Former billionaire coal magnate Nathan Tinkler has told a corruption hearing he makes political donations because he is “such a great guy”.
In the witness stand on Friday as part of a wider investigation into alleged Liberal Party slush funds, Tinkler faced questions over whether his Buildev property development group donated $60,000 to a secret Liberal Party slush fund before the 2011 state election.
The money was allegedly used to bankroll Newcastle Liberal MP Tim Owen’s successfully election campaign.
Tinkler denied any involvement or knowledge of Buildev’s donation to Eightbyfive, an alleged scam company formed to accept political donations.
In a day of intense questioning, Tinkler said himself and business partner Troy Palmer quit the Buildev board as result of the ICAC allegations.
However Tinkler did admit giving $53,000 to the Free Enterprise Foundation, a company allegedly also used to “disguise donations from prohibited donors”.
He also admitted handing over $50,000 to the Newcastle Alliance Group, which manoeuvred to oust then ALP MP Jodi McKay at the 2011 NSW election.
And while Tinkler admitted he wanted McKay to lose the election, he denied any knowledge his money was used to pay for a smear campaign against her, The Guardian reported.
He said he made the donation in the hope a proposed billion dollar coal loader facility in Newcastle would “get a hearing”.
Tinkler told the ICAC he doesn’t view himself as a property developer so his donations are not prohibited.
Former police minister Mike Gallacher, who was the minister for the Hunter, quit in early May after it was alleged he "hatched a corrupt scheme" with Buildev executive Darren Williams to move money into the Eightbyfive fund.
ICAC heard that four minutes after Williams was told to "ask Nathan" which entity to give Gallacher, Williams called Tinkler.
Tinkler said Williams probably called to talk about “footy scores” and not Eightbyfive.
Tinkler told the inquiry that donations he had given to the Nationals party were made at the request of former deputy prime minister and current Whitehaven Coal chairman, Mark Vaile
“He advised me on all those donations,” Tinkler said.
The ICAC hearing continues this week.