Former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire is being ‘shielded’ from further anti-corruption inquiries according to claims by the opposition.
NSW Labor leader Luke Foley said Liberal and National MPs had blocked this party’s attempt to move motions on having the Independent Commission against Corruption investigate all of Mr Maguire’s alleged dealings.
A written notice of motion included a call for ICAC to investigate Mr Maguire’s involvement in the $400 million proposal for a Wagga Trade Centre, which was put forward by a Chinese consortium.
“The Premier talks a big game when it comes to integrity but she does nothing,” Mr Foley said.
“She says ‘refer the matter to the ICAC’ knowing full well that the agency cannot look at everything Mr Maguire got up to.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Parliament that ICAC did not require a motion in parliament to act on any allegations.
Mr Foley attempted on Wednesday to suspend standing orders in Parliament and move a motion to refer Mr Maguire to ICAC over his past testimony about dealings over Sydney properties with Chinese and Malaysian developers.
A statement later issued from Mt Foley’s office suggested that Labor was seeking to damage NSW government ministers by having ICAC investigate any alleged meetings with Mr Maguire.
Mr Maguire resigned from parliament last week after weeks of pressure over revelations at ICAC that he sought to profit from a Sydney property deal by consorting with a Canterbury councillor.
Mr Maguire was not the original target of the investigation and Mr Foley said ICAC should look to other deals outside Canterbury that Mr Maguire was allegedly involved in.
Labor was not granted leave to move the motion and Coalition MPs later voted to give priority to other matters.
Ms Berejiklian told Parliament that Mr Foley had an obligation to contact authorities if he had any new information.
“I refer my call to every single member of this place: If they see or hear anything that is of concern, which they feel ICAC should investigate, refer it on the spot,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Do not wait three or four weeks; do not use this place.”
Wyong Labor MP David Harris called on Ms Berejiklian to investigate Mr Maguire’s involvement with the Wagga Trade Centre.
Mr Maguire sat on the ‘Mayoral Taskforce’ established by Wagga City Council to help bring about the ‘Wuai Wholesale International Trade Centre’.
The centre was intended for the “creation of jobs and the strengthening of our city’s current retail base and industry,” according to then-Wagga Mayor Rod Kendall.
“In light of media reports in 2013 of Daryl Maguire's relationship with the Wuai Group, the developers of the now defunct $600 million Wagga Trade Centre, will the Premier investigate what involvement the former member for Wagga Wagga had with these development proposals?” Mr Harris said.
Ms Berejiklian dismissed the question as “stupid”
“Unlike the Labor Party, this government does not believe in internal investigations,” she said,
“Why would I investigate it when the Independent Commission Against Corruption is there?
“What a stupid question.”
Last month, Fairfax Media reported that Mr Maguire accepted assisted travel to China from the same businessman who was allegedly pressured by Chinese intelligence agencies to cultivate Labor MPs Eric and Joel Fitzgibbon.
Mr Maguire flew to China for 11 days in August 2002 with financial assistance from ACA Capital Investments, his parliamentary disclosures show.
He had dealings with ACA Capital's sole director Humphrey Xu for the next decade, culminating in a failed bid by ACA Investments to build a $400 million international trade centre in Wagga.
Humphrey Xu, 58, is the former boyfriend and business partner of Helen Liu.
Ms Liu's personal friendship with then defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon made headlines in 2009 when Fairfax Media reported allegations that Ms Liu was suspected of having links to Chinese military intelligence.
On November 30, 2012, Mr Maguire - by now a member of government after a decade in opposition - witnessed the signing in NSW Parliament of a memorandum of understanding between Wagga council, ACA Capital Investments, and Chinese state-owned company Wuai to build a $400 million trade centre.
In June 2013, Wagga Wagga council approved the sale of land to ACA Capital, shortly after Mr Xu had visited to inspect the site.
But the deal had collapsed by October, with a council report citing community concern over "lack of transparency".
On Thursday, Cr Kendall said he was not aware of any information regarding Mr Maguire and the Wagga Trade Centre that appeared to require a referral to ICAC.
“There is no information that I am aware of that would indicate anything other than a straightforward involvement,” he said,
“Whilst I’m sure Daryl played a part in making them aware that the block of land was out for expression of interest, that was a public expression of interest.
“We were not a party to any private discussions that Daryl might have had. I’m not aware. In my time as mayor there was never any approach to council for any favours, for want of a better word, or the like.”
Cr Kendall said the proposal to build the trade centre ended after Wuai did not live up to its promises.
“From council’s involvement and contacts, there was nothing untoward,” he said,
“It was all a very straightforward proposal from council’s point of view. There was a proposal because we advertised for an expression of interest and they put in an expression of interest at an acceptable price.
“Our involvement was subject to them putting in a development application and getting it approved.
Cr Kendall said the application did not arrive amid considerable community discontent over the proposal.
“After a period of time council informed that group that we wouldn’t be continuing the expression of interest because they hadn’t fulfilled their promise, which was to submit an application so our planners could look at the detail.”
The Daily Advertiser has attempted to contact Mr Maguire for comment but reaching the former MP has become more difficult since his resignation last week, which was effective immediately.