SENIOR NSW cabinet ministers have been ordered by ICAC to hand-over potentially damning evidence as the Berejiklian government faces comparisons with the corruption-riddled Keneally Labor government.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and possibly Environment Minister Matt Kean have been served section 22 orders, according to The Australian newspaper.
While not under direct investigation themselves, the ministers are believed to hold information that may assist ICAC’s investigation into Premier Gladys Berejiklin’s former boyfriend and government colleague Daryl Maguire.
ICAC’s section 22 notice compels them to hand-over internal government documents.
As the Berejiklin government continues to be mired in allegations of corruption and sleaze, comparisons with the disgraced Keneally government have been made.
Political historian and author Troy Bramston said that while Ms Berejikian had performed well during COVID, she leads a government that has increasingly lurched from “scandal to scandal”.
“The Coalition government looks not much better than the corrupted Labor government led by Kristina Keneally that was annihilated by voters in 2011,” Mr Bramson wrote in The Australian last week.
“Gareth Ward is the latest minister to be stood aside after it was revealed he is being investigated by the Child Abuse & Sex Crimes Squad.
“In March, Nationals MP Michael Johnsen resigned from parliament after being accused of raping a sex worker. He was also alleged to have sent a video of himself masturbating to the same person.”
Sleaze aside, Ms Berijiklian has corruption allegations pouring in at a rate of knots.
“ICAC is investigating allegations of industrial-scale corruption by former minister John Sidoti, who stepped aside from cabinet in 2019,” Mr Bramson said.
Mr Sidoti is alleged to have purchased land at a number of sites that was set to rapidly increase in value due to upcoming government transport projects.
The latest alleged corruption scandal, however, which relates to ICAC’s section 22 notices, involves Ms Berejiklian’s secret former boyfriend of five years and former Wagga Wagga MP, Darryl Maguire.
Mr Maguire is alleged to have conducted a personal lobbying business from his parliamentary office.
According to The Australian, it’s likely that Messrs Barilaro, Perrottet – and possibly Left faction heavy Mr Kean – were requested to produce documents relating to decisions or meetings they had attended, such as the expenditure review committee, where funding was granted to Mr Maguire’s electorate.
ICAC’s public inquiry, which commenced last year, has seen Mr Maguire admit to misconduct in public office.
This has included secretly lobbying on behalf of developers and running a cash-for-visa scheme in which Australian employers would earn a subsidy for pretending to employ Chinese nationals, allowing them to get a visa.
The NSW Keneally Labor government was thrown from office after a string of sexual perversions, corruption scandals and ministerial ineptitude.
It was believed at the time that Ms Keneally was a puppet Premier, put in place and controlled by factional heavies the likes of Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid.
A number of Labor ministers were jailed after her government fell, including Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald and Milton Orkopoulos.PC