NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian faces a scandal in her administration after the corruption watchdog confirmed that a public inquiry into Drummoyne MP John Sidoti was about to take place

Mr Sidoti, the former Sports Minister, has been banned from the front bank for more than 18 months while the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) conducted a preliminary investigation

At her COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday morning, Ms. Berejiklian said she had a very brief interview with Mr. Sidoti and he offered to step down from the cabinet

When asked whether it was appropriate for Mr Sidoti to remain as a member of the government, Ms Berejiklian said she would review the mandate of the investigation and seek advice

“There is a due process that must be followed and I need to seek advice as to what the matter is,” she said

In a statement released a short time later, Ms. Berejiklian confirmed that she had turned to Mr. Sidoti “to request his resignation as minister and he has duly resigned”

On Wednesday morning, the ICAC confirmed that it would initiate a four-week public inquiry into allegations that the Drummoyne MP “has improperly manipulated another person or persons in order to dishonest or partial” one of their official development control and reallocation functions exercise “of several land blocks at Five Dock

The revelation will force Ms. Berejiklian to reorganize her cabinet or give Mr. Sidoti’s portfolios to other ministers

ICAC said it would also investigate whether Mr. Sidoti “has committed a breach of public confidence by failing to provide a number of financial interests disclosures that meet his constitutional (member disclosure) obligations 1983, NSW, contrary to Parliament’s Code of Conduct for Members and Ministers’ Code of Conduct ”

The investigation relates to Mr. Sidoti’s ownership interests in Five Dock near a future subway location

In September 2019, the House of Lords passed a motion to refer Mr. Sidoti to the ICAC, which was subsequently blocked in the House of Commons

A week later, the NSW union leader referred Jodi McKay herself to the ICAC Chief Commissioner Peter Hall replied a few days later that a preliminary investigation had been initiated

Ms McKay on Wednesday called on the Prime Minister to remove Mr Sidoti from the Liberal Party

“It should show that nothing is more important than integrity and people’s trust in government,” Ms. McKay said of the allegations

“At least she has to dismiss him from the Liberal Party. He has to leave the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister has to show leadership”

Green anti-corruption spokesman Jamie Parker said the NSW Liberal and Labor parties were putting unprecedented pressure on ICAC’s resources

“And when ICAC needs more funding, they have to go to the Prime Minister’s Department to request it. This is a huge conflict of interest that cannot be endured”

David Shoebridge, Green MP in the House of Lords, said 10 out of 12 ICAC requests to increase funding had been rejected by the Prime Minister’s department in the past decade

“We need transparent, open and genuine funding for the ICAC, and if there has ever been a case, it is the fact that it took the ICAC 18 months to open this investigation into Mr Sidoti””

Mr Sidoti surrendered his ministerial salary and entitlements for an indefinite period pending the outcome of the preliminary hearing

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John Sidoti

World News – AU – Sidoti resigns from cabinet after ICAC starts public hearing

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/icac-to-launch-public-hearing-into-sidelined-minister-john-sidoti-20210303-p577c9.html