Labor refers Ayres to ICAC for $12m sports promise
Labor has referred MP Stuart Ayres to the corruption commission over his $12 million campaign promise to the Penrith Panthers to build sports facilities that were used to finance a conference centre.
It comes after revelations Mr Ayres did not disclose his membership of the club, took thousands in donations from the Panthers, pushed for the deal to go through weeks before the 2019 election and insisted his signature be taken off the funding agreement.
Penrith MP Stuart Ayres at NSW Parliament estimates answering questions about $12m funding from his sports department. CREDIT:JAMES BRICKWOOD
Donations worth $4500 from Penrith Panthers in the lead up to the 2015 election had "absolutely" no effect on the decision to make a $12 million election commitment to a sports and conference centre at the club, Mr Ayres said.
"Panthers haven't made a donation in return for investment," the former sports minister said on Tuesday. "I think if you went back over time you'd see that they have donated to many local members across both sides of politics."
The Panthers have only donated to the NSW Liberal Party and Mr Ayres since 2005, giving $26,050, NSW electoral commission data shows.
The last donation Panthers made to Mr Ayres or the Liberal Party was in November 2015.
NSW opposition minister for sport Lynda Voltz said she had referred Mr Ayres to the Independent Commission Against Corruption because he had "improperly exercised his functions".
"Mr Ayres had significant support from the Penrith Panthers during the 2015 campaign," Ms Voltz said.
"If Mr Ayres thought it was such an issue that he did not declare his membership to the club that he got their funding agreement cancelled so that the CEO of sport could sign it, he should follow the federal sports minister Bridget McKenzie's lead and resign [due to the sports rorts affair]."
Mr Ayres told budget estimates on Tuesday that he was advised because the $12 million was an election commitment, his Panthers membership "could not be a conflict of interest because there was no choice between Penrith Panthers and some other entity".
Acting NSW minister for sport Geoff Lee said he will "look into" the decisions made by Mr Ayres.
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/lab ... 5491o.html