Former Labor MP Labelled A 'Sham' At Corruption Inquiry
Ernest Wong is struggling to live up to his name.
Instead of being earnest – or sincere – the former Labor MP’s evidence at Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was today described as “a sham” by the Chief Commissioner Peter Hall QC.
Wong was accused of lying several times in the ICAC hot seat today.
In 2016 he claims he was told a man called Steve Tong had been named as a NSW Labor Party donor but had never actually given a cent to the party.
He was an alleged “straw” or pretend donor.
Wong rang now-disgraced NSW ALP Party boss Kaila Murnain for an urgent meeting.
“What’s the drama?” the Commissioner asked Wong today.
“If it’s one donor it’s no big deal, that’s not going to bring the house down of the Labor Party is it?
“Why wouldn’t you just pick up the phone and say there’s a bit of a problem with a donor?”
In the hot seat, Wong said he’d heard rumours there were other people who may be investigated by the Electoral Commission over alleged dodgy donations.
ICAC is investigating whether $100,000 cash given to the NSW ALP in an ALDI bag was really from banned donor, Chinese billionaire property developer Huang Xiangmo.
The Commissioner was not satisfied with Wong’s answer.
“What was the urgency?” the Commissioner asked him.
“Why call an urgent meeting … with Ms Murnain on a Friday evening at six-o'clock or thereabouts to talk about one man who may not be a true donor?
“What. Was. The. Urgency?”
Wong responded by asking the Commissioner if he was suggesting he should have waited a week or two, which prompted a sharp response from the ICAC Chief.
“I’m suggesting you pick up the phone and say; ‘Kaila, you may have a problem here, I’m just giving you a head’s up’?”
Wong insisted it was an urgent matter, he wanted to get ALP legal advice for Tong.
“Why would the Labor Party be shelling out dollars to get him legal advice, somebody they really didn’t know,” the Commissioner probed before going for the jugular.
“Were you worried Mr Tong was going to spill the beans about the donations?” the Commissioner asked.
“No,” Wong responded.
“Mr Tong might reveal some truth about the illegality of the donations given?”
“That was not on my mind,” Wong said.