Who knew what and when?
Political scandals, if they go anywhere, almost always arrive at this question. As the Sinodinos allegations emerge, the pressure on his colleagues will build.
The Opposition didn't have much luck getting answers in parliament yesterday, but the Coalition's evasions won't be acceptable for long – because the evidence presented yesterday at ICAC was damning.
While Sinodinos was its chairman or deputy chairman, Australian Water Holdings paid $183,342 to a Liberal Party-related slush fund. Other large donations were made directly to the Liberal Party, of which Sinodinos was state finance director at the time. ICAC was told that AWH disguised political donations as “administration costs” and then charged them back to the state-owned Sydney Water, along with expenses such as chauffeur-driven limousines.
Could Sinodinos have been unaware of this?
An AWH investor yesterday alleged that he personally raised these expenses with Sinodinos, and was told "the board was on top of it". The donations were also detailed in AWH management accounts available to the board.
If the claims are correct, there was a line of money running from the publicly-owned Sydney Water to the Liberal Party, and a much larger pot of money awaiting Sinodinos personally.
The prime minister is confident Sinodinos "will return to the front bench soon." Does he know nothing of what's alleged? Has he ever sought to ask?
"A secret Liberal Party-related slush fund being investigated for corruption received $183,342 from Australian Water Holdings while Arthur Sinodinos was AWH’s chairman or deputy chairman... The payments by AWH were booked as public relations services."
And: So, is he a minister or not? (ABC)
"PNG is yet to finalise claims and offer permanent resettlement to a single refugee, despite that arrangement being a key part of Australia's border protection policy. Mr Abbott's visit is a chance to apply some gentle pressure to PNG to speed things up."
"The agency in charge of the national disability insurance scheme has been likened to “a plane that took off before it had been fully built and is being completed while it is in the air”, in an independent report that questions its ability to roll out the flagship project.The agency in charge of the national disability insurance scheme has been likened to “a plane that took off before it had been fully built and is being completed while it is in the air”, in an independent report that questions its ability to roll out the flagship project. The report concludes that the agency has been desperately trying to take control under difficult circumstances, including implementing a public-service hiring freeze."
"The departing Treasury secretary says his department needs to reduce its staff by one in three workers to meet budget cuts... Dr Parkinson (says) his department has already managed to shed its workforce by about 15 per cent, roughly half of its reduction target."
"Why was it OK for Sinodinos to stay in his job on Tuesday and yet by Wednesday it was "in the best and most honourable Westminster tradition" that he stand aside? What changed?... For Sinodinos to resume his ministerial career, he will need to be exonerated by the inquiry. There cannot be any ambiguity or lasting suspicion."