News State New South Wales Baird govt MP emerges unscathed from ICAC

Baird govt MP emerges unscathed from ICAC

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It’s a rare sight but a NSW Liberal MP has emerged from a corruption inquiry smiling.

Member for Maitland Robyn Parker, a former environment minister, is the latest Hunter MP to give evidence at the watchdog over the state’s political donations scandal.

But unlike her former colleagues Tim Owen and Andrew Cornwell, who this week quit politics in disgrace, Ms Parker has exited the hearings unscathed.

She appeared before the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Friday after former developer and now Newcastle Mayor Jeff McCloy told the watchdog he may have given her money in the lead-up to the 2011 election.

Mr McCloy said he may have given money to Ms Parker’s husband for some CDs but couldn’t remember the details of the incident.

Ms Parker told the commission the money was not related to her campaign but for a CD the family helped produce for their seriously ill son Dylan who had a “golf ball sized tumour” in his head.

The CD was part of Dylan’s “bucket list” of things he wanted to do “before he died”, Ms Parker said.

Mr McCloy’s allegedly illegal donations have so far helped end the careers of Mr Owen and Dr Cornwell and forced fellow Liberal MP Garry Edwards to the cross bench.

Political donations from developers have been banned in NSW since 2009.

Mr McCloy’s activities have prompted Local Government Minister Paul Toole to again urge Mr McCloy to “consider his position” as mayor.

Ms Parker was asked about a text message sent from Mr Owen to his campaign director Hugh Thomson regarding a $120,000 donation allegedly sourced from businessman Nathan Tinkler.

She also rejected suggestions the “big man” referred to in the text messages, and who allegedly sourced the $120,000, was former premier Barry O’Farrell.

Mr Owen said in the SMS he suspected the money was split between RP and AC, thought to be Ms Parker and Dr Cornwell.

But Ms Parker denies she received any money.

“I’m not sure where that money went or where it came from,” she said.

“But it really had no relevance at all to (the seat of) Maitland.”

The inquiry has previously heard the “big man” was in fact Mr Tinkler.

Ms Parker told the inquiry her campaign team refunded a $600 donation from Bill Saddington once they realised he had made a property development application.

Addressing the media after giving evidence, she urged Hunter voters not to abandon the Liberals.

“I want the people of the Hunter know that we are determined to turn the place around,” she said.