The NSW Government had a desperate last minute push to shut down this week's explosive public hearings of ICAC. The failed effort is revealed in an ICAC ruling on ICAC's use of cabinet documents that expose exactly the inner workings of the Coalition government.
The hearings into former Premier Gladys Berejiklian's role in two highly controversial grants have focused on a series of briefings and other documents that were considered by the NSW Cabinet when it approved the two grants.
In a pre-hearing legal tussle with ICAC the NSW Premier's Department tried to keep all these documents secret and to prohibit any discussion of them in public hearings. The push for secrecy by the NSW Coalition Government only became public with the publishing of ICAC's ruling on the matter this week.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said: "It is extraordinary, but hardly surprising, that the NSW Government tried to shut down this week's public hearing in ICAC.
"This government is addicted to secrecy, and as the evidence unfolds, we can understand why.
"Had the Premier's department succeeded then the public would still be in the dark about why so much public money was lavished on these highly questionable projects. No doubt this is exactly what Liberal Party wanted.
"We can see from the ruling that the push for secrecy from the Premier's Department was as recent as last week, under the leadership of the new Premier Dominic Perrottet.
"The question is who in the government authorised the Premier's Department to try and keep these cabinet documents, and all the evidence we have now heard about them, secret?
"There is so much wrong with the way this government hands out public money.
"What we desperately need is a whole lot of transparency and sunshine, and thankfully that's exactly what we are getting with ICAC right now."
In ruling that the cabinet in confidence documents could be made public, and that evidence about them could be given in a public hearing, the ICAC Commissioner rejected the submission by the Premier's Department "that any evidence about documents which relate to the contents of Cabinet Documents or of Cabinet Deliberations should be heard in private."
Had the submission been accepted, this week's public hearings would instead have been held in secret, keeping the public in the dark about exactly how and why so much public money was diverted to these projects.