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The Convenient Forgetfulness of Arthur Sinodinos

April 3, 2014

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Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos has come under fire at ICAC for failing to investigate how a company he chaired, the Obeid-linked Australian Water Holdings, was billing exorbitant costs to the state utility Sydney Water.

Giving evidence at the commission on Thursday morning, the stood-aside Federal Assistant Treasurer said he was unaware the company paid almost $75,000 in donations to the Liberal Party.

“You deny knowing the company of which you were [then] deputy chairman was donating to the party of which you were the treasurer?” counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said.

“Yes,” Senator Sinodinos replied.

The commission is investigating claims the family of corrupt former Labor minister Eddie Obeid owned a 30 per cent stake in Australian Water and stood to make up to $60 million from a partnership with the state government.

The 57-year-old senator frequently fell back onto the phrase “I don’t recall” when giving his evidence.

Dressed in a navy pin-striped suit, with his Order Of Australia medal pinned to his chest, Senator Sinodinos nervously chugged his way through several litres of water during his almost three hours in the witness box. He is yet to finish his evidence.

Senator Sinodinos also claimed to be unaware that as of September 2011, the company was in such dire financial straits that it had to go to the family of Mr Obeid for a $400,000 cash injection in order to keep the Australian Tax Office at bay. Senator Sinodinos claimed that, at the time, he was “transitioning” to the Senate. However, he agreed with Mr Watson that he was still a director and therefore owed the company and its shareholders a duty of care.

On several occasions Mr Sinodinos’s barrister, Tony Bannon, SC, stated that the current proceedings were not an “insolvency” examination nor was it an inquiry into director’s duties.

Senator Sinodinos said he could not recollect the then chief executive of Sydney Water, Kerry Schott, warning him in 2010 that he could be keeping “dishonest” company on the board of Australian Water.

“I don’t remember her using the word dishonest,” Senator Sinodinos said.

“That’s a pretty heavy word to use about people.”

The inquiry has heard the company paid $183,000 to a slush fund linked to former NSW Liberal energy minister Chris Hartcher in exchange for favourable treatment by Mr Hartcher.

Senator Sinodinos said he was unaware of the payments.

The former Liberal Party president came under pressure when asked about his workload at Australian Water, where he was paid $200,000 plus bonuses.

“It seems to be that in a year you might be spending between 26 hours and 45 hours a year on Australian Water Holdings’ work, isn’t that right?” Mr Watson asked.

“Does that include travel time? There was an opportunity cost to that time,” Senator Sinodinos replied.

He also faced heated questioning about an agreement for him to take 5 per cent of the shares in Australian Water.

He said the deal “never proceeded” but was shown a letter from his lawyers in February 2013 in which they said he had relinquished his right to the shares.

“I wanted to distance myself from the company. That is the basis of this letter being written,” Senator Sinodinos said.

 

 

 

 

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48 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2014 2:33 pm
  2. Jherek Jagged permalink
    April 3, 2014 2:44 pm

    Looking forward to the Sgt Schultz photoshops in the NewsLtd sheets tomorrow morning

  3. Splatterbottom permalink
    April 3, 2014 3:17 pm

    The letter in the photo is not evidence that Sinodinos ever held shares in AWH. It is evidence to the contrary, that he rejected them. It looks like he may have been entitled to them but relinquished his right to do so.

  4. Splatterbottom permalink
    April 3, 2014 3:38 pm

    Good article on Sinodinos and the Libs by Paul Sheehan today:

    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?”

    Few would believe O’Farrell now. Certainly not the members of the party’s state executive who moved to join lobbying companies. Certainly not the businesses pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into these same lobbying firms. They know the majority of the Liberal members of the NSW government have debts to party powerbrokers who are lobbyists or factionally alligned to lobbyists.

    It is a deviance of democracy when a culture allows half of its peak body to be lobbyists, who then engage in self-perpetuating manipulation of the party constitution. So much so that one of Abbott’s first acts after becoming Prime Minister last September was to announce that party officials would be banned from lobbying his government, saying: “You can either be a powerbroker or a lobbyist, but you can’t be both.”

    The dominant lobbyist faction has been busy creating its own faux grassroots by creating subsidiary party branches. The flaw in the constitution that has been most manipulated is the one-branch, one-vote rule. This rewards the creation of small, stacked branches which are given the same voting weight as larger, organic branches. The more branches that branch-stackers create, the more delegates they control at the state executive. The more delegates they control, the more pre-selections they can control. The more pre-selections they control, the more influence they accumulate. That influence is then sold, as access and advice.

  5. Walrus permalink
    April 3, 2014 5:16 pm

    Much as I hate spending tax payers money I believe the sooner we bring in state funding of political parties and the complete banning of political donations the better off we will all be

  6. Neil of Sydney permalink
    April 3, 2014 5:47 pm

    I find it a little amusing the line being taken by Labor supporters.

