...


The New South Wales premier, Barry O'Farrell, has flatly denied suggestions he wrote a letter supporting Australian Water Holdings in exchange for Liberal party donations.

He also said he did not receive a bottle of vintage Grange wine, bought for $3000 by AWH and allegedly sent by courier to his home just after the 2011 state election.

O'Farrell was on Tuesday questioned before the NSW corruption watchdog about a letter he wrote to then AWH chief executive, Nick Di Girolamo, in late September 2010.

He agreed it was "broadly supportive" of the company's push to secure a lucrative public-private partnership.

"We can show you lots of money going into Liberal party coffers which coincides with this letter of support. Did you know anything about that?" counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson, SC, asked O'Farrell.

"No, the Liberal party's financial code requires members of parliament to be at arm's length from fundraising," O'Farrell replied.

"If your inference is that this letter was signed by me because of donations made by Australian Water Holdings then I reject it completely."

Di Girolamo told the Independent Commission against Corruption he had bought O'Farrell a bottle of Penfolds Grange wine to express his congratulations on securing the premiership but denied using the gift to "butter Mr O'Farrell up".

Icac has heard the 1959 bottle – the vintage the year of O'Farrell's birth – was delivered to his home in Roseville, on Sydney's north shore, on or around 20 April 2011.

But O'Farrell said he had never received it and that he may have been away on a family holiday to the Gold Coast for Easter when the bottle showed up.

"It's the Don Bradman of wine. Unforgettable," Watson said.


But Di Girolamo told the inquiry he had received a thank you call from the premier after sending the wine – and on Tuesday afternoon, O'Farrell was shown a record of a 28-second telephone call from his mobile number to Di Girolamo's, made about 9.30pm on 20 April 2011.

"I've no knowledge – I don't know about this phone call," O'Farrell said. "What I do know is if I had received a bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange I would have known about it and I did not receive a bottle of Penfolds Grange."




If Bazza did not see the vino, most likely someone spirited the (please note, 1959 being our main source of old news papers... Serendipity?) "1959" grange away between here and there... Who knows. A Neighbour? A friend? Family?... 

Ah, the phone call register!... 


It was him... :

Barry O'Farrell resigns after being caught out over bottle of wine
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coal to newcastle or tinkler tripodi soldier eric...

Former NSW Labor minister Jodi McKay wept at a corruption inquiry on Thursday after being told of evidence that an anonymous smear campaign against her 2011 re-election campaign was orchestrated by another former Labor minister, Joe Tripodi, his staffer Ann Wills and mining magnate Nathan Tinkler.

“I believed they were behind it, but that’s the first time I’ve been told that,” McKay said through tears at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (Icac) hearing in Sydney. “I knew they didn’t want me in the seat."

In a dramatic testimony that swung the spotlight back onto Labor sleaze away from the Liberals, the inquiry also heard that former NSW treasurer and ports minister Eric Roozendaal issued McKay with a “subtle threat” over her opposition to plans by Tinkler's business to build a coal loader on the site of BHP’s old steelworks in Mayfield, Newcastle.

McKay also accused the coal baron of making an offer to evade campaign funding laws in order to contribute money to her 2011 election campaign.

During what she described as a "torrid" 2011 state election campaign, McKay, the former member for Newcastle, was the target of unauthorised pamphlets warning voters she supported a coal terminal in Mayfield that would see trucks rumble through the community's streets 24 hours a day. "Stop Jodi's Trucks In Our Streets", the pamphlets said.

The police made enquiries at the time but the source of the material has never been revealed. McKay lost her seat when Labor lost the election.

“I belonged to a very unpopular government,” she said on Thursday, but “I absolutely believe that [the pamphlet] impacted on my election chances, as it was intended to do”.

She broke down when counsel assisting the inquiry, Greg O’Mahoney, told her that Icac “had information” that the smear campaign was engineered by Tripodi, Wills and the Tinkler Group.

“I felt that they wanted me out of the seat because I wouldn’t do what they wanted me to do,” McKay said. “They couldn’t control me and they didn’t want me in the seat.”

infantile black ops...


What a pack of clowns they are. What a bunch of jumped-up nongs they must have been. The Liberal Party back-room apparatchiks now parading before the Independent Commission Against Corruption are revealed, at last, in all their infantile stupidity.

"Yay black ops !" cries Tim Koelma, a pudgy Young Liberal and staffer to the soon-to-be-disgraced former state minister Chris Hartcher. He is emailing his brother, Eric, about a scheme to wreck the career of former Sydney Water chief executive Dr Kerry Schott.

"Black ops" are also a fantasy for another of these Hartcher twerps, Aaron Henry, whose idea of a wizard jape was to skulk about at night with a ladder, slashing the election posters of political opponents.

"It's a light-hearted thing in order to help keep Young Liberals engaged," he assured the ICAC.

Counsel assisting, Geoffrey Watson, SC, found this hard to believe and no wonder. Zap blam, politics as an Xbox game.

But beneath all the hilarity, there was some seriously nasty stuff afoot. The conspiracy to destroy Schott was as vile as it gets.

In a nutshell, her great sin was to stand between the infamous Eddie Obeid & Co and a big bag of money, hundreds of millions of dollars. As the head of Sydney Water from 2008 to 2011, she was battling to stop the Obeids and their cronies getting their paws on lucrative contracts for their shonky shell company, Australian Water Holdings.

Bizarre schemes were hatched to besmirch her. Lies were concocted to bring her down. According to evidence before the ICAC, the lawyer and businessman Nick Di Girolamo, donor of that notorious bottle of '59 Grange to Barry O'Farrell, was one of the conspirators. The Liberal Party bagman and lobbyist Paul Nicolaou was allegedly another. The ICAC heard that he had fired off an email to Alan Jones asking him to savage her on his radio show.

Curious, I made some inquiries about Schott. She turns out to be an extraordinary woman. The doctorate is in pure mathematics from Oxford. An economist by trade, she has been a merchant banker, working in her early years for Malcolm Turnbull and later as the local boss of Deutsche Bank. She was a visiting professor at Oxford and Princeton, a senior NSW Treasury official, chairwoman of the Environmental Protection Authority, an adviser to the Reserve Bank and a trade practices commissioner. Now in semi-retirement, she is on the boards of Macquarie University and the National Broadband Network.

Turnbull sang her praises when I spoke to him this week. "She's outstanding," he said. "A woman of enormous integrity and great ability. You may quote me on that."

And that assessment cuts across party lines. Michael Egan, former Labor state treasurer and now chancellor of Macquarie University, gave her a similar big rap. So, too, did Bob Carr. The current Premier, Mike Baird, appointed her to audit the books when the Coalition came to power in 2011.

This, then, is the measure of the distinguished public servant that this gang of tiny minds was seeking to ruin. It is incredible that they thought they could get away with it.

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