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Berejiklian wanted the grant application for Maguire’s voters to be expedited, the investigation said


ICAC advisor Scott Robertson arrives for the ICAC investigation in Sydney.Credit:Janie Barrett

Mr Doorn said he had concerns about the arms club’s business case and had never been told why it was so urgent to take the motion to the government’s spending committee on December 16.

He said he was ultimately surprised to learn that funding was approved as the project had been rated as a “low priority” by the department back in 2012.

“We were surprised that it was funded,” said Doorn, adding that he and his bureaucrats “didn’t think it would pile up” and that the proposal lacks the necessary controls and balances.

Mr Doorn told the Commission that his department had shared their concerns with Mr Ayres about the project, but agreed with the attorney who supported Scott Robertson that it would have been a “career limiting move” to continue advising against it.

“One of the things you have to do as a senior official is strike the balance between open and fearless advice and then … do your best to support the political goal,” he said.

Mr Doorn said he had no idea about Ms Berejiklian’s relationship with Mr Maguire until he saw media reports after hearing the first phase of the same ICAC investigation last year.

He agreed that the relationship would have been a “red flag” at the time he was running the gun club’s grant process given the “public sector country rules” on conflict of interest disclosure.

“If that were a known fact, the first thing you would do would be yours [department] Secretary … then organizations like ICAC would be made aware, ”he said.

The commission also heard that then Prime Minister Mike Baird’s office was concerned about why the club grant was being rushed and asked why it couldn’t be postponed until the New Year to allow time for market testing and project planning.


Additional documents filed on Tuesday included transcripts of a previously secret hearing with former NSW government strategy advisor, Zach Bentley.

Mr Bentley told the ICAC that he believed Nigel Blunden, chief of strategy for Mr Baird, “asked why we are giving money to an association of clay audiences in … a relatively safe seat”.

Mr Bentley also said he had communicated with an “abrupt” Mr Maguire during the relevant period describing phone calls in which the former MP said words that “the damned thing will be fixed. You know, I really need that for my constituents. “

Mr Blunden and Mr Baird will both appear before the Commission on Wednesday and Mr Ayres will appear on Friday. None of the three men is accused of wrongdoing.


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