ICAC probes donation of $100,000

MONEY TROUBLES: Richard Torbay has been referred to ICAC, this time over a $100,000 donation.RICHARD Torbay has again been referred to the anti-corruption watchdog, this time for a $100,000 donation to his election campaign.

The donation was made by Sydney businessman Cameron McCullagh and his wife Georgina shortly after Mr Torbay, then member for Northern Tablelands, organised a meeting between Mr McCullagh and then planning minister Tony Kelly.

NSW Greens MLC John Kaye said he had sent a dossier of documents to the Independent Commission Against Corruption relating to the donation, first reported by The Express.

The donation was made by Mr McCullagh, who sought the lifting of an interim heritage listing placed on his $3.8 million Sydney mansion Peroomba, according to documents obtained by Dr Kaye.

The paper trail, which includes emails and correspondence between Mr Torbay, Mr McCullagh, Mr Kelly’s office and department officials, started in 2010.

Mr Mr Cullagh wrote to Mr Torbay: “Richard, I would greatly appreciate any assistance you can give in arranging a meeting with Minister Kelly.”

That meeting was set up within days. Mr McCullagh successfully lobbied to have the heritage order lifted, paving the way for the 1938 home in Warrawee to be demolished.

Four months later, in December, 2010, Australian Electroal Commission records show Mrs McCullagh’s private company, GEMC, donated $100,000 to Mr Torbay.

When asked last year about the donation, Mr McCullagh told The Express Mr Torbay was “highly effective and the sort of person I want in politics”.

Yesterday, Dr Kaye said Mr McCullagh’s comments had become “part of the zeitgeist of politics”.

“Subsequent events have thrown a very different light on Mr McCullagh’s comments,” Mr Kaye said.

Yesterday, Mr Torbay remained in hiding and calls by Fairfax Media to the McCullaghs were left unanswered.

Mr Torbay, believed to have returned to Armidale, has had his landline and mobile phone lines disconnected. The phone at his former electorate office went to voicemail and a spokeswoman later emailed The Express claiming “the office is not in contact with Richard”.

Dr Kaye said he had worked with Mr Torbay during his tenure at Parliament and in his role as chancellor of the University of New England

He said he had been shocked by Mr Torbay’s abrupt departure from politics and subsequent referral to ICAC.

Dr Kaye said he had not spoken with Mr Torbay since and had not heard from Mr McCullagh.

He said his dossier regarding the donation and the meeting amounted to about 100 pages of correspondence and he was in the process of lodging the information with ICAC.

Dr Kayesaid he did not know when the matter would be assessed by ICAC.

He referred the matter to the commission because Mr Toraby’s seat was hundreds of kilometres away from Peroomba and the residential address of its owners.

“The subsequent campaign donation raises legitimate questions,” he said.

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