Secret government documents have revealed the true extent of the Mambo Wetlands debacle, with Liberal Duty MLC Catherine Cusack now facing allegations of misleading Parliament.
In a speech to Parliament on Tuesday 21 November 2017, Catherine Cusack accused Port Stephens MP Kate Washington of ‘failing to advocate the environmental values of the site’. She also argued Ms Washington had lobbied the wrong Minister, and suggested Ms Washington was to blame for not making the community’s strong opposition known to the Government.
However, GIPA documents obtained by the Member for Port Stephens show these claims were blatant lies designed to mislead the community and shift the blame away from the Liberals.
Government briefing documents prepared prior to the auction being approved clearly detail the community opposition to the sale, and specifically mention Kate Washington’s advocacy against the selloff.
Ms Cusack’s claim that the wrong Minister was lobbied was also a lie, with the Minister for Education shown in the documents to have approved the sale. The Minister also received the $250,000 cheque from the property developer which was made out to the ‘Minister for Education’.
In fact, the official roles and responsibilities of the relevant agencies were illustrated in a table contained within the GIPA documents, with the Department of Education specifically responsible for Departmental, Ministerial and Cabinet approvals, as well as stakeholder engagement.
Shadow Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Penny Sharpe MLC, this morning moved a motion in Parliament condemning Catherine Cusack and requesting an unqualified apology for misleading Parliament.
Quotes attributable to Kate Washington MP
“Catherine Cusack has been caught out lying to our community. She desperately tried to shift the blame away from the Liberal Government, but these documents prove they knew all along that the community strongly opposed the sale.
“It wasn’t that the Liberal Government didn’t know – they just didn’t care. And then Catherine Cusack had the hide to blame me for her own Government’s appalling decision.
“These documents prove Catherine Cusack will say and do anything to protect, promote and defend the Liberal Party. She just cannot be trusted to tell the truth.
“Ms Cusack should apologise for her blatant lies in Parliament, and start focusing on fixing her Government’s ‘mistake’ by returning the land to public hands.
“This land should never have been sold. Two years on and we’re still waiting for the Liberal Government to fix their mess.”
This item was distributed as a media release on Thursday 27 September 2018.