The once self-proclaimed “boss lady” of NSW Labor, Kaila Murnain, is in line for a $305,000 golden handshake, despite being accused of telling a corruption watchdog a “pack of lies”.
Senior Labor sources said it was still the plan to give the suspended general secretary a year’s pay, about $305,000, to leave, once she was released by the Independent Commission Against Corruption from giving evidence. However, the party’s administrative committee has yet to deliberate on this.
Ms Murnain was questioned on Friday about an inconsistency in her evidence last week to ICAC, which is investigating allegations that about $100,000 in illegal donations was given to her predecessor, Jamie Clements, by Chinese developer Huang Xiangmo. Mr Huang has denied being the source of the donations.
In last week’s evidence, Ms Murnain said Labor Party lawyer Ian Robertson told her on September 16, 2016 — after former MP Ernest Wong had told her about the illegal donation — that there was “no need to do anything from here”.
“Don’t record this meeting, don’t put it in your diary,” Ms Murnain said Mr Robertson had told her. “Forget the conversation happened with Ernest, and I won’t be billing you for this either.”
On Friday, Mr Robertson’s counsel, Tony McInerney SC, showed Ms Murnain a document from Mr Robertson’s firm, Holding Redlich, that stated NSW Labor was, in fact, billed $20,555 for the meeting. One line item in the bill concerned telephone conversations and a meeting with Ms Murnain about political donations on September 16, 2016.
Mr McInerney accused Ms Murnain of lying about the meeting, which he said was not about the Huang donation but about a controversy over Cabramatta MP Nick Lalich accepting what could be viewed as a donation from a developer, in the form of a trip to China.
Mr McInerney: “You came unstuck when your version of events had … Mr Robertson (saying) he wouldn’t be billing you for the meeting?”
Ms Murnain: “No, I did not.”
Mr McInerney: “He did bill you, didn’t he?”
Ms Murnain: “You would have to ask Mr Robertson.”
Mr McInerney: “Your evidence he wouldn’t be billing you is a complete fabrication.”
Ms Murnain: “No.”
Mr McInerney later said: “Ms Murnain, your evidence to this commission has been a pack of lies, hasn’t it?”
“No,” Ms Murnain replied.
Later, counsel for the Labor Party, Arthur Moses SC, challenged Ms Murnain on why she had not told party officers, as required by the party rules, when she was told of the alleged $100,000 illegal donation, which ICAC has heard came in an Aldi bag.
Ms Murnain broke down on the stand — as she has on her two previous days of evidence — when Mr Moses asked her to confirm that it was her responsibility to tell other party officers of matters of concern and to act with “integrity and honesty”. Ms Murnain wept as she admitted she had made ordinary Labor members look bad.