Nathan Tinkler arrives at ICAC
RAW VISION: mining magnate Nathan Tinkler barges through the media to give evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Friday. Nine News.PT1M2S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-38enk 620 349 May 16, 2014
Financially troubled coal mogul Nathan Tinkler has made a defiant appearance at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, denying he made illegal political donations and accusing a former Labor MP of lying about him offering a bribe.
"I am starting to see why this has been going on for three weeks," Mr Tinkler said testily about a series of questions on his donations to the National Party.
Mr Tinkler, who started giving evidence at the ICAC around 12.30pm on Friday, was shown an expletive-laden email in which he complained that he had donated to the Nationals and they had done "f--- all" to approve his plans for a billion-dollar coal terminal in Newcastle.
Nathan Tinkler arrives to give evidence at ICAC on Friday. Photo: Nick Moir
"We had a bunch of deadbeats before and now we have a bunch of pricks scared to make a decision," Mr Tinkler wrote in an email on April 20, 2011, in a reference to the former state Labor government and the newly-installed Coalition.
Mr Tinkler said he had donated about $45,000 to the Nationals but denied he thought it was "the price" of getting approval for the coal terminal.
"Your donation to the Nationals was a way of buying their support for your project," counsel assisting the commission, Geoffrey Watson, SC, suggested.
"I think it would cost a bit more than $50,000 to build a coal loader and ensure approval," Mr Tinkler replied.
Later, he agreed that he thought it was "more likely" he would get a meeting about the coal loader if he donated to the party. He said it was a "waste of money" because "I didn't get that hearing".
"You saw the price to pay to get a hearing was a donation to a political party?" Mr Watson asked.
"I guess that was part of my thinking, yes," Mr Tinkler replied.
Asked if he often donated money to a "bunch of pricks", Mr Tinkler said: "I've given more to worse people, yeah."
The inquiry has previously heard that the Nationals' Duncan Gay was set to the be the ports minister and that Mr Tinkler's development company Buildev was lobbying for approval for the coal loader in the Newcastle suburb of Mayfield.
The ICAC is investigating allegations that Buildev paid another $66,000 to a Liberal Party slush fund, Eightbyfive, before the last state election in exchange for favourable treatment from former state energy minister Chris Hartcher.
Eightbyfive was allegedly used as a "sham" company to bill companies for fake expenses to disguise the fact that they were making payments in breach of the 2009 ban on developers making political donations.
Mr Tinkler, who co-owns the property development group Buildev, denied he was a banned donor.
When the commission started investigating Eightbyfive, Mr Tinkler emailed a colleague on April 19, 2013: "Who is ICAC?"
The reply prompted him to respond: "Oh mate ur f--king kidding me..."
Former Newcastle Labor MP Jodi McKay has given explosive evidence to the ICAC that Mr Tinkler offered her a bribe before the 2011 election in exchange for her support for the coal loader.
In at times teary evidence, Ms McKay said it was a "relief" to discover that Mr Tinkler's property development group Buildev was behind an attempt to smear her before the election, working with former Labor ports minister Joe Tripodi.
Mr Tinkler, who has accused Ms McKay of crying crocodile tears, agreed he was accusing her of lying.
"You're saying that her tears were crocodile tears?" Mr Watson said.
"Absolutely," Mr Tinkler said.
He agreed he meant they were "false" tears or "untrue".
Former police minister Mike Gallacher, who was previously the minister for the Hunter, resigned from cabinet earlier this month after it was alleged at the inquiry that he "hatched a corrupt scheme" with Buildev executive Darren Williams to channel illegal donations into Eightbyfive.
The money was paid by Mr Tinkler's horse stud, Patinack Farm, in what the inquiry has heard was a sham to hide the fact that Buildev was making payments in breach of the 2009 ban on developers donating to political parties.
Newcastle Liberal MP Tim Owen, who narrowly beat Ms McKay, announced on Monday that he would not recontest the 2015 election because it was "highly likely" that Buildev had contributed to his election campaign without his knowledge.