New South Wales

Apr 29, 2014

The South Korean miner that really cashed in under Barry O’Farrell

There are plenty of stories of failure in the ICAC hearings -- but what about the companies who did well under the NSW government?

Paddy Manning

Crikey business editor

For all the skullduggery being revealed at the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, Liberal Party donor Australian Water Holdings did not succeed in getting up its coveted $1 billion public-private partnership to deliver water infrastructure in Sydney's north-west. And former billionaire Nathan Tinkler did not succeed in getting up his own $2 billion coal loader at Mayfield in Newcastle. The company that really did get traction was South Korean miner Kores, which engaged Liberal donor Nick di Girolamo's lobbying firm Westin Strategic Consulting and somehow managed to convince ex-premier Barry O'Farrell and his then-energy minister Chris Hartcher to execute a spectacular backflip and entertain approving the hugely controversial Wallarah 2 coal project on the Central Coast. Spectacular is an understatement. The soon-to-be-premier's commitment to stop the Wallarah 2 underground mine ahead of the March 2011 state election was unequivocal, in writing, and by the government's own admission had a dramatic impact on the Liberal Party's electoral fortunes in what was traditionally a staunch Labor area. At a rally organised on behalf of the Liberal Party at Woodbury Park on the Central Coast on January 29 in 2009, O'Farrell said:
"The next Liberal-National government will not allow mining to occur here, will not allow mining to occur in any water catchment. Mining leases and mining permits will reflect that common sense. No ifs, no buts, a guarantee."
The next day O'Farrell confirmed in a thank-you email to rally organiser and mine opponent Alan Hayes, campaign director of the Australian Coal Association:
"I especially appreciate the opportunity to re-iterate the Liberal Party’s opposition to the coal mining proposal and our determination, in office, to prevent it from going ahead."
In December that year, in another email to Hayes, Chris Spence -- then staffer to Hartcher (and now sitting MP) -- approved the distribution at the Central Coast Mardi Gras of ACA brochures, urging a vote for the Coalition including the words:
"The LIBERALS POLICY is that there will be NO LONGWALL COAL MINING beneath our drinking water catchment valleys."
Liberal candidate Darren Webber wore his red "Water Not Coal" T-Shirt on the float, and he wore it proudly again -- alongside O'Farrell, Hartcher and three other local candidates -- in a much-replayed photo, taken out the front of Webber's campaign office on January 16, 2011 ...

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5 thoughts on “The South Korean miner that really cashed in under Barry O’Farrell

  1. MJPC

    Thankfully, the photo will come to haunt all of the grinning idiots (and their party) is the coming year, particularly leading up to the election.
    I know many could write an advertising campaign in opposition to the election of such imposters.
    Never trust a politician who wears a t-shirt expressing a environmental stand unless it is worn by a Greens candidate (the only party in NSW politics with integiry it appears).
    All going well, Citizen O’Farrell will have another day (or several) in ICAC explaining the content of this article. A pox on all of them!

  2. JohnB

    ICAC – the gift that keeps on giving.

    How about a permanent ICAC tribunal to keep an eye on the relationship between the political gatekeepers and the spoils of office?

    Of course there will never be… just whishing. Silly me.

  3. Malcolm Street

    Pass the popcorn, folks… ICAC’s the best show in town.

  4. AR

    My constant joy is that ICAC snags far more tories than anyone else, despite being set up by Chief Allegator of the 80s Greiner specifically to hunt the Nifty & his mates for their scandalrillos.
    Could be a reason for that, apart from not taking Joh’s axiom, “never set up an enquiry until you know the result”.

  5. klewso

    “Roll on, O’Farrell….”?

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