Baird government hands Mike Gallacher a $20k promotion

Mike Gallacher has been promoted to head a parliamentary committee.
Mike Gallacher has been promoted to head a parliamentary committee.
Premier Mike Baird declared Mr Gallacher was not welcome to rejoin the Liberals.  Photo: Daniel Munoz

Premier Mike Baird declared Mr Gallacher was not welcome to rejoin the Liberals. Photo: Daniel Munoz

He remains officially barred from the parliamentary Liberal Party after the corruption watchdog found he tried to evade political donations laws, but former police minister Mike Gallacher has been cut a break by the Baird government.

On Friday, with the support of government members, Mr Gallacher was elected chair of an upper house committee, delivering him an annual pay rise of $19,640 on top of his backbench salary of $157,000.

The promotion comes after Mr Gallacher last week delivered a speech lauding legislation introduced by Mike Baird that prompted the resignation of Independent Commission Against Corruption chief Megan Latham.

Mr Gallacher resigned as police minister and was one of 10 Liberal MPs banished to the crossbench in 2014 during Operation Spicer, ICAC's investigation of the party's fundraising rorts before the 2011 state election.

Ms Latham presided over the inquiry and its final report, tabled in August, said Mr Gallacher was one of a number of Liberal MPs who sought to evade election funding laws that banned donations from property developers.

The report also said ICAC believed Mr Gallacher was not always a truthful witness.

Mr Baird declared Mr Gallacher would not be brought back into cabinet and was not welcome to rejoin the parliamentary Liberals.

Despite this, last week the leader of the government in the upper house nominated Mr Gallacher to replace Nationals MP Ben Franklin on the committee.

This is significant because despite Mr Baird's insistence he is a crossbencher, Mr Gallacher took a position on the committee reserved for a government member.

On Friday Mr Gallacher was nominated as chair by another critic of the ICAC under Ms Latham, Christian Democratic Party MLC Fred Nile, and supported by government members.

Mr Gallacher told Fairfax Media: "I'm grateful for the opportunity to contribute. It gives me an opportunity to play a role in Parliament."

But the leader of the opposition in the upper house, Adam Searle, said: "The cat's out of the bag. Either Mike Baird is supporting Mr Gallacher to shore up his weakened position inside an increasingly right-wing Liberal Party or he has lost control of the government."

Greens anti-corruption spokesman Balmain MP Jamie Parker accused Mr Baird of "showing utter contempt for the people of NSW by reinstating a man who ICAC found was willing to 'evade the election funding laws'."

A spokesman for Mr Baird said Mr Gallacher replaced a Coalition MP on the committee "with the support of the Coalition".

"However, the Coalition regards him as a crossbench MP on the committee, and he is not expected to vote with the Coalition," he said.

This story Baird government hands Mike Gallacher a $20k promotion first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.