    The line is, we may have found a corrupt Coalition politician who is corrupt as our politicians

  7. Splatterbottom permalink
    April 3, 2014 5:51 pm

    I’m more concerned about the influence peddlers (Robber Barons as TB would call them) controlling the party, stacking the branches and raking the cash in. If you’ve had more than a passing involvement with party branches you will know Sheehan is on the money with this.

  8. Tony permalink
    April 3, 2014 7:38 pm

    I find it hard to believe that Sinodinos while treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party wouldn’t have known about any company donating $75,000, let alone one where he also happens to be chairman. To say he didn’t know or can’t remember is blatant and patent bullshit.

    Never believe someone who answers difficult questions with “I don’t recall”. Claiming memory loss is a cynical ploy to provide plausible deniability if and when the truth is revealed.

  9. April 3, 2014 7:41 pm

    Never believe someone who answers difficult questions with “I don’t recall”.

    HEAR HEAR!!

  10. Tony permalink
    April 3, 2014 7:47 pm

    “Senator Sinodinos nervously chugged his way through several litres of water during his almost three hours in the witness box.”

    What they fail to tell us is how long he urinated for when finally released from the box.

  11. April 3, 2014 7:51 pm

    “What they fail to tell us is how long he urinated for when finally released from the box.”

    Thanks Stadium Pal…!

  12. Tony permalink
    April 3, 2014 7:53 pm

    Heehee. (I had to look up what that was.)

  13. public toilet permalink
    April 3, 2014 8:23 pm

    Haha…me too.

  14. egg permalink
    April 3, 2014 8:29 pm

    And me, had a chuckle.

  15. April 3, 2014 8:48 pm

    #go-icac #get`em-all

  16. TB Queensland permalink
    April 3, 2014 8:53 pm

    “You deny knowing the company of which you were [then] deputy chairman was donating to the party of which you were the treasurer?” counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said.

    Incompetent and/or criminal … reminds me of are cent case with a union official … let the courts decide …

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    When you grow up, Kneel, you to will figure out that they are all corrupt or Greens and they are just stupid …

  17. Neil of Sydney permalink
    April 3, 2014 9:03 pm

    “Incompetent and/or criminal … reminds me of are cent case with a union official … let the courts decide …”

    Apparently Sinodinos is not under investigation at the moment. He has been called as a witness to what Eddie Obeid got up to like several other politicians such as K Keanelly, Greg Combet, Doug Cameron.

    But like Craig Thomson he may have done something unethical before he entered Parliament. This may come out during his questioning as a witness.

  18. TB Queensland permalink
    April 3, 2014 9:14 pm

    This may come out during his questioning as a witness.

    Yes, Kneel and once again we shall have to wait any outcome … I don’t think Thomson had such a senior position tho’ …

  19. egg permalink
    April 3, 2014 9:20 pm

    Keanelly could plead ignorance, she was only keeping the seat warm.

  20. Troy Buswell permalink
    April 3, 2014 10:30 pm

    “Keanelly could plead ignorance, she was only keeping the seat warm.”

    Sniff sniff

    Mmmmmmmmmm…………….

    Where is that seat now ?

  21. Walrus permalink
    April 3, 2014 10:54 pm

    Clive Palmer made Ross Garnaut look like an idiot on Lateline tonight and not just once.

    Hilarious and I’m not a fan of Clive

  22. April 3, 2014 11:31 pm

    #Go-Clive 🙂 Mr-Rabbits next.

  23. April 3, 2014 11:35 pm

  24. Jherek Jagged permalink
    April 4, 2014 7:47 am

    Yes Sinodinos should be treated with respect. A guy who was Chairman of a company who gave $70 odd thousand to a party he was concurrently treasurer of and “cannot recall” said transaction should be given the same leeway his party afforded Slipper, Thomson and Gillard.

    Actually, to date, he has been treated ten times better than any of those were.

  25. egg permalink
    April 4, 2014 8:08 am

    ‘Clive Palmer made Ross Garnaut look like an idiot on Lateline tonight and not just once.’

    True but that’s not hard even for a dill like Clive, but its gratifying to know that getting rid of that odious tax is a “fait accompli”.

  26. Walrus permalink
    April 4, 2014 8:50 am

    “…………. should be given the same leeway his party afforded Slipper, Thomson and Gillard.”

    You really don’t get it do you ?

    He’s a witness not a person of interest. At this stage his “crime” is stupidity, arrogance, greed or some of all 3.

    Not like your heroes who are “wanted” for fraud, theft, uttering false documents and sexual harassment.

    But you probably still don’t get it.

    That’s the BIG difference between you a Rusted on Leftwing Nutcase and us so called Rusted on Rightwing Nutcases.

