NSW to cap cash donations after ICAC

NSW is banning cash donations of more than $100 to political parties.
NSW is banning cash donations of more than $100 to political parties.

NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay will support the state government's ban on cash political donations over $100 and is calling on the premier to back her bill to outlaw property developers from sitting in cabinet.

It comes as Labor endures an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into donations and Liberal minister John Sidoti faces allegations of misconduct.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday the plan to cap cash donations, saying the ease of transferring money electronically meant there was no longer any good reason to allow donations to hide "behind the anonymity of cash".

"This simple reform will mean an end to the poor accounting practices, untraceable donations and the anonymous cash that has the potential to mar our political system," Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.

"I have been shocked by what has been uncovered at the Independent Commission Against Corruption over the last two weeks."

ICAC is investigating whether Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo, who is banned from Australia, was the source of $100,000 said to be donated by 12 people in $5000 chunks of cash at a 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner.

Ms Berejiklian's announcement came after she revealed on Tuesday that ICAC would conduct a preliminary investigation into allegations against Mr Sidoti, who has stood aside from cabinet.

A storm erupted around him last week over his property interests, their proximity to future metro stations and a linked political donation made by a developer to the NSW Liberal Party.

Mr Sidoti denies any wrongdoing and says he has no undeclared conflicts of interest or benefits.

Ms McKay said on Wednesday she would introduce a bill banning property developers from sitting in cabinet, saying "the premier has been very vocal on cleaning up public life but to date she has done little about it".

"If she is serious then she will support our bill which will remove at a stroke the ability for an individual to make a fortune out of their privileged position," Ms McKay said.

The Liberals' legislation to enact the new cash donation restrictions will be introduced to parliament by the end of the year.

Liberal and Labor MPs clashed over donations, the ICAC inquiry and Mr Sidoti during a rowdy question time on Wednesday.

The Greens, meanwhile, passed a motion in the upper house to refer Mr Sidoti to ICAC for investigation and report, and to have the commission consider if reforms are needed to ensure public confidence in the conflict of interest arrangements for MPs.

Greens MP Jamie Parker criticised the government for not dealing with it in the lower house on Wednesday, saying it was "astounding" they didn't consider the motion sent to them by their government colleagues in the upper house.

Mr Parker welcomed the Liberals' proposed ban on cash donations over $100 but said "tinkering at the edges of this broken system won't fix the rot in our politics or restore public confidence".

The Greens have proposed a number of anti-corruption measures including a doubling of ICAC funding, a ban on all corporate political donations and improved protections for whistleblowers.

Australian Associated Press