Click here to watch the TURC hearings into the Labor Party Loans Affair
Michael Smith editorial after morning session of TURC hearings into the NSW Labor Loans Affair

Paul Anthony Sinclair, Assistant Secretary of the ETU has been called and sworn

Mr Sinclair has been sworn, he has made and adopted a witness statement which has been tendered and received into evidence along with its Exhibits.

Various objections to elements of Mr Sinclair's witness statement are being heard.   Quite a few in fact.  Quite a bit of legal argument about various written statements we can't yet see.

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At 10.53 legal arguments/corrections and amendments to the witness statement continues.

The Commissioner has accepted a bundle of loan-related documents into evidence.

Mr Stoljar is examining Mr Sinclair about some hand written documents relating to the meeting of the Executive of the ETU in December 2010.

Mr Stoljar is referring to a bundle of documents the Commission was provided with "this morning" - apparently the ETU has just "tracked them down".

Mr Sinclair is describing the way ETU Executive management meetings were conducted, including the process for approval of financial expenses.

Mr Sinclair is confirming the authenticity of various hand written notes that came to form the Minutes of a meeting of the ETU Executive, typed up by the Personal Assistant to the management of the ETU.

Mr Sinclair has "no recollection" of a loan being discussed at the December meeting of the ETU Executive, notwithstanding that there were apparently hand written notes in his writing about all the financial transactions relevant to and discussed at the meeting.   He appears on all accounts to be giving truthful evidence in answer to Mr Stoljar's questioning - that is that there was no discussion about a loan to the Labor Party at the relevant meetings.

Mr Sinclair was asked about a witness statement made by Commissioner (courtesy Bill Shorten) Bernie Riordan in which Riordan states that Mr Sinclair has a grudge against him (Riordan).   Mr Sinclair states that he is not at the Commission to pursue any grudge and that his evidence is truthful and honest.   He states that he had a good relationship with Riordan until 2012 when "something happened".   Things that happened in 2012 include Bill Shorten making Riordan a Commissioner of Fair Work Australia with a huge salary and pension scheme.   Lucky Bernie.

Mr Sinclair states that there was absolutely no discussion of the loan to the Labor Party - he remembers the day because there was Christmas harbour cruise at about lunchtime that day.   There was no discussion or approval of the loan at the Executive or Council meetings, Mr Sinclair was not a member of the Executive, rather his role at the meetings was to act as minute taker.   He is emphatic that there was no discussion about a loan to the Labor Party and no formal approval of any loan.

Mr Sinclair is describing a safe in the accountant's office at the ETU, it was opened with a key.

On 23 July 2012 Mr Dastyari and Mr Jamie Clements attended an Executive meeting of the ETU.



At 11.49 Mr Stoljar concluded his examination.

Mr Sinclair is now being cross examined by Counsel for the ETU and its officers.

He was asked which witness statements made by others he has read.   He was non-committal about the details of which statements he has read, having "seen some". 

Mr Sinclair agreed that he kept hand written notes of the minutes "made in pencil" and that he sometimes "rubbed bits out and changed them".  He agreed with the proposition but added that he only made changes "at the meeting".

Mr Sinclair agreed that he put parts of the minutes of meetings together before a meeting - i.e. the headings and agenda items, then filled in the details of discussion held during the meetings as they took place.

Very detailed examination by Counsel for the ETU on the way Mr Sinclair takes minutes.   Very excruciatingly detailed.

The transcript should be fascinating.

Notwithstanding the past 45 minutes of cross-examination, Mr Sinclair is firm and emphatic in stating that he did not omit from the minutes any discussion of the ALP Loan.   He simply states that the loan was not discussed at the meeting.

Mr Sinclair has not deviated an iota from his witness statement or evidence to the Commission, despite the best endeavours of Counsel for Steve Butler and the ETU - at no point was the loan to the Labor Party discussed or approved at the ETU's Executive or Council meetings prior to the loan being made.   It was not authorised.

Counsel for the ETU, Steve Butler and the ETU's officers put to Mr Sinclair that more than a dozen current ETU officials do recall the meeting and do recall the ETU approving the loan to the ALP.   Well stuff me, what a surprise.   Mr Stoljar objected to the generalised summary of the evidence of so many witnesses, prior to any evidence being heard from those witnesses.  Counsel for the ETU said the foundation of his question was the proposition that Mr Sinclair had already read those statements - the Commissioner intervened on Mr Sinclair's part that he hadn't in fact read all those statements.   Counsel of the ETU is very persistent.

Mr Sinclair is being subjected to a barrage of differently constructed questions which appear to arise from the same foundational idea - that the other ETU officials collectively state that they did approve the loan to the ALP, that it was properly approved, that it was somehow not minuted and no one noticed. 

Mr Sinclair is unshakable. Just after 1PM the Commission adjourned for lunch.

At 2PM the Commission reconvened - Mr Sinclair cross examination continues.

Mr Sinclair is being quizzed about his ambitions to be ETU Secretary and whether or not that unsatisfied ambition led to bitterness against Mr Riordan.   He disagrees with the proposition that it has.