Perrottet’s Russian squat dance

at the expense of NSW taxpayers

While the war in the Ukraine rages, and a would-be world dictator, who is as ‘mad as a box of frogs’, tries to justify his actions as protecting “Russia from foreign invasion”, the Grapevine can reveal that Dominic Perrottet’s government invested $75 million in a dictatorship that is being run by an ex KGB henchman.

10 June 2022

ALAN HAYES

 

AUSTRALIAN’S are being told to tighten their belts, expect the worst with rising mortgage interest rates, pay exorbitant prices for their weekly shop and for petrol to fuel their cars, yet the Perrottet Government has quietly been investing in dictatorships that will now add to the financial woes of not only the State but to hip pocket of everyday families.

 

The Grapevine can now confirm that that Dominic Perrottet’s NSW Generations Fund is facing losses totalling $30 million after the assets it bought in Vladimir Putin’s Russia were trapped following the Ukrainian invasion.

 

The government has confirmed that a $30 million write-off is looming in answers it gave to questions asked in the NSW Parliament.

 

The public is entitled to feel disappointed in an investment strategy gone wrong and scratch their heads in disbelief as to why Dominic Perrottet believed that investing in dictatorships’ was a good deal.

 

NSW is $30 million poorer as a result of this bad decision – bad decisions that continue to plague this current state government; buying trains and ferries from overseas instead of supporting Australian manufacturing and Australian jobs.

 

NSW Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said “the government should never have tried to profit from the regime of a warmonger.”

 

Dominic Perrotett created the NSW Generation’s Fund in 2015, as Treasurer. He seeded it with $10 billion using the State’s last budget surplus, as well as funds from privatising WestConnex.

 

Concerns were first raised by the opposition October last year about a series of controversial investments.

 

The fund was found to have invested at least $225 million in dictatorships, tax haven countries with records of human rights abuses, or are classified as not "free”:

 

  • Angola
  • $15 million

 

  • Cayman Islands
  • $30 million

 

  • Egypt
  • $45 million

 

  • Russia
  • $75 million

 

  • Saudi Arabia
  • $45 million

 

  • UAE
  • $15 million

 

“We’re disappointed that Mr. Kean didn’t adopt our policy of divesting from Russia when we first raised it last year,” Mr. Mookhey said.

 

“The government should have acted sooner.”

 

Had the NSW Treasurer Matt Kean listened to Labor’s suggestion, NSW would be at least $30 million richer – instead taxpayer’s money has been fritted away by a government that supports regimes that shouldn’t be on the ‘Blue Ribbon’ investment list.

 

So, while families reel at the worse than expected interest rate hike – up half a percent, which will impact of those with mortgages as well as renters – people are scratching their heads on how they can tighten their belts even further. The last time there was an interest rate this high NSW was talking about the Sydney Olympics and the internet was just taking off, mobile phones were just beginning to boom.

 

But it gets even worse for NSW workers’, with Dominic Perrottet’s ICARE blowout - a $1.2 billion explosion in the size of the deficit in the state’s main workers compensation scheme will force the premiums paid by 3.2 million businesses to sky-rocket.

 

iCare’s documents show that the deficit in the nominal insurer had risen to a whopping $1.46 billion as of 31 December 2021. That deficit was $242 million just six months earlier.

 

NSW Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said the exploding deficit was proof that nothing is changing at Dominic Perrotett’s scandal-plagued insurer.

 

“This result is a disaster. iCare continues to lose employers’ money hand-over-fist,” Mr. Mookhey said.

 

"Premier Perrottet needs to take responsibility for this fiasco. iCare’s performance is getting worse, not better.

 

“Premiums are already set to climb by 40 percent by the end of the decade. They will come under even more pressure after this massive loss.”

 

The Perrottet government blocked Labor from abolishing lavish bonuses for future iCare executives last month. Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, Sophie Costis vowed to again move to end iCare’s bonus culture.

 

“These losses are a punch in the guts for mum and dad businesses as well as injured workers,” Ms. Costis said.

 

The whistle was blown on iCare years ago, yet injured workers and employers still have to pay for iCare’s continuing mismanagement.

 

“If the NSW Government wants to rebuild the trust of workers and employers they must end iCare’s toxic bonus culture and pass Labor’s reforms,” said Ms. Costis.

 

Under Dominic Perrottet's stewardship:

 

  • iCare underpaid 52,000 workers up to $80 million

 

  • iCare underpaid 1300 dust disease victims up to $93 million.

 

  • iCare is increasing employer premiums by at least 40% over the next decade.

 

  • iCare racked up underwriting losses totalling $4.94 billion in the three years to June 2021, resulting in the destruction iCare’s $3.9 billion surplus.

 

  • Treasurer Dominic Perrottet had to rush approval of $4 billion emergency bailout of the iCare managed workers compensation fund which was protecting NSW’s police officers, paramedics, nurses and teachers, after it came within 23 minutes of plunging into a crisis in June last year.

 

  • In May 2022, 193,000 injured workers had their personal information leaked by email to hundreds of employers in a mass privacy breach blamed on ‘human error’. Despite Labor calls for an independent investigation, no action has been taken.

 

  • iCare tried to introduce a 'gap fee' for injured workers needing to see a doctor last year.

 

  • iCare awarded its new CEO a $120,000 pay rise in early 2022, making him NSW’s highest paid public servant.

