THE NSW Treasurer, Mike Baird, is under more pressure over government board appointments after the revelation a former business colleague and Liberal party donor, Chum Darvall, was installed as chairman of the electricity corporation, TransGrid.
Mr Darvall, who was appointed in January, is the vice-chairman and former chief executive of Deutsche Bank Australia and New Zealand, where Mr Baird worked before entering politics. Mr Darvall joined Deutsche Bank in 1994, the year before Mr Baird left the company to work overseas.
According to Election Funding Authority of NSW records, Mr Darvall donated $2500 to the NSW Liberals in 2004, before Mr Baird was elected the member for Manly at the 2007 election.
Under state legislation, Mr Baird and the Minister for Finance and Services, Greg Pearce, are responsible for recommending appointments to the TransGrid board.
It is the third such appointment over which Mr Baird has come under scrutiny in the past week.
Last Tuesday, it emerged Mr Baird had supported the appointment of one of Australia’s wealthiest businessmen, Roger Massy-Greene, as chairman of Networks NSW on a three-year contract worth $200,000 a year.
It was revealed that Mr Massy-Greene, who has also donated to the Labor Party, has given $15,000 to Mr Baird’s election campaigns.
On Saturday, the Herald revealed Mr Baird appointed the former ABC chairman Maurice Newman to the board of the Port Kembla Port Corporation, which is being privatised by the state government.
Mr Newman resigned last month over a potential conflict of interest relating to his position on the board of the Queensland Investment Corporation, which may bid for Port Kembla.
Both of the appointments circumvented new transparency rules for government board appointments.
In September last year, Mr Baird announced prospective directors of state-owned corporations would be assessed by an independent panel including the chairman of the Public Service Commission, Peter Shergold, and the director-general of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Chris Eccles.
Mr Baird declined to say yesterday if Mr Darvall’s appointment was subjected to an assessment by an independent panel.
”As with all board appointments made by our government, Mr Darvall’s appointment was merit-based and approved by cabinet,” he said.
”There are a range of processes used to identify potential board members, however, all are appointed because of their qualifications and experience and Mr Darvall is no exception.”
Mr Baird also declined to to say how much Mr Darvall was earning as TransGrid chairman. His predecessor, Bruce Foy, was paid more than $100,000 a year.
The shadow treasurer, Michael Daley, called on the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, to release a full list of board appointments, saying ”the people of NSW were promised openness and transparency”.