ICAC: Ex-mayor John Tate insists campaign above board

Jodi McKay and John Tate in September 2010.

Jodi McKay and John Tate in September 2010.

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FORMER Newcastle lord mayor John Tate said last night he had nothing to hide about his 2011 state election campaign and could not recall taking money from Nathan Tinkler or his associates.

Mr Tate, who ran as an independent for the seat of Newcastle, said he would make further comments on the matter today, after reading yesterday’s transcripts from the ICAC inquiry.

‘‘I am confident everything I have done is fair and above the law,’’ he said.

In 2011, Mr Tate rejected claims from election rival Jodi McKay that he was taking advice from a former Labor ministerial staffer Ann Wills who was renting an office that he owned.

Ms Wills, the Tinkler Group and former Labor minister Joe Tripodi were named at ICAC yesterday as being involved in a smear campaign against Ms McKay to ruin her chances of re-election.

The Newcastle Herald was unable to contact Ms Wills last night.

She worked for former treasurer Michael Costa and had been described by Ms McKay as a ‘‘lobbyist’’ for Mr Tinkler’s Newcastle developer Buildev.

Cr Tate has previously admitted being friends with Ms Wills, but said she did not advise on his campaign.

In March 2011, the Herald reported that Cr Tate said he ran into Ms Wills during a visit to state Parliament in 2010 and spoke to Mr Tripodi there but at the time he said ‘‘you see lots of people at Parliament’’.

Cr Tate said that while at Parliament a ‘‘senior minister’’ phoned him and asked him to speak with NSW ALP general secretary Sam Dastyari.

He met with Mr Dastyari at Wahroonga and they talked about ‘‘Newcastle and the election’’.

Cr Tate said it was clear some of Ms McKay’s colleagues no longer supported her, but at the time he declined to name the minister involved. Last night he said he couldn’t recall who the minister was, but would check his diary.

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