THE man behind collapsed Rutherford waste-oil refinery Truegain is back in business, teaming up with past Labor party high-fliers former NSW premier Morris Iemma and Queensland minister Craig Wallace.
Robert Pullinger was the sole director of Truegain and related company Australian Waste Oil Refineries (AWOR) when they were placed in the hands of insolvency experts in September 2016, and is now a director of Clean Tech Partnerships.
Sydney firm Jamieson Louttit and Associates latest liquidator's reports, dated September and July last year, revealed Truegain and AWOR owed more than $5.79 million and had $100,410 in the bank.
This included $1.385 million that workers were left out of pocket, some of which is now owed to the federal government after it was forced to pick up a portion of the tab under its Fair Entitlement Guarantee Scheme (FEG), designed to assist workers who lose their jobs due to employer liquidation.
Clean Tech Partnerships was established by Mr Pullinger as sole director in January 2017, four months after Truegain and AWOR were placed in liquidation.
Former Queensland politician Mr Wallace and businessman Peter Wright, of Dover Heights in Sydney, joined as directors in November 2017.
Mr Iemma, who holds a minority shareholding, said Clean Tech Partnerships’ interests were in renewables and mobile water treatment.
He said the company was working on a renewable project in Victoria, was not linked to Truegain and was “not doing anything” at the former Truegain site in Rutherford. “The Truegain site has EPA (Environment Protection Authority) issues which is a matter for them to address,” he said.
A Newcastle Herald investigation recently detailed the shocking environmental record of Truegain/AWOR, with numerous infringements and clean-up notices issued by the EPA.
Late last year a mobile waste treatment plant was set up at the former Truegain Kyle St site in an effort to deal with hundreds of thousands of litres of toxic firefighting foam contaminated water stored at the plant.
Truegain was forced into liquidation in September 2016, seven months after it was caught discharging per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals – at the heart of the Williamtown ‘red zone’ scandal - up to nearly 400 times the accepted health risk limit, into the sewer.
The Herald also recently reported accounts of former staff from the failed plant, who say millions of litres of contaminated liquid was pumped into a creek - which leads to the Hunter River - at the back of the premises.
Clean Tech Partnerships was initially known as Australian Waste Water Services, but changed its name after six months.
Mr Iemma, who was NSW premier from 2005 to 2008, bought a minority share in Clean Tech Partnerships in November 2017. He told the Herald he had no role in the company and described his shareholding as “very small”.
Mr Wallace was the member for Thuringowa from 2004 to 2012 and served as minister for natural resources and water, main roads, fisheries and minister assisting the premier in North Queensland. He left politics in 2012 after failing to retain his seat when Labor lost the election.
Mr Wallace did not respond to a request for comment and Mr Pullinger did not respond to repeated calls.
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