Andrew Stoner transcript regarding Tinkler proposal – Estimates 2014
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Good morning, Minister. Minister, what was your role or your
department’s role, if any, in the unsolicited proposal bid from Buildev and Hunter Ports to build a new coal
terminal in Newcastle?
Mr ANDREW STONER: As I recall, early in the term of our Government there was a request to look
at the proposed investment and the economic benefits of that proposal, which I understand had also been
considered by the former Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, and the former Minister for Ports and Waterways, Joe
Tripodi. I asked my department to have a look at the proposal. I was advised that it did not meet policy and that
it should not go ahead, and the proponent was so advised.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Do you recall when you asked your department to do that?
Mr ANDREW STONER: As I said earlier, it was early in the term of our Government so it was in
2011 at some stage.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Was that a written request that came to you from Buildev and Hunter
Ports? Did it come to you directly?
Mr ANDREW STONER: I cannot recall.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Could you look at your records and table a document if it exists?
Mr ANDREW STONER: I will look at my records and advise how the request came about.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: You are confirming your department asked the Department of
Premier and Cabinet, was it, to have a look at this proposal?
Mr ANDREW STONER: I asked my Director General of NSW Trade and Investment to advise as to
whether this proposal should go further. His advice to me was that it should not and the proponent was
subsequently advised I am not sure whether by me or whether by the Minister for Planning.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: When you say whether or not it should go further, do you mean
further in terms of a project that should get up or whether or not it should go through the unsolicited proposals
Mr ANDREW STONER: I was seeking advice as to whether the proposal ought to have further
assessment through the normal development application processes through the Department of Planning. I was
not seeking advice as to whether the project in itself ought to be approved but simply as to whether it ought to
be further assessed.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Through the unsolicited proposals process?
Mr ANDREW STONER: I think there was already a development application with the Minister for
Planning. I would have to come back to you.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: An unsolicited proposals process goes through Premier and Cabinet?
Mr ANDREW STONER: Correct. I am not sure whether it had come through Premier and Cabinet. I
do not know. I think this may have been a transition issue or a legacy issue because, as I said earlier, I am aware
that the previous Labor Treasurer and ports Minister had had some involvement in this already. So it may have
gone through some sort of early unsolicited proposal assessment under the previous Government.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Former Ministers Roozendaal and Tripodi had been suggesting that
it go through the unsolicited proposals process and then on coming to Government that is something that you
undertook as well?
Mr ANDREW STONER: I was asked to have a look at the economic merits. I had been advised that it
may involve a significant investment, the creation of many jobs and possibly some productivity gains. I asked
that those aspects which are within my purview in Trade and Investment be looked at. The advice that I got back
was that the whole thing did not stack up and it ought not go any further. So at that point I was satisfied that it
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Do you recall that was in January 2012, almost a year after you had
come to Government?
Mr ANDREW STONER: I cannot be 100 per cent on the time frames.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: In that period after coming to Government in March 2011 and
considering this proposal did you ever meet with Buildev, Hunter Ports or representatives of those interests?
Mr ANDREW STONER: No.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Minister, in response to previous questions earlier in this session,
I want to confirm that you said that the initial request for the proposed Buildev and Hunter Ports coal terminal in
Newcastle that was to be considered within the unsolicited proposal process came to you.
Mr ANDREW STONER: No, I did not say that.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: A request came to you that it be considered under the unsolicited
The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Point of order: The member clearly has just admitted that the first part of
his question is incorrect. When the Minister has said no he did not say that he is now changing tack. I believe
that his question contains argument. He has just verified the fact that the first part of his question, by his own
admission, contains argument. I therefore ask that the question be ruled out of order.
The Hon. MICK VEITCH: To the point of order.
CHAIR: Order! The question is out of order. The member should rephrase his question or ask a
The Hon. STEVE WHAN: How can it be out of order if he said it before?
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Minister, I wish to confirm that a request from Buildev and Hunter
Ports for their proposed coal terminal to be considered under the unsolicited proposals process came to you or
Mr ANDREW STONER: I did not say that. What I said earlier was, to my knowledge—it is probably
an assumption on my part—if there was an unsolicited proposals process in relation to that proposal, it was
begun under the former Government. As I have read the papers I have become aware of Eric Roozendaal and
Joe Tripodi’s involvement in that matter. What I did say was that I asked my department to assess the economic
merits of the proposal and whether it was consistent with Government policy.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: But that was on the basis of a request, Minister?
Mr ANDREW STONER: The advice that I received was that, no, it did not, and hence it did not go
forward for any further assessment under our Government.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: That assessment was on the basis of a request that was made to you
and your department from the proponents of the development?
Mr ANDREW STONER: I did not say that.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: I am asking you if that is the case. How did it come to pass that you
asked for that project to be assessed as to whether it fitted within that process?
Mr ANDREW STONER: There may have been a request to me; from whom I cannot recollect.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Was it from Nathan Tinkler at one of your dinners?
The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Point of order:
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Is that what he was getting for his money?
The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: We are now straying into other matters. Not only has the Minister
answered this question a number of times, but the member is straying into questions outside the Minister’s
portfolio. I believe the question is out of order.
The Hon. STEVE WHAN: To the point of order: The Deputy Premier has clearly already indicated in
this hearing that he has dealt with this issue, so it is clearly within his portfolio responsibilities.
The Hon. MICK VEITCH: He does not need protection from Mr Blair.
CHAIR: Order! As has been pointed out, the Minister has already commented on this but I remind
Mr Jeremy Buckingham to be generally relevant in his questions.
Mr ANDREW STONER: It would not be appropriate for me to provide a running commentary on
matters that are currently being considered by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I would say to
the member that it would be remiss of me as the Minister for Trade and Investment not to satisfy myself as to
the merits of a proposal that could generate significant economic benefit and create a significant number of jobs
for New South Wales. I did satisfy myself. The answer was, no, it ought not be supported.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: I understand that, Minister. Would you be prepared to table any
written correspondence requesting that particular project be considered under the unsolicited proposals process
to the Committee?
Mr ANDREW STONER: Again, it is not appropriate for me to provide a running commentary—
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: I am not asking for commentary, I am asking for the document, the
Mr ANDREW STONER: —or to prejudice matters that are currently under investigation by a body
that has a lot more investigative powers than this one and would have each and every document in relation to
those matters. That is enough. I am not going anywhere near it.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: You are not prepared to table that document or give any sort of
Mr ANDREW STONER: I have cooperated with the authorities in relation to matters that are
currently under consideration. If you have got some allegations, take them down to ICAC.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: I might.
Mr ANDREW STONER: Go for your life.
Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Are you saying that the unsolicited proposals process is under
investigation by ICAC.
Mr ANDREW STONER: I am saying—
The Hon. NIALL BLAIR: Point of order: The Government’s unsolicited proposals policy is certainly
not something that the Minister should be talking about here. [Time expired.]