News National ICAC hears suspended NSW Labor secretary Kaila Murnain came forward to ‘do the right thing’

ICAC hears suspended NSW Labor secretary Kaila Murnain came forward to ‘do the right thing’

kaila murnain labor quits
Kaila Murnain speaks to reporters outside ICAC hearings in August. Photo: AAP
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Suspended NSW Labor secretary Kaila Murnain has admitted withholding information from an inquiry into party donations, telling a corruption inquiry she came forward “to do the right thing”.

Kaila Murnain was today recalled to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry for her second day of evidence into an alleged illegal donation from property developer Huang Xiangmo for a Chinese Friends of Labor fundraiser dinner in 2015.

Ms Murnain, who was suspended last week after she revealed knowledge of the donation, took the stand to be questioned about her phone records.

Ms Murnain has previously given evidence that after she found out about the donation — through a phone call with former Labor MP Ernest Wong in September 2016 — she phoned ex-federal senator Sam Dastyari to ask for advice.

Under cross-examination today, Ms Murnain was asked why her phone records suggest she phoned party lawyer Ian Robertson before Mr Dastyari.

“My memory is I spoke to Sam before Ian,” she said. “None of this changes that.”

Ms Murnain said she did not believe phone calls she made the same day to former Labor MP Luke Foley were about the donation.

The suspended Labor secretary was then asked about evidence she gave during compulsory examinations prior to the public ICAC inquiry.

“You would have to accept that you were less than forthcoming,” counsel assisting the inquiry Scott Robertson said.

Mr Robertson put it to Kaila Murnain that she deliberately did not tell ICAC investigators that she had met with Ernest Wong, Sam Dastyari and lawyer Ian Robertson about the illegal donation.

Ms Murnain admitted she withheld the information during the compulsory examinations, but said it was because she was focusing on answering questions about a fundraising dinner.

She said she later came forward because she wanted to “do the right thing”.

“It wasn’t the easy thing,” she said.

“I’ve never been through a process like this before. I haven’t been to a court, let alone a commission, before.”