    Most of us are interested in getting Good Government whereas you are just interested in a Leftwing Government pushing your showbag of unfunded causes

    No matter what the consequences and no matter what the cost or the methods to attain them

  27. TB Queensland permalink
    April 4, 2014 9:10 am

    No matter what the consequences and no matter what the cost or the methods to attain them

    I agree Wally just think how much wasted energy, time and money we could save with a flat across the board 25% income tax … and a government sponsored flat rate 7% return super scheme … no need for all those non-productive types in the finance industry … bean counters and blood suckers … 🙂

  28. Walrus permalink
    April 4, 2014 9:19 am

    “… and a government sponsored flat rate 7% return super scheme … ”

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………..would you borrow at 7% from a superannuation fund when you could borrow from a European Bank at 3% ?

  29. Walrus permalink
    April 4, 2014 9:31 am

    I thought our “hardworking”Federal Public Servants were supposed to be environmentally minded anyway.

    In which case the lazy c**ts can pack their own lunch at home and catch a f**king bus to work.

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/paid-parking-in-parliamentary-triangle-workers-chase-big-pay-rises-to-cover-fees-20140403-361ub.html

  30. April 4, 2014 9:38 am

    “pushing your showbag of unfunded causes”

    Like the PPL scheme and religion in schools…?

  31. Walrus permalink
    April 4, 2014 9:42 am

    “Like the PPL scheme “………….”

    It’s a Dead Man Walking that one and Abbott knows it. He’s just going through the motions. And don’t forget it is modelled on PS maternity schemes.

    But I do wish government would go back to being just a safety net and not an income replacement body

  32. Jherek Jagged permalink
    April 4, 2014 9:45 am

    But I do wish government would go back to being just a safety net and not an income replacement body

    Sounds remarkably like the agenda the Gillard Government was pushing, where welfare was a safety net, not a tax churn.

  33. egg permalink
    April 4, 2014 11:11 am

    ‘It’s a Dead Man Walking that one and Abbott knows it. He’s just going through the motions.’

    Agree, although his green army might still get up.

  34. TB Queensland permalink
    April 4, 2014 11:21 am

    Most of us are interested in getting Good Government

    Smarter government perhaps …

    … where’s the logic in outsourcing recruitment (really a Centrelink role)and one person pockets $212 million for doing the governments job …

    It’s a Dead Man Walking that one and Abbott knows it.

    You mean Abbott LIED!

  35. Walrus permalink
    April 4, 2014 11:32 am

    “”You mean Abbott LIED!””

    No…………………..he just wont get it through the new Senate no matter what happens in WA this weekend

  36. April 6, 2014 8:15 pm

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/colleagues-told-dob-in-political-web-posts/story-fnii5s41-1226875635588

    This government are not only regressive, Draconian and hypocritical…they are outright scared of the truth breaking through the wall of deceit. So this right wing apologist for propaganda, lies and corporate agenda masquerading as the shining light of free speech is not outraged by this affront to the civil liberties and frees speech of public servants? Well that’s a surprise…NOT.

    Tim Wilson’s true colors are shining as are the strings of the puppeteers who put this grossly unqualified person in the chair for the convenience of ideology.He best be very very careful what he says in the future as he has dug himself a fucking gigantic contradictory hole as a pubic servant… Dog on a work mate?This is consistent with this divide and conquer mentality of the current government. The directorate of information has spoken as you ere comrades.

  37. April 6, 2014 8:31 pm

    our teabags will get all shrill about so-called `economic-emergency` that Mr-Rabbit and Mr-Eleventy like to promote, will claiming they will still fund rich-womens `birthing` welfare,

    earlier tonight, tv news said that Mr-Rabbit and Mr-Eleventy have `opened` tax-loop-holes for the richest corporations to `save` billions in corporate-tax,

    so here we have our retarded teabag govt starving itself of billions in revenue from the richest, while keeping birthing welfare for the wealthy, while also demanding belt-tightening for the poor and pushing work-till-you-drop, retirement age increasing,

    thought l should mention it to the Lefty`s,
    (as `our` teabags won`t)

  38. egg permalink
    April 6, 2014 8:40 pm

    There is this old fashioned idea that public servants should appear to be neutral, even on the webthingys.

  39. Neil of Sydney permalink
    April 6, 2014 9:03 pm

    Remember when Arbib resigned from the Senate and was replaced by Bob Carr?? Arbib said he wanted to spend more time with his family but maybe there was another reason

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/hsu-boss-michael-williamson-paid-mark-arbib-60k-for-consultancy/story-fn59noo3-1226875219398#

    “FORMER NSW Labor powerbroker and senator Mark Arbib was paid more than $60,000 by the now jailed Health Services Union boss Michael Williamson for a six-month consultancy between leaving his job as the party’s state secretary and taking a seat in federal parliament.

