Eric Roozendaal leaves ICAC on Monday. Pic: Daniel Munoz, Fairfax Media via Getty ImagesLABOR treasurer Eric Roozendaal secretly ordered that plans for a Mayfield container terminal be altered to provide for a coal conveyor across the site, after he was lobbied by Buildev and party powerbroker Joe Tripodi to support the company’s coalloader.
The instruction was issued in early 2011 to the Newcastle Port Corporation despite its objections and clear advice from Treasury and the Hunter Development Corporation of major problems with the coal-loader idea.
The warnings included those from anti-corruption experts that it would be ‘‘grossly unfair’’ to deal with the Newcastle development company exclusively over use of the former steelworks site for coal and a letter from Hunter Development Corporation chairman Paul Broad that the government should ‘‘carefully consider whether the situation justifies direct dealing in preference to a public competitive process’’.
Mr Roozendaal, also ports minister, then wrote a draft letter to the port corporation board in February 2011 to approve the state-owned corporation proceeding with direct negotiations for a container terminal.
But it was on the basis a coal-conveyor easement be included to allow for a future coal-loader as well.
‘‘To whose benefit would that have been?’’ counselassisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry Geoffrey Watson, SC, asked yesterday.
‘‘The people of NSW,’’ Mr Roozendaal replied.‘‘ . . . Apart from them, would it have been of benefit to a particular company?’’ Mr Watson pressed.
‘‘It was potentially a benefit to Buildev, yes,’’ Mr Roozendaal admitted.
The port corporation board minutes record: ‘‘It was understood that the minister was to make an announcement to this effect but would not refer to the easement.’’
Mr Roozendaal denied the change was a potential ‘‘windfall’’ for Buildev he sought to keep secret.
But the move also followed Mr Roozendaal’s instructions issued in November 2010 that the port corporation board be blocked from endorsing then the start of negotiations with the consortium that wanted to build the container terminal, until aTreasury review of the project and Buildev’s coalloader proposal was done.
Labor MP Joe Tripodi had met with Buildev, part owned by Nathan Tinkler, only a few days before that order was given and had assured its directors he would speak to Mr Roozendaal about their coalloader plan.
Mr Roozendaal admitted it was likely he had discussed the issue with Mr Tripodi as ‘‘Joe was advocating for the Buildev proposal’’ and he ‘‘didn’t think it was a problem’’ for Mr Tripodi to discuss with Buildev the information passing through his office.
However, he denied leaking to Mr Tripodi or anyone else a Treasury briefing about the Mayfield site.
Mr Roozendaal denied knowing that Mr Tinkler had offered to secretly fund Newcastle MP and minister for the Hunter Jodi McKay’s campaign, as Ms McKay has told the ICAC.
The inquiry continues.FORMER police minister Mike Gallacher ‘‘constantly’’ referred to Barry O’Farrell as the ‘‘big man’’ and the ‘‘big kahuna’’, suggesting texts about ‘‘$120k’’ coming from an unnamed big man could be references to the former premier, an inquiry has been told.
Former resources and energy minister and Terrigal MP Chris Hartcher told the Independent Commission Against Corruption yesterday he had never discussed $120,000 as promised campaign funding with Newcastle candidate Tim Owen.
The inquiry has been shown a text message from Mr Owen’s campaign manager, Hugh Thomson, to Mr Gallacher, the founder of the Hunter Liberals, asking ‘‘how’s our big man going with the $120k’’.
Mr Thomson has given evidence he believed the big man was Nathan Tinkler.