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4 Apr 2014

Is Arthur Sinodinos Corrupt?

So 'Inside Tasmania' thinks Arthur Sinodinos is corrupt do they? We say it's far too implausible Sinodinos who was recently the deputy treasurer of Australia, didn't know a company he was chairman of was donating $72,000 to the NSW Liberal Party, that he just happened to be treasurer of at the same time.
'Control freak' Peta Credlin

From Kate McClymont SMH
Despite chugging his way through a couple of litres of Sydney water, no amount of water appeared to refresh Senator Arthur Sinodinos' failing memory as he endured hours of cross-examination over his role in a company at the centre of a corruption probe.

The problem for Sinodinos is that over the four years he was deputy and then chairman at Australian Water Holdings serious corruption was taking place under his nose but he saw nothing, did nothing and asked no questions.

He failed to notice that the company had splashed out $164,000 on a corporate box at Olympic stadium or that it had run up $28,000 in limousine hire. Sinodinos was quick to point out he had only once used a hire car to go to Parramatta. It was the ratepayers of Sydney Water who were being billed for these outrageous expenses which Sinodinos claimed to know nothing about.

The senator claimed that he was too busy ''transitioning'' to the Senate in September 2011 to know that the company was in such dire financial straits it had to tap the family of corrupt former kingpin Eddie Obeid to inject $400,000 to pay its tax bill.

Even harder to believe was that while the company was going to hell in a hand basket it was paying up to $17,000 a month to Liberal Party lobbyists.

One of these was Sinodinos' good friend Paul Nicolaou. Although Nicolaou and Sinodinos saw each other weekly due to their respective positions as the party's chief fund-raiser and treasurer, Sinodinos claims he was unaware that for the three years Nicolaou's company was raking in $5000 a month courtesy of AWH.

''Are you saying to us that Nicolaou not once during that period of time ever said to you, 'Hey Arthur, thanks very much for the retainer'?'' asked counsel assisting, Geoffrey Watson, SC.

''No'', replied Sinodinos.

The senator was similarly unaware that AWH had donated $72,000 to the Liberal Party while he was on the board of AWH and at the same time party treasurer.

The inquiry has heard that the company was billing Sydney Water millions of dollars each year for salaries of its directors, despite there being only 10 employees and one contract.

Sinodinos was defensive about his own $200,000 salary for being a ''door-opener'' and for working what the inquiry heard was less than 45 hours a year.

He protested his travelling time from the CBD to AWH's offices in Bella Vista, in the city's north-west, had not been added in. And what about the times at functions at people's houses that he had promoted AWH? demanded Sinodinos.

''Should we add on 90 seconds over a gin and tonic to the other 45 hours a year,'' quipped Watson.

But perhaps most crushing for Sinodinos was the revelation that his successor, Michael Costa, the former State Labor treasurer, did what Sinodinos failed to do throughout his four years at AWH - go through the company's books.

Costa has told the inquiry he was horrified by what he found.
Click 'read more' to find out about 'control freak Peat Credlin

'Control freak' Peta Credlin accused of pulling Coalition strings

Heath Aston, Jonathan Swan

The tight circle that surrounds Prime Minister Tony Abbott has shrugged it off as a verbal hand grenade tossed by an embittered member overlooked for promotion.
But Senator Ian Macdonald's public accusation that Mr Abbott's office, led by senior aide Peta Credlin, has instilled a culture of "obsessive centralised control" in the government has struck a chord among sections of the Coalition.
Peta Credlin, senior aide to the PM, is the problem, according to a Coalition member: ''She's a control freak and this is feeding into all sorts of things."
Peta Credlin, senior aide to the PM, is the problem, according to a Coalition member: ''She's a control freak and this is feeding into all sorts of things." Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
Rumblings of discontent have been growing since the election win in September.
The strict media control of ministers by the Prime Minister's office has been reported but a bigger irritant for Coalition members and staffers has been a tight grip on appointments by Ms Credlin and the so-called "star chamber" staff appointments panel she heads.
A Coalition member told Fairfax Media: "The level of control is far in excess of the Howard government at its peak. It's Peta Credlin who is the problem, she's a control freak and this is feeding into all sorts of things."
The selection of government members for committees is now being done from "on high", whereas in the past, MPs and senators had been given a level of freedom to sort out appointments among themselves.
"All these things are rigidly coming from Abbott's office. People are not happy," said a member of the government.
A number of ministers have been bruised by dealings with the star chamber, which is made up of Ms Credlin, Liberal ministers Michael Ronaldson and Kevin Andrews, Ms Credlin's deputy, Andrew Hirst, and David Whitrow, the chief of staff to Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss.
Unofficial members are Liberal Party director Brian Loughnane - Ms Credlin's husband - and John Howard's former chief of staff, Tony Nutt, who was hired to oversee the transition to government.
Fairfax Media can reveal that at least a third of Tony Abbott's 19-member cabinet have had senior staffing appointments either knocked back or imposed on them by the Peta Credlin-led appointments panel, known as the "star chamber".
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Senate leader Eric Abetz, Treasurer Joe Hockey, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce have all been overruled by the staffing panel or had senior advisers "imposed" on their offices.
Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos has also had a potential chief of staff vetoed.
Senator Abetz clashed with the star chamber over his intention to retain his longtime chief of staff in opposition, Chris Fryar. Mr Fryar has been kept on rolling short-term contracts as a senior adviser.
Senator Abetz told a Senate estimates hearing last week: "At the end of the day it was decided by the Prime Minister as to who would be appointed to my ministerial staff and to the staff of my ministerial colleagues,"
As revealed by Fairfax, Ms Credlin has insisted that all 420 government staff appointments right down to junior electorate officers are approved by the panel.
In a fiery speech in the Parliament, Senator Macdonald outlined why he was insisting on amending the terms of reference approved by the Prime Minister's office to include a look at zonal taxation and a shorter timeframe for the committee to report.
"I was particularly disappointed as my many inquiries to the Prime Minister's office, which seems to have an almost obsessive centralised control phobia over this and every other aspect of Parliament, responded to me when I kept inquiring with, 'We will let you know when the terms of reference are eventually decided'," he said.
"The terms of reference submitted by the government may be the Prime Minister's office's version of what it was all about, but I have to advise them and my constituents that I will not have unelected advisers in the Prime Minister's office telling elected politicians, who are actually in touch with their constituencies, what should and should not be done."
Before the election, Senator Macdonald was the shadow parliamentary secretary for northern and remote Australia.
When he was informed by Mr Abbott in September that he would not be part of the ministry he described it as "the worst day in his life".
A spokesman for Mr Abbott declined to comment.

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