Orica - Premier directly involved in cover up

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New documents reveal Premier Barry O'Farrell was personally involved in covering up the Orica toxic chemical leak – and was lobbying the minor parties to block a parliamentary inquiry into the incident. In an email on 22 August, Mr O'Farrell asked his chief of staff Peter McConnell to organise a meeting between Brendan O'Reilly, who is chairing the independent inquiry, and the Shooters and Fishers Party.

Mr O'Farrell added: "We need to ensure we don't have two inquiries going at the same time. Neither Christian Democrat MLCs have responded to my email." (1.25pm, 22 August 2011)

Documents also reveal Environment Minister Robyn Parker's staffer informed the Premier's long time senior advisor about the Orica incident at 5pm on Wednesday, 10 August – discrediting the Premier's claims his office was not formally advised until Thursday.

"Secret emails reveal the Premier has been personally and directly involved in the Government's cover up of the Orica toxic chemical leak," Shadow Environment Minister Luke Foley said.

"The Premier has personally lobbied the minor parties to shut down a parliamentary inquiry into his Government's appalling mismanagement of the Orica hexavalent chromium leak.

"The Premier has also sought to compromise respected public servant Brendan O'Reilly by asking him to brief the minor parties on the incident while his investigations are still taking place.

"Barry O'Farrell has serious questions to answer about when his office knew about the Orica chemical leak and why residents were not informed.

"On one hand Barry O'Farrell says he found out about the leak on Thursday – but the Environment Minister's office documentation confirms his long time senior advisor knew at 5pm on Wednesday – it beggars belief he did not tell the Premier or his chief of staff.

"The Premier has now been directly implicated in his Government's cover up of the Orica incident. He has serious questions to answer."