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ICAC NSW Labor inquiry LIVE: Jamie Clements says Kaila Murnain ‘hates his guts’

Jamie Clements agrees with the Commissioner’s presumption that he wasn’t a “detail man” during his time as NSW Labor general secretary.

Both Commissioner Peter Hall and counsel assisting the commission Scott Robertson continue to probe the dynamics and responsibilities within Labor’s head office in 2015.

My Clements says Ms Murnain held most of the responsibility when it came to the details of fundraising, adding he had absolutely no reservations in her competency and integrity.

“No one knew that office better than Kaila, no one was able to master detail more than Kaila,” he said.

“I had the faith in her to get it done.”

Former NSW ALP general secretary Jamie Clements faces expulsion from the party at a hearing scheduled for October 15.

Former NSW ALP general secretary Jamie Clements faces expulsion from the party at a hearing scheduled for October 15.Credit:Paul Miller

The commissioner is interested in what “it” is. He asks where Ms Murnain’s responsibilities started and finished.

“When you say ‘get it done,’ I’m just examining what ‘it’ meant to her,” the commissioner asks.

“Was she just left to make it up as she went,” the commissioner asks.

Mr Clements said if there was a problem, he expected Ms Murnain to come to him with it.

That’s lunch. We’ll be back soon with the rest of the day’s proceedings

Jamie Clements says he inherited a lack of fundraising procedures when he became general secretary of NSW Labor.

Mr Clements described the fundraising procedures as “lax” when asked about the operations of the party during his time at the helm.

“I would say most of the laxness in procedures was something I inherited,” he said.

“I suppose I wasn’t aware of the inadequacies.”

Jamie Clements tells the ICAC he believes his successor Kaila Murnain “hates my guts”.

“I think she hates my guts, I don’t know if I hate her,” Mr Clements says.

“I have a bad relationship with Kaila, but I don’t hate her.”

Kaila Murnain leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption in August.

Kaila Murnain leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption in August.Credit:Dean Lewins

Counsel assisting the inquiry Scott Robertson is digging into the pair’s strained relationship, and has asked if Mr Clements is deliberately distancing himself from fundraising.

Mr Clements responds that he’s answering all questions honestly. He said while he reveiwed the party’s financial budgets, he didn’t do it in “forensic detail”.

Jamie Clements is now in the ICAC witness box. He’s being asked about the mechanics of NSW Labor’s head office, and describing what responsibility both he and his then-assistant general secretary Kaila Murnain had.

Mr Clements says while he was general secretary he was responsible for the way the party operated and Ms Murnain took care of some day-to-day fundraising operations.

Former NSW Labor general secretary Jamie Clements.

Former NSW Labor general secretary Jamie Clements.

“It wasn’t my management style to be micro managing her and continually checking up on her,” he said.

He said if there was an issue, he expected staff to come and talk to him about it, but otherwise he stayed out of some fundraising activities. He claims he delegated the responsibility of fundraising to Ms Murnain.

“You gave Kaila a task, she got it done,” he said.

Mr Clements said he had reminded staff that they needed to ensure all cash donations were accompanied by the correct forms. He says he didn’t think he would have needed to remind Ms Murnain of that fact.

He says that raising money was always broadly front of mind on Sussex Street, but he only attended a few fundraising committee meetings.

Mr Clements said he was not responsible for the ethnic groups which engaged in fundraising activities. He says that was Kenrick Cheah and Ms Murain’s responsibility.

“I couldn’t micro-manage Kaila over something like this,” he said.

Kenrick Cheah is being questioned about the day he counted the $100,000, that’s now at the centre of the inquiry, in Labor’s Sussex Street headquarters.

He said he was counting the $100,000 “discreetly” at his desk in April 2015, but he wasn’t trying to hide what he was doing.

“I never took out the entire lot at once; I think that would be pretty stupid because it might get lost,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone really cared to be honest, besides the people it impacted.”

Counsel assisting the commission Scott Robinson suggests most of the office would have been talking about the lump sum of cash around the water cooler, if they had one.

“It’s an extraordinary thing that happened and it’s a matter that colleagues might discuss among themselves,” he said.

Mr Cheah says it could have been now-suspended Kaila Murnain who told him to “be careful” when he left with the money at the end of the day. 

Former NSW Labor boss Jamie Clements was all smiles when he arrived at ICAC this morning. 

Former NSW general secretary Jamie Clements on his way into ICAC

Former NSW general secretary Jamie Clements on his way into ICACCredit:Nine

Mr Clements, who resigned as Labor general secretary in 2016, told media he hadn’t been shopping at Aldi lately. 

Former NSW general secretary Jamie Clements on his way into ICAC.

Former NSW general secretary Jamie Clements on his way into ICAC.Credit:Nine

Labor’s community relations officer Kenrick Cheah has been called back to the stand first this morning.

Counsel assisting the commission Scott Robinson says Mr Clements is expected to be called after Mr Cheah.

NSW Labor's community relations director Kenrick Cheah.

NSW Labor’s community relations director Kenrick Cheah.Credit:AAP

Mr Cheah is currently being questioned by Commissioner Peter Hall QC over an alleged “switcheroo” of donation invoices following the Chinese Friends of Labor dinner.

Mr Clements is in the building and he was asked if he shops at Aldi by Channel 9 on the way into the inquiry. He responded: “not at the moment”.

The ICAC has been investigating a 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor fundraising dinner and whether a dozen “straw donors” were used to conceal the true identity behind a $100,000 donation.

In August, the inquiry sensationally heard that Chinese billionaire and banned donor Huang Xiangmo was the source of the cash. A Labor employee told the ICAC he saw Mr Huang walk into Labor’s headquarters in 2015 with an Aldi shopping bag full of cash.

Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo.

Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo.Credit:James Brickwood

Mr Huang, who has been barred from Australia, has denied making the donation.

NSW MP Ernest Wong, current and former NSW labor leaders, the party’s high profile lawyer Ian Robertson and a host of  alleged straw donors have so far provided evidence to the inquiry. 

Several witnesses from the Chinese community have told the ICAC they signed false donation declaration forms relating to the cash, and were subsequently urged by Mr Wong not to tell the truth to authorities.

While he hasn’t yet appeared before the inquiry, the former NSW Labor general secretary found himself at the centre of the ICAC scandal from week one, when the party’s community relations officer Kenrick Cheah alleged Mr Clements received the Aldi bag of cash from Mr Huang.

The ICAC heard on Tuesday that Mr Clements had started working for Mr Huang after he resigned as general secretary in 2016, and had been held on a retainer worth as much as $200,000.

Good morning and welcome back to the Sydney Morning Herald’s live blog from the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The ICAC has been investigating an alleged scheme by NSW Labor to circumvent the state’s donation laws.

It’s been an explosive seven weeks, with allegations of $100,000 cash being dropped to the party’s Sussex Street headquarters by a Chinese billionaire and the suspension of Labor boss Kaila Murnain.

After months of anticipation, former NSW General Secretary Jamie Clements is expected to give evidence to the inquiry on Wednesday.

Former NSW ALP general secretary Jamie Clements.

Former NSW ALP general secretary Jamie Clements.Credit:AAP

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