NSW Premier Mike Baird. Photo: Kate GeraghtyMike Baird has delivered a stern warning to anyone found guilty of wrongdoing during recent investigations by the state’s corruption watchdog: “I’m your worst nightmare.”
The Premier was due to meet newly appointed NSW Liberal party state director Tony Nutt on Wednesday afternoon to discuss evidence aired during hearings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption into allegations of illegal political donations.
The ICAC has heard claims that some of the party’s most senior officials, including finance director Simon McInnes, were complicit in seeking to disguise payments from prohibited donors to bankroll the NSW Liberal 2011 election campaign.
Labor has called on Mr Baird to shut down the party’s main fundraising body, the Millennium Forum, which the ICAC has heard was used to launder banned donations, along with another entity called the Free Enterprise Foundation.
Asked if that was a reasonable demand, Mr Baird said that “what’s reasonable is we need to clean up the culture of politics in NSW”.
“We’ll be taking appropriate responses and we’ll be doing it in a way that restores trust and confidence, not only to the party but to the entire government process,” he said.
Mr Baird’s predecessor, Barry O’Farrell, resigned as premier during a previous inquiry into infrastructure company Australian Water Holdings after giving false evidence in relation to the gift of a $3000 bottle of Grange Hermitage from a Liberal party fundraiser, Nick Di Girolamo.
The hearings focused fresh scrutiny on to the culture of political lobbying in NSW.
Mr Baird said that it was “important that we stamp out the practices that we have seen … I am shocked and appalled by the revelations I’ve seen, not just this week but over the past few weeks”.
Mr Baird said he would not provide a running commentary on the ICAC. ”But I’ll say this: I am determined to clean up events that we’re seeing to make sure they do not happen again,” Mr Baird said.
“I don’t care what political badge you have. If you have done wrong and if ICAC has shown you have done wrong then I’m your worst nightmare.
“I’m going to do everything to restore confidence in the government. I’m going to do everything to restore confidence in the great party I’m part of.
“The actions that we take will be strong, they’ll be swift and the community will see that we’re determined to fix and ensure that events that have been unravelling for many weeks down at ICAC do not happen again.”
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