Framing a training mine: ICAC

Drafting a submission for a prospective training mine was the task afforded to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Peter Demura, the Independent Commission against Corruption heard on Thursday.

In a meeting with ex-union boss John Maitland, entrepreneur Craig Ransley and director Michael Chester in December 2007 Demura noted ''need to demonstrate benefits and not a goldmine for entrepreneurs''

The note was taken down as an instruction for the creation of a submission to the state government on the Doyles Creek training mine.

The submission was intended for the then primary industries minister Ian Macdonald and requested an exploration licence be granted to the group over a lucrative coal tenement at Doyles Creek in the Hunter Valley.

It also requested the tender process to be waved because the licence would be used for the purposes of a training mine.

Macdonald granted the licence in 2008 against departmental advice and personally delivered the certificate to the consortium at an expensive dinner in Rose Bay, SMH reported.

The consortium’s actions, including Macdonald and Maitland’s involvement is currently under investigation for corrupt conduct by the ICAC.

The ICAC has previously heard Maitland made $13 million from his original $166,000 investment, while other investors made similar profits when the licence was sold for $50 million.

Counsel assisting ICAC, Peter Braham, SC, has alleged the training mine plan was just ''spin'' formulated to allow Macdonald to override department policy of putting large deposits up for tender.

Demura's notes record, under the heading ''minister requirements'', they needed to partner up with organisations like the University of Newcastle, Hunter Valley Training and Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Before preparing the submission Demura also noted '' incorrect discretion, therefore need for a compelling argument''.

In his submission he was unable to include any detail about the training proposal because he was not sent any information from the consortium.

''You'd really been given a lot of detail on mining, hadn't you?'' Braham asked.

"That's correct,'' Demura replied.

''But no detail on training, correct?'' Braham subsequently asked.

''Correct,'' he replied.

''Did it occur to you that your ultimate client had a very carefully and well-developed plan for mining but no plan for training?'' Braham said.

Demura responded saying “they hadn’t quite worked out the plan for training and we just left it out because the information wasn’t available”.

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