  40. egg permalink
    April 6, 2014 9:04 pm

    ‘that Mr-Rabbit and Mr-Eleventy like to promote, will claiming they will still fund rich-womens `birthing` welfare,’

    It seems to be universally popular, which makes you a political fringe dweller.

    ‘Of course Labor and the Greens will not always oppose the Coalition. The Greens, for example, are the Coalition’s best bet to win passage for Tony Abbott’s generous paid parental leave bill, with some amendments. And it is not uncommon for the major parties to vote together.’

  41. April 6, 2014 10:33 pm

    The only

    so-called `economic-emergency`

    I$ Hokey and Rabbitt are rigging running the books 🙂

    Celebrated academic economist, now Professor John Hewson, employed Abbott as his press secretary and speech writer in 1990.

    Hewson later described Abbott as functionally “innumerate”.

    Former Treasurer Peter Costello described Abbott as a “DLP stooge and economic illiterate”. Julia Gillard described Abbott as an “economic simpleton”.

  42. April 6, 2014 10:56 pm

    ””””””””””’There is this old fashioned idea that public servants should appear to be neutral, even on the webthingys.””””””””””””

    yeah dumpty, l saw that too,

    the coffee-beans over at the coffee-shops must be rollin`on the floor in laughter,

    Mr-Rabbit is `officially` terrified of Miglo

  43. April 6, 2014 10:58 pm

    the Teabag Panic has set in

  44. egg permalink
    April 7, 2014 7:21 am

    ‘Abbott will be forced to negotiate with Clive Palmer on the repeal of the carbon and mining taxes and his signature paid parental leave scheme after the Queensland mining magnate’s multi-million-dollar campaign secured his party another seat in Saturday’s West Australian Senate re-run.

    ‘Mr Palmer — who linked support for the mining tax to the maintenance of benefits to war orphans, has criticised the Prime Minister’s paid parental leave scheme and has called for the abolition of the carbon tax to be retrospective — will control a crucial four-vote bloc when the new Senate sits from July 1.’

    Sid Maher / Oz

  45. Splatterbottom permalink
    April 7, 2014 2:40 pm

    There is something rotten at the heart of Libland:

    The inquiry heard on Monday that AWH and a related firm, Australian Water Pty Ltd, paid $225,000 to a company owned by NSW Liberal Party fundraiser and Australian Hotels Association lobbyist Paul Nicolaou.

    Counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson SC has told the inquiry there is “hard and fast evidence” the money was charged back to Sydney Water as “administrative costs” incurred by AWH as it built sewerage and water infrastructure around the city’s northwest.

    “What work did you do that related to the northwest growth centre,” Mr Watson asked.

    “I didn’t know anything about it,” Mr Nicolaou replied.

    Instead, his work involved providing advice and opening doors, he said, including in Brisbane, where he arranged a meeting between former AWH chief executive Nick Di Girolamo and Mr Newman in the lead-up to his re-election as lord mayor of Brisbane in 2007.

    “The Lord Mayor of Brisbane is happy to see you. The person whom I am liaising with on your behalf would like you to donate the $5k as soon as possible,” he wrote in one 2007 email to Mr Di Girolamo.

    We need a Royal Commission into influence peddling if we really want to clean up politics in this country.

  46. April 7, 2014 4:28 pm

    ”””There is something rotten at the heart of Libland””'(aka-bizland)

    noice of you to notice splatters,
    l thought you could only see `unionland` corruption like yomm,

    as far as l can see, the whole system is pretty fcuked, and will get a whole lot worse for those at the bottom of the `wealth`scale, while the trough-snouts at the top will be able to gobble down much more than they will ever need,

    for me what sticks out is, the amount of times the lowest paid are denied some `micro`amount of a pay-rise, that barely keeps up with inflation, but the same company`s are happy to pay kickbacks via invented fees (finder,completion,introduction,etc) to the greedy pigs.

  47. Splatterbottom permalink
    April 8, 2014 12:04 pm

    “for me what sticks out is, the amount of times the lowest paid are denied some `micro`amount of a pay-rise, that barely keeps up with inflation, but the same company`s are happy to pay kickbacks via invented fees (finder,completion,introduction,etc) to the greedy pigs.”

    Businesses usually pay fees because they think they will get a benefit. They care a lot less about the propriety of the benefit or of the means used to get the benefit. Then there is a whole other category where the shareholders are ripped off so that management can benefit friends or curry personal favour. This type of moral hazard is enedemic to both sides – look at Gillard’s new job. As we see with Sinodinos it crosses party lines – Carr walking out of the Premier’s suite to a directorship with Macquarie Bank.

    Management usually have bonuses riding on keeping costs down which is why they screw the workers at every opportunity. Of course when the system is tilted to give some unionised workers greater bargaining power the distortions go the other way and we get tradies earning $400k.

    At least they are actually working rather than greasing the wheels of the inluence-peddling racket.

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