The man whose report ended the NSW Game Council is now tied up in a corruption investigation along with former Labor MP Eddie Obeid.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is looking into the Obeid family’s interests in waterfront cafes in Sydney’s Circular Quay and have named Steve Dunn – the author of the review into the Game Council – as a witness.
Reports in various media outlets say the Mr Dunn was a former director of water licensing and there are now claims he acted corruptly for his alleged role in assisting the Obeid family secure commercial leases at Circular Quay and water allocations at the Obeids’ Cherrydale Park property near Mudgee.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, counsel assisting the inquiry, Ian Temby, QC, said the inquiry would examine whether Mr Dunn and another former senior public servant, Mark Duffy, engaged in ”official misconduct” by using their positions to benefit the Obeids.
Mr Dunn and Mr Duffy featured regularly in Mr Obeid’s diaries, tendered to a previous ICAC inquiry, as having frequent meetings with the former Labor powerbroker between 2007 and 2009.
The revelation comes as no surprise to Shooters and Fishers Party MPs Robert Brown and Robert Borsak who challenged the Dunn report in parliament during the adoption of the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill that it prompted.
They maintain that the Dunn report was a device used by the O’Farrell government to abolish the Game Council even before its findings were known.
Mr Brown said, “The Dunn report is in no way the honest independent review that we rightly expected, but rather a contrivance to deliver a premeditated outcome.
“It is built on contradictions, omissions and in some instances observations that are contrary to the evidence provided to Dunn. Even when Dunn’s report identifies work the council has done well, he finds a way to present those achievements as negatives.”
Mr Borsak went a step further during the speech, with the interjection that he believed Mr Dunn was corrupt.
The Dunn report was picked up by widespread media who labelled it a damning indictment on the Game Council, citing the finding that there was inherent conflict of interest in the way the council both governed and advocated hunting in state forests.
Mr Brown said in his speech to parliament, “that is the foundation assumption put forward in the Dunn report on which he builds all else. But it is just an assertion. No evidence is presented to support it. How does he determine that representing the interests of law-abiding hunters and regulating their activities is an inherent conflict of interest?
“In fact, there was no conflict of interest. The division, which are the employees, did one job; the Game Council, being the elected representatives, did the other. This is just another of Dunn’s unsupported assumptions, based on a lack of understanding of the basic issues.
“The guy did not have the experience or, it appears, the wit to be able to determine the difference. It is important to clarify the separation of the advocacy role, which rests with the council, and the compliance role, which is delivered by inspectors employed by the Game Council Division.
“Employees of the Game Council Division are not employees of the Game Council. Surely, if there were a problem relating to conflict of interest, there would be tangible evidence to support this after 10 years of operation.
“No such evidence was presented; nor does Mr Dunn consider other statutory examples – both compliance and advocacy roles operate together successfully.”
It was also revealed that Mr Dunn was not the consultant preferred by the Shooters and Fishers Party and that the O’Farrell government vetoed their choice in favour of the man now suspected of corruption.