Tinkler embroiled in Hartcher corruption hearing

FORMER coal magnate Nathan Tinkler is expected to be hauled before the corruption watchdog to testify whether his building company, Buildev, contributed to a slush fund set up by former New South Wales minister for energy and resources Chris Hartcher.

Lou Caruana

Hartcher was forced to resign from his portfolio when it emerged that his $400,000 slush fund had allegedly received political donations from developers, which was banned in NSW.

In an extraordinary month at the Independent Commission of Corruption, which saw former Premier Barry O’Farrell resign over a $3000 bottle of wine that he failed to declare, the state’s former mines minister is being put under scrutiny as part of Operation Spicer.

Hartcher had allegedly set up a sham company called “Eightbyfive,” in which the payments were made.

The Central Coast MP joins a long list of NSW mining ministers who are embroiled in controversy, which includes the now disgraced Ian Macdonald and factional mastermind Eddie Obeid.

In February 2012, Tinkler struck back at allegations that he made donations to the Liberal and National Party to influence decisions regarding his business interests.

In March 2011, Tinkler made a private individual donation of $5000 to the New South Wales National Party and $45,000 to the Federal National Party.

“The funds were made by Mr Tinkler in good faith as a private individual from his own personal funds,” a spokesman for Tinkler told ICN at the time.

“They were not made on behalf of any company Mr Tinkler is a director or shareholder in.

“At the time, Mr Tinkler was not aware he could potentially be deemed a ‘prohibited donor’ for the purposes of the NSW Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act.”

Tinkler was also not aware that a minority shareholding in a property group meant that a private donation was potentially prohibited, the spokesman said.

“If he was aware, the donation would never have been made.

“Mr Tinkler's personal donation of $45,000 to the Federal National Party is not affected by the NSW laws.”

Tinkler was a shareholder and a director of several private and public companies and was chairman of Aston Resources, which was developing the Maules Creek project in NSW.

Section 147 of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act requires proponents to declare political donations made within two years of the application by the company, a related corporation (including a holding company), or company directors.

The proponent is also required to disclose any subsequent political donations after the initial application is lodged, within seven days of the donation being made.

The Department of Planning said the legislation placed the onus on applicants to disclose political donations.