Tony Abbott's Chief Of Staff Named In Suppressed Corruption Inquiry Emails

Prime minister Tony Abbott and his chief of staff Peta Credlin. Image: Screenshot.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, who is married to Brian Loughnane, the Liberal Party’s federal director, is featured in a number of suppressed emails, revealed at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) this morning.

The SMH’s Kate McClymont reports that the emails “raise serious concerns about major donors to the Liberal Party being rewarded with extraordinary access to senior party figures”.

The 2011 emails, from NSW Liberal Party fundraiser Paul Nicolaou to Credlin, then chief advisor to the opposition leader, were suppressed after lawyers for Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who is appearing before the inquiry, raised concerns that they might be protected under parliamentary privilege.

Parliamentary speaker Bronwyn Bishop ruled they were not and commissioner Megan Latham lifted the suppression order.

The emails concern brick manufacturer and developer Brickworks, who donated $384,000 to the Liberal Party in the nine months to April 2011.

The ICAC is interested because donations were also sent through the Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation to fund the NSW Liberal campaign in the 2011 state election.

Mark Neeham, former state director of the NSW Liberal Party, is currently in the witness box at the ICAC, and is being questioned about the role of the Free Enterprise Foundation.

Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, who resigned over ICAC revelations, will return to the witness box tomorrow.

There’s more here.

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