MPs questions whether Cansdell falsified more documents
QUESTIONS have been raised in the NSW Parliament whether former MP Steve Cansdell falsified more than one statuary declaration to avoid traffic offences while he was the Member for Clarence.
Upper house Labor MPs Mick Veitch and Luke Foley aired the allegations this week in separate questions to Roads Minister Duncan Gay.
On Tuesday, Mr Veitch asked: "Has the Minister received any information, verbal or written, suggesting that the former member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, may have falsely nominated other drivers to cop the blame for traffic offences committed by him on more than one occasion? If so, did the Minister refer that information to the police? If not, why not?"
Mr Gay's reply was to the point: "No and no."
The next day, Luke Foley asked Mr Gay: "Has the minister's office or department received any information or advice that would suggest the former member for Clarence, Mr Steve Cansdell, may have falsely nominated other drivers to shift the blame for traffic offences on more than one occasion?"
On this occasion Mr Gay's response was a little more expansive.
"I was asked a very similar, but not the same, question yesterday. I was asked 'had I' and my answer was no," he said.
"The question was about my office or my department, so I will take it on notice and find out whether there is such information. To the best of my knowledge, there is not."
Mr Gay's office told APN Newsdesk he was yet to follow up the matter.
Mr Cansdell resigned as the Member for Clarence and parliamentary secretary for police in September last year after he admitted to signing a false statutory declaration that one of his staff members, Kath Palmer, was driving when he was caught speeding in 2005.
Despite his admission, NSW police last week said no charges would be laid against Mr Cansdell because Ms Palmer had declined to comment, a claim she has denied.
Ms Palmer has called for an independent inquiry into the investigation.
In the lower house on Tuesday, Labor MP Helen Westwood asked Police Minister Michael Gallacher what steps he was taking to "ensure that a full and proper investigation is undertaken into the handling of the Steve Cansdell matter after the lawyer for the woman who blew the whistle publicly contradicted earlier suggestions that Mr Cansdell had escaped justice because she had refused to be interviewed?".
Mr Gallacher told Ms Westwood: "If the member has concerns about the conduct of that investigation and she has reason to believe that something untoward happened, I suggest that she refer the matter to the Ombudsman. I have answered the question fully."
The Police Minister also took a question from Labor's Steve Whan, who asked whether he would act to close the "legal loophole" that led to Mr Cansdell not being charged.
Mr Gallacher referred Mr Whan to his earlier answer.
In March, NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith said Mr Cansdell could not be charged under state law because he had signed a Commonwealth statutory declaration.
But it was revealed last week the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions was "not satisfied that a Commonwealth offence was involved".