A mere $2500 gets you lunch with the NSW Liberals
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A mere $2500 gets you lunch with the NSW Liberals

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Gladys Berejiklian is facing a critical byelection in Wagga Wagga this weekend, but it’s good to see she’s still passing the tin around for the main game: the March state election.

Given only five seats could stand between the NSW Liberals and electoral oblivion - Premier Luke Foley (or Michael Daley or Jodie McKay or Chris Minns) - they needs all the money they can get.

Which brings us to “a great opportunity to discuss” the government’s policies with Berejiklian and her nine most senior ministers over a series of intimate lunches and dinners planned by the party over the next two months starting Monday (at a location to be advised).

How much for access to the likes of high-performing Transport Minister Andrew Constance you ask? It’s a mere $2500 a go, or, for the very keen, a $5000 subscription (for five events).

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The first of the 40-person lunches will be held with Finance Minister Victor Dominello and Innovation Minister Matt Kean, valuing each minister at $1250 per “premium” seat holder.

But according to CBD’s calculations, the most prized ministers, at the full $2500 per attendee, are Education Minister Rob Stokes and Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies, the only two appearing without other ministers.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is hosting a series of fundraisers in the lead-up to the next state election.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is hosting a series of fundraisers in the lead-up to the next state election.Credit:Cole Bennetts

If you really want bang for your buck, it’s best to register for the November dinner, with no less than six ministers accompanying Berejiklian.

“Take advantage of this rare opportunity to discuss key issues facing our state with the top decision makers,” the invitation reads. Just remember, no developers.

Cheques in for Labor's man in Wentworth

Not to be outdone, Labor’s candidate for Wentworth, Tim Murray, is taking advantage of Malcolm Turnbull’s departure, and the ex-PM's son Alex Turnbull's sales pitch, and rounding up donations from the top end of town, including a number of bankers.

Murray founded research analyst firm J Capital, which publishes material questioning whether companies are travelling as well as they tell their investors.

James Quille has donated to Labor's Wentworth candidate Tim Murray.

James Quille has donated to Labor's Wentworth candidate Tim Murray.Credit:James Davies

But one wonders if there are mixed emotions involved in handing cash over to a party whose leader Bill Shorten has campaigned on denying the banks tax cuts.

And it was less than two months ago that Labor’s new national president, Wayne Swan, accused those same donors of “basically gorging themselves”.

But on the list of Murray’s donors is James Quille, chief executive of Quille Capital and the one-time chairman of Macquarie Global Property Advisors and the former boss of BlackRock, one of the world’s largest investment managers.

Was Quille “basically gorging himself” when he purchased a $7.65 million weekender in 2015?

First State Super’s head of investments, Michael Winchester, is on the donors list, which appears to also include former National Australia Bank executive Nathan Walsh, now the chief executive of Athena Home Loans.

Also on the register is Qantas’ head of domestic revenue management, Guy Waddell, a member of the Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club where Murray is president.

Not on the list: Fortescue boss Andrew Forrest, who once referred Murray to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (which went nowhere).

Grey skies ahead for Goldman Sachs' Blue Sky tie-up

There is no lack of collateral damage when it comes to continuing debacle that is Brisbane funds manager Blue Sky Alternative Investments.

Blue Sky's student accommodation business with Goldman Sachs has come under pressure.

Blue Sky's student accommodation business with Goldman Sachs has come under pressure.Credit:Fairfax Media

Last week, the much-spruiked fashion start-up Shoes of Prey, a flagship Blue Sky investment, went bust leaving many (but not certain members of Blue Sky's management) out of pocket.

But even the world’s best-known investment bank, Goldman Sachs, has been caught up in the carnage, thanks to a joint venture with Blue Sky in a student housing business called Atira.

With Blue Sky shares down 87 per cent since January, Goldmans is said to be trying to undo the arrangement before things get worse for Blue Sky, whose board includes Brisbane accounting luminary Phil Hennessy and Adelaide lawyer and friend of Christopher Pyne, Jonty Kain.

Goldies managing director David Gribble, who sits on the board of Excel Operations which owns Atira, apparently has the job of exiting the $450 million stake with the help of realtors JLL.

Other sources, however, told CBD that Goldman Sachs wants to keep the business, and it's actually Blue Sky who have engaged JLL to find someone to buy its half share of Atira.

Blue Sky has already put on hold one Melbourne student accommodation development and another in Perth as the flow of international students slows.  We wish Goldman Sachs the best of luck.

Kylar is The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age's CBD columnist. He recently covered federal politics, business and NSW politics for News Corp.