As the ICAC investigation into Gladys Berejiklian is extended, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet – who actually made the $5.5 million grant at the heart of the scandal – is ducking for cover. Anthony Klan reports.




Dominic Perrottet’s political future is under a cloud with the NSW Premier refusing to stand by the legality of a $5.5 million grant he made following an “intervention” by Gladys Berejiklian and heavy lobbying by Daryl Maguire.

The grant, for a new clubhouse and “convention centre” at a Wagga Wagga gun club, is the focus of the ongoing NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) probe which last year felled Berejiklian as NSW Premier.

Just months out from a state election tipped to be fought on political integrity, Perrottet has formally refused to respond to detailed parliamentary questions about his ties to the scandal – despite revelations he made the $5.5m grant and that it was illegal under state legislation.

“After 12 years in office, the Premier and his ministers are addicted to secrecy and believe that accountability doesn’t apply to them,” said Penny Sharpe, leader of the Opposition in the NSW upper house.

Perrottet approved the $5.5m grant to the Australian Clay Targets Association in highly unusual circumstances in 2017, when he was Treasurer and Berejiklian was Premier.

The grant had been heavily pursued by then Wagga MP Daryl Maguire who, it later, emerged, had been in a secret relationship with Berejiklian at the time.

“After 12 years in office, the Premier and his ministers are addicted to secrecy and believe that accountability doesn’t apply to them” – Penny Sharpe

ICAC launched Operation Keppel in 2020, naming Maguire as under investigation. In October last year it announced Berejiklian was also under investigation, prompting her voluntary resignation as NSW Premier.

The NSW Opposition locked-on to Perrottet’s involvement in the scandal after The Klaxon revealed Perrottet’s $5.5m grant was expressly illegal as it did not meet the requirements of the Restart NSW Fund Act.

The Klaxon had earlier exclusively revealed it was Perrottet, as NSW Treasurer, who had made the grant.

Following the latest expose, Sharpe put a series of detailed questions to Perrottet, including why he had approved the $5.5m grant despite it being “not eligible under the Restart NSW Fund Act”.


How The Klaxon broke the story. Source: The Klaxon


Sharpe also asked why Perrottet had approved the grant when it failed to meet the requirements of the Regional Growth, Tourism and Environment Fund (RGTEF), which says it won’t fund projects that “are on private land” or “have exclusive benefits”.

(The $5.5m project is on private land and has exclusive benefits.)

Perrottet took the maximum 21 days to respond to the parliamentary questions – and then refused to answer them, instead pointing to his Treasurer, Matt Kean, and to Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW,  Paul Toole.

“Questions in relation to the Restart NSW Funding Act should be directed to the Treasurer,” the response said.

“Questions in relation to the Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund should be directed to the Minster for Regional NSW”.

That’s despite Kean not becoming NSW Treasurer – and Toole not becoming Minister for Regional NSW – until October last year: over four years after Perrottet made the $5.5m grant.

(The Minister for Regional NSW at the time of the grant was John Barilaro. Barilaro resigned from government three days after Berejiklian, on October 4 last year, citing vague personal reasons.)

“Perrottet made the grant more than four years before Kean and Toole started the roles”

The parliamentary snub highlighted the NSW Government’s accountability failures and ongoing culture of “secrecy”, said Sharpe.

“These answers thumb their nose at the community who are sick to their stomachs about pork barrelling and favours for mates,” Sharpe exclusively told The Klaxon.

“These answers thumb their nose at the community who are sick to their stomachs about pork barrelling and favours for mates” – Penny Sharpe

The mounting pressure on Perrottet over the grant comes as the ICAC late last month announced it had extended its employment of assistant commissioner Ruth McColl SC, who is overseeing Operation Keppel.

McColl had been due to depart on October 31.

“Ms McColl’s services are required for the purpose of her finalising the Operation Keppel report, including participating in the review and editing process of that report,” the ICAC said.


The questions Dominic Perrottet is refusing to answer. Source: NSW Legislative Assembly



Operation Keppel is investigating the $5.5m gun club grant as well as a funding proposal connected to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music, also in Wagga Wagga.

Berejiklian is being investigated over whether she engaged in a “breach of public trust” in relation to either project, given her “personal relationship” with Maguire, which ran from at least 2015 until 2020.

The ICAC has heard the $5.5m gun club grant was approved despite senior NSW Government officials formally warning it was “suss” and that it should not be granted; the NSW Office of Sport wanting no involvement in the project; and the NSW Department of Infrastructure describing it as “unusual” and warning that grants had to be for “public infrastructure” and not “private assets on private land”.

The grant was for private assets on private land.

ICAC has said it was focused on funding “promised and/or awarded” to the gun club  “in 2016/2017”.

Perrottet awarded the gun club grant on August 27, 2017.

It came from the Regional Growth, Environment and Tourism Fund (RGTEF), one of numerous sub-fund of the umbrella Restart NSW Fund.


  • Feb 2017 – Perrottet approves $300m fund, the RGTEF
  • Aug 2017 – Perrottet awards $5.5m grant from RGTEF
  • Oct 2020 – Berejiklian, Maguire relationship revealed
  • Oct 2021 – Berejiklian resigns as NSW Premier
  • Oct 2021 – Perrottet revealed as having awarded $5.5m grant
  • July 2022 – Perrottet’s $5.5m grant revealed to be illegal
  • Aug 2022 – Perrottet revealed has having approved the RGTEF
  • Oct 2022 – ICAC commissioner Ruth McColl SC term extended


On July 8, 2017, Jenny Davis of Infrastructure NSW sent an email to seven colleagues across three NSW Government departments about the gun club proposal, ICAC documents show.

“The project is unusual,” Davis wrote.

