Government cover up on $5 billion fund


The Turnbull Government is covering up conflicts of interest of a board member managing a $5 billion development fund for Northern Australia – the NAIF.

For the second time, the Government has refused to answer questions regarding the Minister for Northern Australia’s friend and NAIF board member Karla Way McPhail.

It has been revealed that Ms Way McPhail:

  • Is a personal friend of the Minister for Northern Australia
  • Was recommended for appointment to the board by the Minister for Northern Australia
  • Regularly attends LNP fundraisers
  • Is the CEO of two companies and the director of a third that could stand to benefit from funding approved by the board of which she is a member
  • Refused to say if she has participated in discussions on funding applications for which she has a conflict of interest.

The NAIF’s conflicts of interest policy requires Board Members to declare their interests and recuse themselves from discussions if there is a conflict of interest.

In Estimates two weeks ago, Labor asked if Ms McPhail had declared conflicts of interest and if she had recused herself from board discussions where a potential conflict of interest may arise.

The Government refused to answer those questions.

Today, Labor asked those questions again and again the Government refused to answer.

What is the Government hiding? This is $5 billion of taxpayers’ money and they deserve to know what is going on.

This is not good governance. This is a cover-up.

To get to the bottom of this and to make the NAIF operate better, Labor has:

  • Asked the Australian National Audit Office to investigate the NAIF
  • Set up a Senate Inquiry into the NAIF’s governance, its processes and how it manages conflicts of interest.

The Government voted today to try and stop the Senate Inquiry going ahead.

What does Malcolm Turnbull have to hide?