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NSW Govt denies knowledge of Cansdell allowance allegations

Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner
Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner Adam Hourigan

COALITION leaders have told the State Parliament they were not aware of allegations that former Clarence MP Steve Cansdell rorted a staff allowance to help the Nationals during the 2010 federal election campaign.

It was revealed this week that the Independent Commission Against Corruption referred the allegations to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Shelley Hancock in November, two months after Mr Cansdell resigned from politics for falsely signing a statutory declaration to avoid a speeding fine.

Allegations of the potential rort were made to ICAC by Kath Palmer, who said she was required to work on Kevin Hogan's campaign in the federal seat of Page.

Mr Cansdell was allegedly claiming a staff allowance for Ms Palmer at the time.

Mr Hogan told APN paper The Daily Examiner this week he "assumed she was volunteering".

Ms Hancock, who as Speaker was Ms Palmer's employer, told Fairfax this week she decided in November not to act on the information referred to her by ICAC "since verification of the material would be difficult".

But the Liberal MP for South Coast has now asked parliamentary officers to review the material, which according to Fairfax included Ms Palmer's work diaries and claim forms.

During question time on Thursday, Opposition Leader John Robertson asked Premier Barry O'Farrell and his deputy Andrew Stoner separately whether the Speaker alerted either, or anyone in their offices, about the allegations relating to the staff allowance.

Mr Stoner said the question contained "some fairly inflammatory and inaccurate terminology", and then set about outlining the sequence of events relating to the false statutory declaration.

He concluded his answer by saying: "As to whether I have had any conversations with the Speaker in relation to these matters, as I have reported to the House on previous occasions the answer is simple, no."

Mr O'Farrell said: "No, I had no knowledge. There was no consultation prior to the (Fairfax) report today.

"I certainly did talk to the Speaker after I saw the report today and she repeated what was published in today's paper.

"There was no prior conversation or contact with me or my staff about the Independent Commission Against Corruption matter."

The Opposition then failed to have standing orders suspended to allow Ms Hancock to make a statement to the Parliament about the matter.

Topics:  coalition, nsw government, o'farrell government, steve cansdell


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