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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Arthur Sinodinos should stand down

Arthur Sinodinos

Liberal Party members are looking sillier by the minute, falling over themselves repeating over and over again, how Sinodinos is as honest as the day is long, of the highest integrity, beyond reproach, etc, etc.

Just because he was John Howard's right hand man doesn't make him a saint and Tony Abbott should insist he stand down until all suspicions have been removed.  If ICAC mentioned his name in the same sentence as Eddie Obeid, we know he's in trouble. Something here is well and truly on the nose. 

Eddie Obeid

ICAC allege that Arthur Sinodinos was offered up to $20 million to use his Liberal Party connections to secure a contract with the NSW Liberal government.

As a close confidant of former Prime Minister John Howard, Sinodinos was once regarded as one of the most powerful men in the country. Born in Newcastle to Greek parents, his father was a staunch supporter of the Seaman's Union and he was an unlikely candidate for the conservative side of politics.

When an inquiry began into Australian Water Holdings, ICAC discovered that bribery and corruption was rampant on both sides of politics.  Even though the deal didn't eventuate, ICAC still feel that Mr Sinodinos has some questions to answer.

In an opening address to the inquiry, it was alleged that Mr Sinodinos' "true role in Australian Water Holdings was to open lines of communication with the Liberal Party" and "stood to gain a $10-20 million payday" if his lobbying efforts were successful.  At the time, Sinodinos was treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party before being appointed to the Senate in 2011.

The inquiry is looking into Australian Water Chief Executive and Liberal Party donor Nick Di Girolamo's efforts to win a contract which would net AWH shareholders $100-$200 million. ICAC alleges that Di Girolamo siphoned off payments meant for water infrastructure to the Liberal Party to the tune of $75,536.

They also found that Eddie Obeid's family had a secret 30 per cent stake in AWH and stood to gain $30-60 million if the deal went through.

Joe Tripodi

Evidence on Joe Tripodi's laptop showed that he had falsified a Cabinet minute recommending the contract go through, but Labor Premier at the time, Kistina Kenneally knocked it back.

Kristina Kenneally

Last night the Liberal Party agreed to return donations of $75,536 to Sydney Water.  And if that isn't reason enough for the Deputy Treasurer to stand down, I don't know what is.  Tony Abbott - you need to nip this situation in the bud, today.

Edit 19 March 2014:  Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos stepped aside from the frontbench just before Question Time today.  Tony Abbott said Senator Sinodinos would "draw no ministerial salary and have no access to ministerial entitlements", but insisted that he had stood aside and not resigned.