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Ayres never declared Panthers membership before $12m grant, committee told

Penrith MP Stuart Ayres failed to disclose his Penrith Panthers membership before and after he promised $12 million for a sports centre at the club, a parliamentary committee heard on Tuesday.

And Mr Ayres maintained the project “delivers” his campaign promise of “indoor sporting facilities like we’ve never seen before”, despite them never eventuating.

Penrith MP Stuart Ayres appeared before the NSW Parliament estimates committee on Tuesday.

Penrith MP Stuart Ayres appeared before the NSW Parliament estimates committee on Tuesday. Credit:James Brickwood

Mr Ayres told NSW Budget estimates on Tuesday that he was advised because the $12 million was a 2015 election commitment, his Panthers membership “could not be a conflict of interest because there was no choice between Penrith Panthers and some other entity”.

Despite that assurance, Mr Ayres, as Minister for Sport, “did not feel comfortable” signing a funding agreement with the Panthers and delegated the deal to the NSW Office of Sport CEO Matt Miller weeks before the 2019 election.

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