Wednesday, 19th March 2014

MURKY WATERS

Assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos hasn't been found guilty of anything, and it's entirely possible that it will remain that way.

But the judgement of the law and that of the public doesn't need to be in line to cause political damage. Here are some things we have learnt about Sinodinos in the past few days that the public might expect to be explained, regardless of their legal implications:

Sinodinos was given a 5% share of the Obeid-linked Australian Water Holdings (AWH) at no cost; he was made chairman and paid $200,000 for 100 hours' work a year. He could expect to receive a bonus of up to $20 million if the company won a state government contract, one the Obeids were also lobbying for.

The company, AWH, donated money to the Liberal Party on multiple occasions, and charged some of these donations back to the publicly owned Sydney Water. Sinodinos, simultaneously a senior office bearer in both organisations, has denied knowledge of these donations.

Sinodinos denies knowing that the Obeids were financially involved in the company he chaired, AWH, even though they had bought a 30% stake in it the day before he moved from AWH board-member to chairman. He didn't know of the involvement with the Obeids, he says, even as he was involved in negotiating the sale of a share of AWH to a secret coal venture that was also linked to the Obeids – while Eddie Obeid jnr was in the room.

"There is no suggestion that Senator Sinodinos knew of the link between the Obeids and Cascade Coal," says the Australian Financial Review.

Of course not. But should someone who is so clueless about the true dealings of a company he directs be drafting the nation's new financial services regulations, those that relate to conflicts of interest? Should he be assistant treasurer? 

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

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New Sinodinos-Obeid link

"Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos was involved in negotiations to sell a $15 million stake in Australian Water Holdings to investors involved in a secret coal venture with the family of corrupt Labor faction leader Eddie Obeid. Senator Sinodinos, the chairman of Australian Water Holdings, met lawyer John McGuigan on February 25, 2011, to discuss the sale of a stake in the company, according to a diary entry. Chief executive Nick Di Girolamo and Eddie Obeid junior were also present."

Federal Opposition calls on Arthur Sinodinos to make full statement to Senate

"The Federal Opposition is stepping up pressure on Arthur Sinodinos, calling on him to make a full statement to the Senate about his involvement with a company at the centre of a corruption hearing or stand aside as Assistant Treasurer."

AlsoArthur Sinodinos and ICAC: Answers required from this charming man (SMH)

Former Australian soldier Caner Temel killed fighting alongside Syrian rebels

"The Federal Government says a former Australian soldier has been killed fighting with rebels in Syria. It says Caner Temel, from Auburn in Sydney's west, spent 17 months in the Army before going absent without leave in September 2010."

Hypocrisy adds insult to injuries

"It was by no means crystal clear that Professor Marcia Langton called Andrew Bolt a racist on the program the week before. She did call him a fool, but he doesn't seem upset by that. Langton said he had racially abused another fair-skinned Aborigine, Misty Jenkins. Later she ''apologised for causing offence'' to Bolt."

Think smart on infrastructure

"We get bombarded with economic and political news. Some of it is worth knowing, some isn't. Some gets much attention, some gets little. Sometimes we give too much attention to things that aren't worth knowing and too little attention to things that are. The Productivity Commission's draft report on public infrastructure is one of the latter."

AlsoWant a case for regulation? Look at CSG (the Drum)