– Election eve split between Perrottet and Treasurer

– Schism over responsibility for illegal $5.5m grant

– Gun club grant at heart of ICAC probe that felled Berejiklian

– Perrottet made grant, sought to deflect responsibility to Kean

– Kean says Perrottet was Treasurer when grant approved




A rift has emerged between the NSW Premier and Treasurer on the eve of the state election, over Dominic Perrottet’s attempts to mask his ties to the scandal that felled his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian.

As previoulsy revealed, it was Perrottet, as NSW Treasurer, who approved the $5.5 million grant to the Wagga Wagga gun club that is the focus of an ongoing state corruption probe.

Perrottet has formally sought to deflect responsibility over the matter to NSW Treasurer Matt Kean — yet Kean’s office has fought back, pointing out it was Perrottet who was Treasurer when the $5.5m grant was approved.

“The Treasurer was obvioulsy not the Treasurer at the time this occurred,” a spokeswoman for Kean said Friday.

“The Treasurer was obvioulsy not the Treasurer at the time” — Matt Kean spokeswoman

As previously revealed, the grant was illegal because the project — $5.5m for a new club house and “convention centre” for a private gun club — did not meet the legal requirements for projects under the Restart NSW Fund Act.

The split between NSW’s two most powerful politicians draws the spotlight on Perrottet’s direct ties to the scandal, and comes ahead of Saturday’s NSW election.

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The $5.5m gun club grant, in August 2017, is a key focus of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) probe that saw Perrottet’s predecessor Gladys Berejiklian resign as NSW Premier.

How The Klaxon broke the story. Source: The Klaxon


The ICAC is yet to release the findings, drawing widespread criticism, given its public hearings ended in December 2021.

Following revelations by The Klaxon that it was Perrottet who approved the gun club grant — and that his doing so was illegal — Perrottet was asked about the matters in the NSW Parliament.

After taking the full 21 days to respond, Perrottet — remarkably – refused to provide answers and instead pointed to Kean, saying it was a matter for the “Treasurer”.

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

Yet Kean was only appointed NSW Treasurer in October 2021 — over four years after Perrottet approved the grant as NSW Treasurer in August 2017.

Questions put to Perrottet in NSW Parliament – and Perrotet’s responses. Source: NSW Parliament


Over five months after Perrottet deflected the matter, Kean has failed to provide any response to the questions, now pointing the finger back at Perrottet.

On Friday Kean’s office directed The Klaxon to NSW Treasury, which provided no response.

Leader of the Opposition in the NSW upper house Penny Sharpe has attacked Perrottet over his refusal to address the issues, describing his government as “addicted to secrecy”.

“After 12 years in office, the Premier and his ministers are addicted to secrecy and believe that accountability doesn’t apply to them,” Sharpe has told The Klaxon.

“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

It was Sharpe who put formal questions to Perrottet, in September, over his ties to the gun club scandal, including why he had issued the grant when it was illegal to do so.

Sharpe said Perrottet’s answers “thumb their nose” at the public.

“These answers thumb their nose at the community who are sick to their stomachs about pork barreling and favours for mates,” Sharpe said.

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

Perrottet refuses to answer Opposition questions. Source: The Klaxon


Sharpe told The Klaxon Friday that she had also received no response from Kean.

Perrottet approved the $5.5m gun club grant from the Restart NSW Fund.

The fund 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 $5.5m gun club grant meets none of them.

Despite the seriousness of the issues — that it was Perrottet who approved the gun club grant and that his doing so was illegal — ICAC did not interview Perrottet at its public hearings.

Both Perrottet and the ICAC have repeatedly refused to respond when asked whether Perrottet was interviewed in private.

ICAC refused to comment when asked whether it had been pressured by the Perrottet Government to hold off reporting its findings until after the March 25 election.

The ICAC’s filings show it has been conducting a secret side probe. Source: The Klaxon


In January the ICAC announced its findings would be delayed, for the third time, until the “second quarter” — which starts April 1.

Berejiklian resigned as NSW Premier in October 2021 after the ICAC announced she was formally under investigation under Operation Keppel.

The ICAC had been previously only formally “investigating” former NSW MP Daryl Maguire. Maguire heavily advocated for the $5.5m grant, as has been credited by the club — the Australian Clay Targets Association in Wagga Wagga NSW — for it receiving the money.

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

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

“Perrottet ‘just does as I ask him to do’ Berejiklian told Maguire in a recorded telephone conversation”

Berejiklian was appointed to a senior executive role at telco Optus in February last year, despite the ICAC’s ongoing investigations, by Optus CEO Kelly-Bayer Rosmarin, under chair Paul O’Sullivan.

As revealed by The Klaxon earlier this month, Optus made $69,900 in political “donations” last financial year — despite it being illegal for “foreign donors” to make payments of $100 or more to political parties.

Perrottet’s office has confirmed it was Perrottet who approved the $5,5m gun club grant, but both Perrottet and his office have repeatedly refused to comment when asked if the grant was legal — and if so, which of the requirements of the Restart NSW Fund Act it meets.

The ICAC has heard the 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”.

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Anthony Klan

Editor, The Klaxon

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