Commission’s ban passes state parliament

NSW Labor introduced the bill following revelations stemming from the ICAC inquiry into former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.

A NSW Labor bill banning NSW parliamentary secretaries and ministers from receiving commissions from property developers passed the lower house on Tuesday.

Last week on Thursday, the upper house passed a change to the ministerial code of conduct and the lower house accepted the proposed amendments to the Statute Law Bill 2020 on Tuesday.

This follows four weeks of public hearings into the former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire, where a corruption inquiry heard that he sought to monetise his position as a member of Parliament.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption heard evidence that Mr Maguire accepted commissions from property and allegations that the Premier congratulated him with the words: “Congrats!!! That’s great!!! Woo hoo!”

Labor MLC Adam Searle told the upper house last Thursday that Mr Maguire put a number of schemes in place as an MP to promote the interests of developers with government agencies to help them secure planning approval.

“In a fairly outrageous way he sought to charge a commission from them and thereby enrich himself further,” Mr Searle said. 

“It is probably the case that such activities are already banned by the code as it stands, but clearly Mr Maguire did not think so and, on her evidence, it appears that the Premier did not think so either. 

“If it is the case that there is such a gaping hole in the regime, it is unacceptable and must be plugged. For more abundant caution, we will propose an amendment that does that,” Mr Searle concluded, before the amendment was agreed to.

The amendment was agreed to in the lower house on Tuesday, where the deputy opposition leader Yasmin Catley said it “must be supported.”

“…we cannot have a situation where corrupt parliamentarians can use their public office for profit and where the halls of power can be accessed by businesspeople who are willing to pay a fee,” Ms Catley said. 

“In a democracy we should all have equal access to Parliament and to its representatives.”

Labor Leader Jodi McKay said that she has also introduced further legislation to prevent all members of Parliament from accepting commissions from property developers.

“It shocks me that we need to do this. But as we’ve heard, the Premier thinks these payments are acceptable,” Ms McKay said.

“It’s illegal to receive donations from property developers. It should be illegal for the very same developers to pay politicians commissions.

“We will seek support from the Government and cross bench to amend the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act to ban commissions from property developers for all MPs. They have a job to do. Their job is to represent their community.

“They should not be moonlighting with property developers and earning extra income.”