Wed. Aug 10th, 2022

The regional gun club at the center of the corruption investigation that fell Gladys Berejiklian had been seeking state funding – but was repeatedly rejected – for several years before Daryl Maguire secured the multi-million dollar payment from the NSW government.

The Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) had applied ‘for a period of over four years’ but had faced ‘repeated refusals’ when the $ 5.5 million grant was approved under Premier Berejiklian in August 2017, official club documents state .

It can also only be revealed that according to official gun club records, the deal ‘would never have been possible’ without Daryl Maguire, the local NSW Liberal MP at the time.

The $ 5.5 million grant to the arms club, ACTA, is at the heart of NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations that led to Berejiklian’s spectacular resignation a week ago.

The regional gun club at the center of the corruption investigation that fell Gladys Berejiklian had applied for government grants - but was repeatedly rejected - for several years before Daryl Maguire (pictured with a gun in hand earlier this month) secured payment

The regional gun club at the center of the corruption investigation that fell Gladys Berejiklian had applied for government grants – but was repeatedly rejected – for several years before Daryl Maguire (pictured with a gun in hand earlier this month) secured payment

It has been widely reported that the approach to the government was in January 2016, but these revelations show that the gun club had formally sought – and was repulsed – the grant since 2012 or 2013, raising several questions about the 2017 decision to approve it.

ICAC has said it is investigating the period 2012-2018.

It is not suggested that either Daryl Maguire or Gladys Berejiklian have engaged in corrupt conduct, which is a matter for ICAC to decide.

At the time of award, and since at least 2015, Maguire and Berejiklian had been secret lovers, it has since sensationally emerged.

(Berejiklian has said that the relationship started in 2015, while Maguire has variously stated that it started in 2013, 2014 and 2015).

Maguire, who had been an NSW MP for Wagga Wagga for 19 years, was forced to resign from the government in April 2018 following a previous ICAC inquiry by the then NSW Canterbury Council.

This investigation, called Operation Delta, revealed that Maguire had allegedly sought secret setbacks from a major Chinese real estate developer.

At the time of the award, and since at least 2015, Maguire and Berejiklian (pictured together) had been secret lovers, it has since sensationally emerged

At the time of the award, and since at least 2015, Maguire and Berejiklian (pictured together) had been secret lovers, it has since sensationally emerged

Late last year, a new investigation into Maguire’s alleged secretive business – codenamed Operation Keppel – revealed that Maguire had been in a secret ‘romantic relationship’ with Berejiklian from at least 2015 to August last year.

That was while Maguire, who reported to Berejiklian, had allegedly been involved in a series of incorrect, unreported business relationships – some of which he had allegedly told Berejiklian about in telephone conversations secretly recorded by ICAC.

Berejiklian survived this scandal a year ago, but offered her resignation from parliament on October 1, after the ICAC announced that it was investigating her as well as Maguire during Operation Keppel.

ICAC announced that it was investigating the circumstances surrounding the gun club grant as well as another grant involving the Riverina Conservatory of Music, also in Wagga Wagga.

Public hearings start next Monday and are expected to run for three weeks.

In mid-2017, the NSW government granted the gun club, ACTA, $ 5.5 million. To build a giant new clubhouse and 1000-person convention center on its premises on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga, about 250 km west of Canberra.

Klaxon can only reveal that the club’s then national president, Robert Nugent, in ACTA’s annual report for 2017, congratulates the club’s officials and Maguire on having raised $ 5.5 million.

Nugent praises the ‘persistence’ shown in ‘ongoing application for funds’, despite ‘repeated refusals’.

The former prime minister was spotted outside her office last week following her shock resignation

The former prime minister was spotted outside her office last week following her shock resignation

‘This project, from the persistence shown by continuously seeking funding over a period of over 4 years after repeated refusals … is a credit to everyone involved,’ writes Nugent.

It is known that Maguire made the January 2016 approach to the NSW government on behalf of the arms club, but these documents reveal how crucial Maguire’s commitment was to the club, which received $ 5.5 million.

‘Finally, we must acknowledge the efforts of Daryl Maguire, the local state LNP member, without whom the project would never have been possible,’ the 2017 annual report states.

It is publicly known that Maguire had been calling for a new congress center in Wagga Wagga since 2005 and that he was praised in the voters when it was given, but the annual report shows how integrated his efforts were.

Nugent signed the annual report in his capacity as national president on January 24, 2018.

ACTA’s current CEO Paul Gilbert said it was not ‘appropriate’ for the arms club to comment as the case ‘is currently under investigation by the ICAC’.

Mrs Berejiklian (pictured) resigned on October 1, just before the NSW capital was to emerge from a grueling four-month lockdown

Mrs Berejiklian (pictured) resigned on October 1, just before the NSW capital was to emerge from a grueling four-month lockdown

‘I was also not employed by ACTA until late 2019, so I can not give any historical perspective,’ Gilbert said in a written statement.

Attempts to reach Nugent, who ceased to be ACTA’s national president in 2019, failed.

A spokesman for the regional NSW spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter ‘currently the subject of a public inquiry’.

The circumstances and the timeline for the grant of the weapons club of 5.5 million. The dollar will be a key element in ICAC’s public hearings.

Last year, ABC’s 7.30 revealed that Berejiklian had overseen a fund that in December 2016 set aside a ‘financing reserve’ for $ 5.5 million.

Two weeks later, on January 2, 2017, Maguire announced as NSW MP $ 5.5 million.

However, it has since emerged that the grant was not approved until August 2017, seven months later.

In August this year, 7.30 revealed that Berejiklian had allegedly interfered in the assessment of the gun club grant.

A cache of government emails showed that Maguire, on behalf of ACTA, wrote to Berejiklian on January 27, 2016 to seek funding.

On 18 February 2016, Berejiklian, then NSW Treasurer, replied that then-Sports Minister Stuart Ayres would respond on behalf of the NSW Government.

In April 2017, the NSW Department of Industry conducted a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ of the gun club’s grant application.

The test failed.

The proposal did not provide sufficient value to taxpayers and it was ‘very unlikely that the conference facility will attract a large number of international and intergovernmental visitors to NSW’, the department found.

Then, in July 2017, the proposal was re-evaluated, and this time it came back as meeting the criteria.

The documents show that on June 1, 2017, NSW CEO Chris Hangar wrote to Infrastructure NSW CEO Jim Betts about the ‘updated’ proposal.

Hangar wrote that the ‘updated’ business case had been assessed ‘at the request of Premier’.

Three weeks later, on June 20, 2017, Regional NSW Deputy Secretary Gary Barnes provided a written update to a senior Berejiklian staffer who said: ‘Just wanted to keep you in the loop given the Prime Minister’s interest’.

Berejiklian had publicly said that the ICAC had told her that she was not an ‘affected witness’ and said that the ICAC should be left to ‘carry out their work’.

That changed on October 1, when the ICAC announced that Berejiklian was under direct investigation.

Only Berejiklian and Maguire have been announced by ICAC as under investigation.

ICAC has said it will release a ‘witness list’ closer to the start of the hearings.

It is expected that several senior NSW officials will be called in to provide evidence to assist the ICAC in its investigations.

This article also appears on the News News website Klaxon, served by journalist Anthony Klan, author of the article.

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.