“We need to ensure that the funding goes to public infrastructure, not to private assets on private land.

“Our recommendation doesn’t need to go back to ERC (Expenditure Review Committee), but it does need the Treasurer to approve it,” she wrote.

“Our recommendation…does need the Treasurer to approve it” – Jenny Davis, Infrastructure NSW

As previously revealed, RGTEF’s investment criteria, since deleted from the internet, expressly forbids projects “on private land and/or have exclusive private benefits”.

As further previously revealed, it was Perrottet who approved the creation of – and investment criteria for – the RGTEF.

That was on February 28 2017, at a meeting of the NSW Expenditure Review Committee (ERC), in one of his first jobs as NSW Treasurer.

As previously revealed, Barilaro, then the NSW Deputy Leader and Minister for Regional NSW, had been pushing for the RGTEF for over a year.



The ICAC has also heard the gun club project failed a test which measures value for taxpayers.

Infrastructure NSW decides whether or not to recommend a project to the NSW Treasurer based on its determined “benefit cost ratio”.

A score greater than 1 means a project is expected to deliver a net benefit to taxpayers, while a score of 1 or below means it’s expected to deliver a net loss – a fail.

“Benefits must exceed the cost of its delivery, as demonstrated by having a BCR greater than 1,” Infrastructure NSW states.

“Projects can only be funded if we have recommended them and they are approved by the Treasurer,” it states.

The gun club project received a score of 0.88.

That was in mid-April 2017.

The ICAC has heard there was “a request by the Premier” (Berejiklian) and an “updated” business case for the gun club project was prepared.

Another “benefit cost ratio” test was performed, in July 2017. This time it passed, scoring 1.1.

Weeks later, on August 27, 2017, Perrottet approved the grant.

ICAC spokeswoman Nicole Thomas would not say whether Perrottet had been interviewed or questioned.

“The Commission does not comment on investigative matters,” Thomas told The Klaxon.

The Klaxon has repeatedly approached Perrottet’s office about his illegal $5.5m grant to the Wagga gun club. He has at all times refused to provide a comment.

On May 2018 – nine months after Perrottet made the $5.5m grant – Berejiklian told Maguire in a recorded telephone conversation that Perrottet “just does as I ask him to do”.

“(Perrottet) does just what I ask him to do” – Gladys Berejiklian

Perrottet has not made a public statement regarding whether Berejiklian “asked him” to approve the $5.5m gun club grant.

In any event, it is entirely the Treasurer’s responsibility, under the Restart NSW Fund Act, to approve or reject grants.


The gun club grant: illegal under both Restart NSW Fund Act and the RGTEF. Source: The Klaxon


Restart NSW

The Klaxon has revealed that – on top of the many other concerns – Perrottet’s grant, for the ACTA to build a new club house and function centre, was expressly illegal under the Restart NSW Fund Act.

Perrottet made the grant from the Restart NSW Fund.

That was after earlier plans to have the funding come from the NSW Office of Sport were rejected by that department.

The Restart NSW Fund was created in 2011 to house funds from the NSW Government’s sale of “poles and wires” electricity infrastructure.

It is governed by the Restart NSW Fund Act 2011, which expressly stipulates the types of infrastructure projects that fund money can legally be used for.

Allowable projects include transport and roads infrastructure, health and public services infrastructure, infrastructure in areas “affected by mining operations” and infrastructure “required for the economic competitiveness of the State”.

As previously revealed in detail, the gun club grant meets none of these.

“How it is possible that a grant that was not eligible under the Restart NSW Fund Act, nor the guidelines for the RGTEF, nor meet benefit-cost ratio requirements from Infrastructure NSW, was approved?” – Penny Sharpe

Sharpe put four direct questions to Perrottet in the Legislative Assembly (the NSW upper house).

She asked: which of the “purposes” of the Restart Fund Act the grant satisfied; what criteria Perrottet had “used to sign off on the $5.5m grant”, given the RGTEF; “expressly stated that projects were not eligible” if they were “on private land and/or have exclusive private benefits”; and, whether Infrastructure NSW had provided Perrottet with information about their concerns, given the department had “raised concerns regarding the grant” because it was “not on public land” and “did not provide value for money”.

“Could the Minister please advise how it is possible that a grant that was not eligible under the Restart NSW Fund Act, nor the guidelines for the Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund, nor meet benefit-cost ratio requirements from Infrastructure NSW, was approved?” Sharpe asked.

The NSW state election is to be held on March 25.

WE HAVE A FAVOUR TO ASK: We receive zero government funding and are entirely funded by our readers. Investigations such as this take an enormous amount of time and effort. Our financial position is currently extremely tight. If you appreciated this article, and our high-quality investigative journalism, please DONATE HERE to help keep us afloat. Thank you very much for your support.

Anthony Klan,

Editor The Klaxon

Do you know more?

About the author

The Klaxon home

Help us get the truth out from as little as $10/month.

Experience the thrill of real money online casinos in South Africa reviewed by! Dive into a world of exciting games, lucrative bonuses, and immersive experiences. From classic table games to cutting-edge slots, there’s something for every player. Explore top-rated casinos with secure payment options and excellent customer support. Start your journey to big wins today!
Unleash the excitement of playing your favorite casino games from the comfort of your own home or on the go. With real money online casinos in South Africa, the possibilities are endless. Whether you’re into classic slots, progressive jackpots, or live dealer games, you’ll find it all at your fingertips. Join the millions of players enjoying the thrill of real money gambling and see if today is your lucky day!

The need for fearless, independent media has never been greater. Journalism is on its knees – and the media landscape is riddled with vested interests. Please consider subscribing for as little as $10 a month to help us keep holding the powerful to account.


The Klaxon. What's Actually Going On.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.


The Klaxon. What's Actually Going On.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.