Daryl Maguire brokered Premier's meeting with convicted publicans

Premier Gladys Berejiklian (left) and Gino Scutti.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian (left) and Gino Scutti.

Wagga MP Daryl Maguire is under scrutiny after he brokered a meeting between Premier Gladys Berejiklian and two publicans with criminal records during her visit to the Riverina last year.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is also under pressure to explain why she agreed to meet two publicans with criminal records including for arson and attempted insurance fraud and illegally owning poker machines.

The Premier met in late October to “discuss gaming issues” with three publicans in the Riverina and Mr Maguire, diaries disclosed by her department last week show.

But two of the men present, Gino Scutti and Nicholas Tinning, had criminal histories, it was revealed in Question Time on Thursday.

The Premier said she did not recall the meeting or answer questions from Labor about whether she retained confidence in the Wagga MP.

Wagga MP Daryl Maguire. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

Wagga MP Daryl Maguire. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

Mr Maguire declined to comment when contacted by The Daily Advertiser on Thursday night.

Ms Berejiklian initially said she had no recall of the meeting but later told the house that it was while on a tour of the region.

“On a visit to the Riverina community they met with me to discuss changes to [gaming regulations] by the previous Labor government," she said.

"When members of the community ask to meet with me ... I will meet with them.

"They explained to me the hardship their families had faced in relation to changes in law. I didn't know those indviduals but I listened to their concerns."

Scutti, the former owner of the Carrathool Family Hotel, was convicted in 2013 of burning down his pub three years earlier.

He was not jailed despite police saying a custodial sentence was warranted because of the disregard he showed for public safety. The Wagga Local Court magistrate, taking into account Scutti's lack of criminal history and discovery that his wife had a terminal illness, served him with a suspended jail sentence.

Shadow Attorney-General Paul Lynch questioned whether the Premier or the parliamentary secretary had acted with appropriate care in agreeing to the meetings.

“What we are still in the dark about is whether the Premier knew the backgrounds of the individuals with whom she was meeting," he said.

“It is concerning that the Premier doesn’t do her homework and due diligence and that she is quite happy to meet people without proper checks."

Scutti's lawyer told a local court that the fire, and the subsequent submission of a false report to insurer QBE, were part of a "hare-brained scheme". 

He was handed a suspended two-year sentence and a good behaviour bond for the charges of damaging a property by fire and publishing false information.

Gino Scutti was handed a two-year suspended sentence.

Gino Scutti was handed a two-year suspended sentence.

Scutti had earlier complained that his retirement security had been placed in jeopardy after the pub, which he had bought via lease, had its poker machines sold by its ultimate owner after changes to state law in 2002.

Tinning, who was also present at the meeting, pleaded guilty last April to illegally possessing five poker machines and parts following an investigation by Liquor and Gaming NSW. He was fined $7500 in the same court.

Tinning is a Wagga-based hotel broker.

Former Labor Opposition Leader John Robertson was forced to resign following an internal coup over revelations he had signed a reference for Man Monis, the man who later perpetrated the Lindt Cafe siege but who had at that time been found guilty of sending offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.