No one likes backing losers, says Lib donor
All four of the businesspeople known to be behind the poll that has rocked the Liberals have had interests in business dealings which have been affected by Barnett Government decisions and all have donated to the party.
The links emerged as Premier Colin Barnett demanded that anyone else involved disclose their identity so Department of Premier and Cabinet boss Peter Conran and the Public Sector Commission could investigate whether they had compromised public servants or ministers.
Prominent investment banker John Poynton, who confirmed the involvement of the other men in radio interviews yesterday, is a minority shareholder in a largely Singapore-owned energy company which stands to lose out under a shake-up of WA’s capacity market.
Tesla Holdings runs four peaking diesel power plants which the State pays to be switched on for a few hours a year under the energy market’s capacity rules.
Energy Minister Mike Nahan has announced changes to the rules that will result in Tesla’s payments being cut.
Vikas Rambal, chairman of Perdaman Chemicals, has pushed plans for a $3.5 billion urea plant in Collie that has failed to secure coal supplies.
It is understood he told senior Liberal figures that he did not believe the Government could win the next election under Mr Barnett’s leadership.
Major property developer Nigel Satterley has been a vocal critic of land tax rises and an industrial buffer zone which would reduce the value of his Mandogalup development.
He claimed in May that Mr Barnett had lost the support of backbenchers angry over land tax and that Dr Nahan was planning to move a spill motion to install Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis as leader. It was denied by both ministers.
When contacted this week, Mr Satterley said he would confine his criticism to the land tax and buffer zone issues.
Greg Poland, of Strzelecki Holdings, was a major backer of the proposed $10 billion North Port Quay development that was knocked back by the Government in 2009.
Combined, the men have donated more than $400,000 to the Liberal Party since 2008-09.
Mr Poland and Mr Rambal did not respond to requests for comment. On 6PR radio yesterday, Mr Poynton complained the Government had encouraged investment in peaking power “and then changed the rules” but described his investment in Tesla as “tiny”.
On political donations, he said “no one likes backing losers or wasting their money”.
But he denied attempting to influence the Government, saying he did not have a vote in the Liberal partyroom.
Mr Barnett queried the motives of the businesspeople.
“They need to declare their involvement, particularly if they have any dealings with Government at all,” he said.
“Can I be very strong on that, that is absolutely essential.
“I have a responsibility, through the appropriate authorities in Government, to make sure that there was nothing illegal, or there was no compromise on the actions of government departments, individual public servants and ministers.”
Shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt told Parliament the business community, through the Leaders’ Forum that provided access to Mr Barnett and ministers for $25,000, had “owned a share” in the Government for years.
“So the Government that contracted itself out years ago to the private sector is now stunned the private sector wants to knock off the leader,” he said.