Ousted Labor MP Cries At ICAC; ALP Colleagues Undermined Her For Resisting Nathan Tinkler Donations

Former Labor MP Jodi McKay during her time as tourism minister. Photo: Getty

Former Newcastle MP and Minister for Tourism and the Hunter Jodi McKay broke down in the witness box at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) today after it was revealed that former Labor colleagues, including Joe Tripodi, were behind 2011 election flyers designed to destroy her re-election chances.

They sought revenge because Ms McKay opposed plans by mining developer Nathan Tinkler to develop a coal facility on Newcastle’s former BHP site. She also refused to accept secret, illegal donations from him.

“I’m sorry to cry. You don’t want to cry,” she said after ICAC investigators showed her the flyer which appeared on election eve and counsel assisting told her Tripodi and Tinkler were behind attempts to undermine her. It was towards the end of her testimony and she said it was the first time her suspicions had been confirmed.
“I believed they were behind it,” she said.

McKay lost her seat to the Liberals after 80 years of ALP control.

Former Labor Treasurer Eric Roozendaal was also implicated in this latest twist to the latest ICAC investigation into Liberal MP Chris Hartcher and allegations about undisclosed political donations from companies and prohibited donors.

Ms McKay told the ICAC that Mr Tinkler offered secret donations towards her 2011 campaign, but she “shut him down”.

The now-broke former billionaire wanted her support, as the minister responsible for the Hunter Development Corporation, for his billion-dollar proposal, but she refused and had until that point refused to me with him about it because he donated $50,000 towards her 2007 campaign.

She refused any donations because he was a developer, but Mr Tinkler said he could avoid a ban on developer contributions by channelling the funds via his employees “to get around the rules”.

“It does sound to me like a bribe,” said junior counsel assisting Greg O’Mahoney.

Ms McKay said it “felt like he wanted my support and he wanted to buy that”.

Asked if “bribe” was another word for it, she said “Yes”.

Shortly after a conversation with then-treasurer Eriz Roozendaal in the lead up to the 2011 election, explaining she wouldn’t support Tinkler’s plan, Treasury documents were leaked to Newcastle media to damage her.

Ms McKay said she contacted Mr Roozendaal again but he denied any involvement.

“I said to him ‘I will not support what you are doing. I will not be a part of what you are doing.’,” she told the ICAC, adding that she thought Mr Roozendaal was afraid the ICAC was already listening in.

“Something was very wrong in the treasurer’s office. He knew it and I knew it,” she said.

Outside the ICAC after giving evidence Ms McKay said the experience was “cleansing” after a 3-year wait.

“I can now move on and never go back to politics,” the former journalist said.

Hearings continues tomorrow with former Tinkler Group CFO Troy Palmer among those who expected to appear in the witness box.

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