The NSW Premier has shared further insight into his decision to dump Hunter Minister Tim Crakanthorp from the government front bench after it was revealed the Newcastle MP failed to disclose a “significant” number of properties owned by his family.
Although he said he was “not going to speculate”, Chris Minns said he had “concerns” Mr Crakanthorp may have made decisions or taken actions that led to a “private benefit” as a result of his failure to disclose his conflicts of interest.
Mr Minns said the “private benefits” may have resulted through Mr Crakanthorp’s role as the Hunter Minister. The MP also previously held the portfolio for skills, TAFE and tertiary education; however, it was not affected by his family’s property holdings.
“Minister for Hunter is obviously a role with responsibility for driving economic development; for example, co-ordinating initiatives and shining a spotlight on opportunities for potential investment and other opportunities,” Mr Minns said.
“So it is an executive responsibility. It is responsible for, if not lobbying, championing that region.”
Mr Minns highlighted the planning or approval of “developments” as a potential reason why Mr Crakanthorp should have declared his conflicts of interest.
“Like any town in NSW, there is the potential for development within those places,” he said.
“In Newcastle (an area in the Hunter), that’s (particularly) the case.
“Now, if there is or there has been a concern about him acting in his public capacity (and resulting) in a potential private interest, then that needs to be investigated.”
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Minns doubled down on the importance of disclosing potential conflicts of interest.
“Conflicts of interest in and of themselves are not reason for expulsion or breach of the ministerial code,” he said.
“It’s the declaration of those interests and ensuring that you don’t breach your conflict of interest while acting as a minister in the NSW government.”
In a statement to parliament, Mr Crakanthorp admitted he had “unfortunately omitted” the disclosure of “a further property” owned by his wife, Lara Crakanthorp.
“I also took steps to subsequently notify the Premier that I had now become aware that properties owned within Broadmeadow by my in-laws also now represented a conflict of interest,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“In recent days I again notified the Premier’s office that I had now spoken to both my in-laws and my siblings’ in‑laws to assemble a full list of each of their interests, and I have provided those to the Premier’s office.”
In the interim, Deputy Premier and Education and Early Learning Minister Prue Car will take on the portfolio for skills, TAFE, and tertiary education, with Police Minister Yasmin Catley appointed as the interim Hunter Minister.
Mr Minns said he had referred the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which will decide whether it will commence an investigation.
If an investigation does proceed, the Premier said Mr Crakanthorp “will step aside from the party room”.