6 September 2018
Gladys Berejiklian’s chief backer, Liberal lobbyist Michael Photios is being investigated by the authorities for his lobbying on behalf of the light rail contractor who is suing her government for $1.2 billion.
Mr Photios, who controls the largest faction in the NSW Liberals, is being investigated by the NSW Electoral Commission for potential breaches of the lobbying of Government Officials Act 2011. The potential breach deals with whether the light rail contractor Acciona was disclosed as a client on the lobbyist register when he lobbied the Premier’s office in 2017.
The ongoing investigation by the NSW Electoral Commission was revealed in a Budget Estimates hearing in State Parliament today in which the Premier was grilled about her close links to Mr Photios and what his client stood to get out of his lobbying efforts.
The Premier was forced on the defensive following questions by the NSW Labor Opposition on revelations last week that her government had agreed to guarantee a half a billion dollar bailout package for light rail contractors.
Premier Berejiklian’s pet project has been mismanaged from the start with delays, cost blowouts, legal disputes and small businesses closing their doors because of the on-going disruption.
Mr Photios’ firm Premier State disclosed it had been hired by Acciona on March 23 2018 but in a media report he was reported to be lobbying the government in 2017.
Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader in the Legislative Council Adam Searle MLC:
“The Premier and Michael Photios would like nothing more to cut a deal in the backrooms of Macquarie Street rather than be open and transparent with the public who are the ones who are footing the bill for the CBD light rail disaster.
“The Premier’s failure to come clean and tell exactly what Mr Photios’ involvement was in the negotiation of the $500 million loan guarantee tells you everything you need to know about the way government is run under the Liberals.
“If the public are on the hook for more money to pay for light rail they need to be told. The Premier can’t hide in the shadows with her lobbyist mates.”