NSW Labor general secretary Kaila Murnain is set to be suspended after admitting during an anti-corruption probe that she neglected to mention a possibly illegal donation made to the ALP by a Chinese billionaire.
According to Murnain, who was speaking to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, she learned of the donation in September 2016 from upper house MP Ernest Wong.
Wong allegedly told her that the donation in question had come from Huang Xiangmo, a prohibited donor, whereas they initially believed the donor to be someone else.
“At some point I responded back to him, ‘What the shit?’” Murnain recalled in her testimony, adding, “I do remember stepping back and realising what all this meant. That a significant donor had made a donation to our state campaign account who was a prohibited donor.”
She said she went to see the party’s lawyer, Ian Robertson, telling him there had “been a massive fuck-up.”
That’s when she says she was told to keep it to herself:
“At the end of the conversation, Ian told me, ‘There is no need to do anything from here, don’t record this meeting, don’t put it in your diary, forget the conversation happened with Ernest and I won’t be billing you for this either.’ And [he said] ‘Don’t tell anyone about it’. So I literally didn’t tell anyone about it.”
Following the explosive testimony, NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay immediately began doing damage control, vowing to “clean up the mess.” She recommended that Murnain be suspended, stating: “I no longer have confidence in her judgment.”
“The inquiry earlier in the week heard Mr Huang allegedly handed $100,000 cash in a plastic Aldi shopping bag to NSW Labor’s then-general secretary Jamie Clements a few weeks after the March 2015 CFL dinner.
“The money was registered as a series of $5000 donations to NSW Labor and Country Labor by 12 donors most of whom were associated with CFL convenor Jonathan Yee, the inquiry has heard.
ICAC is examining whether Mr Huang – who is now banned from Australia – was the true source of the $100,000 said to have been raised at the dinner.”
The law prohibits property developers like Huang from contributing funds to NSW parties. Murnain’s testimony will resume tomorrow.