 

  • Senior Treasury officials said in internal emails that iCare had a ‘direct line’ to Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, and they could not rein in the scandal- plagued agency.

 

  • iCare last year was caught secretly paying a labour hire company $700,000 to hire a former US Republican Operative to work in Dominic Perotett’s ministerial office as Treasurer.

 

  • iCare was found to have awarded a $140 million IT contract in a seven-day tender, despite bidders warned the rushed process would lead to ruin. The project’s cost has since risen to $360 million and remains incomplete.

 

  • iCare was busted for handing $18 million without tender to the IVE Group, the Liberal Party's printer and a major donor, led by a former President of the NSW Liberals.

 

  • iCare broke its own procurement rules to award at least $6 million of contracts to Korn Ferry, a recruitment firm closely linked to former NSW Liberal Party Minister and Party Treasurer.

 

  • A leaked report from last year shows that Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s scandal-plagued agency iCare overpaid dodgy doctors hundreds of millions of dollars in duplicate and fraudulent payments.

 

  • iCare handed $4 million in salary and bonuses to its eight top executives in FY 2019, despite the agency losing $873 million that year. 200 of its 1200 staff were also paid bonuses.

 

  • iCare’s former CEO had to resign due to conflict-of-interest after it emerged that iCare handed his wife a $770,000 contract without tender.

 

  • The same CEO and another top executive took an undisclosed sponsored trip to Las Vegas paid for by a multi-million contractor to the agency.

 

  • iCare’s top executives took a total of 36 foreign trips in four years - ten times more than SIRA, their regulator.

 

  • iCare faced an ICAC referral for handing an $11 million marketing contract to a company secretly owned by a top executive at the agency.

 

  • Treasury in September 2019 secretly cancelled an external investigation into probity and governance at iCare after the former CEO complained.

 

  • The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) made referrals about iCare to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for further investigation.

 

  • The Auditor-General slammed iCare in a report last December for illegally using employer’s money to bankroll its lavish spending.

 

  • Former Supreme Court Justice Robert McDougal slammed iCare for ‘failure of governance, sloppy execution and difficulties in getting injured workers access to their entitled benefits’ in an April 2021 review.

 

  • An Upper House Inquiry slammed iCare’s Board for ‘comprehensively failing to properly govern the insurer’ in an unanimous report agreed to by all parties.

 

A damning independent review from 2019 found that in 46 percent of claims handled, iCare failed to follow the relevant law.

 

iCare provides workers compensation insurance to more than 326,000 businesses. It insures 3.6 million employees. The agency’s investment portfolio is worth $38 billion. The Premier created iCare in 2015. Until last year, it had only ever answered to him.

 

And just like Dominic Perrottet’s failed investment debacle, iCare is also costing NSW families when they can least afford it. And, along with these two ongoing fiascoes, NSW families can thank the State Liberal Government for their part in NSW energy prices skyrocketing.

 

Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean said "Energy prices are up because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and unplanned outages at coal-fired power stations." Despite energy prices being blamed on the Ukraine war, coal for NSW power generators is mined within the State and supplied directly to the power station. The Russian war has nothing to do with its supply – coal prices are hedged in advance, sometimes up to three years.

 

But it’s not only the supply of coal that is being touted as a problem, many of the power generators use gas and there just isn’t sufficient supply. Why? Because the Liberal State Government over the past decade have allowed mining companies to plunder the environment for coal seam gas – not for local supply but for high premium returns overseas. It seems that greater profit is more important than guaranteeing the States domestic gas supplies, for which NSW consumers are now expected to bear the burden of parity pricing because of corporate greed.

 

To add further to the woes of struggling people, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER), the regulator of the wholesale electricity and gas markets in Australia, has also decided to pass on hefty increases to a benchmark power price, with the tariffs, known as default market offers, rising between 8.5 per cent and 18.3 per cent in New South Wales.

 

Although the AER is part of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and enforces the rules established by the Australian Energy Market Commission, it is still a government agency – which begs the question “how independent are they?” and “are they working in the best interests of consumers?”

 

It behooves the Perrottet Government to quarantine some of the gas being mined for domestic and manufacturing use to ensure an affordable energy supply, especially a baseload energy supply to give certainty to industry while we move into renewables. As a result of repeated privatizations from the NSW Government some of that baseload power in NSW has been completely closed down, which means there's more of a reliance on gas going forward.

 

There is little doubt that Dominic Perrottet and his government have a lot to answer for and must accept the blame for soaring energy prices. Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean said the Transmission Acceleration Facility (Facility) will fast-track the Renewable Energy Zones needed to replace existing power stations as they close by funding the development stages of transmission and other infrastructure.

 

“Renewable Energy Zones are modern day power stations, providing cheap and clean power for the homes and business of NSW,” Mr Kean said.

 

“The Facility is a critical step in unlocking the new generation needed to improve competition, lower power prices and secure a brighter future for households and business,” Mr Kean said.

 

The first investment under the Facility will be the Waratah Super Battery, the largest standby network battery in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

Mr. Kean said "Households will enjoy cheaper and more reliable energy thanks to $1.2 billion in the 2022-23 NSW Budget to fast-track critical energy infrastructure over the next 10 years."

 

Fast-tracking the construction of renewable energy is the best way to take advantage of cleaner, cheaper power sources.

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