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28 August 2014

ICAC body count reaches double digits

Londonderry MP Bart Bassett is the latest ICAC casualty.

NSW MP Bart Bassett is the latest Liberal casualty after being named at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The state’s illegal donations scandal has claimed yet another NSW Liberal Party scalp, with Bart Bassett stepping aside from the party.
The Londonderry MP on Wednesday became the tenth NSW Liberal MP to be sidelined this year following revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The ICAC on Wednesday heard allegations that Mr Bassett received an $18,000 donation from banned donors in the lead-up to the 2011 NSW election in exchange for favours on a housing project.

“This morning the ICAC extended its inquiry to look into whether Buildev sought to influence me in my former role as Hawkesbury Mayor,” Mr Bassett said in a statement.

“I reject this allegation and I look forward to my opportunity to clear my name.
“In the meantime, I have decided to stand aside from the Parliamentary Liberal Party.”

Evidence at the ICAC this year has led to the dethroning of former premier Barry O’Farrell, forced Tim Owen and Andrew Cornwell to quit politics, relegated seven MPs to the cross benches and seen ex-police minister Mike Gallacher relinquish his portfolio.

Property developers have been banned from making political donations in NSW since 2009.
Mr Bassett, who entered NSW parliament in 2011, said he has informed Premier Mike Baird of his decision and that he has accepted it.
“I am not prepared to allow this to become a distraction for the Liberal Party or the Government,” Mr Bassett said.

The ICAC is investigating whether the money was delivered to the former Hawkesbury mayor to thank him for making – or encourage him to make – favourable planning decisions for Buildev during his time on council.

Counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson SC says investigators have uncovered hard evidence that Buildev channelled $18,000 to Mr Bassett’s campaign coffers in the lead-up to his win at the 2011 NSW election.
Mr Bassett in 2011 became the first Liberal to win the western Sydney seat of Londonderry.
He holds the seat on a 12.3 per cent margin.