There were questions over the legality of a tape recording, allegations of racial slurs and a witness who walked off the stand in a tumultuous day of an ICAC inquiry into the Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council.
The hearing finished with a tense exchange between ICAC commissioner Peter Hall QC and a barrister who remarked that each day was like “theatre sports”.
The corruption watchdog is probing four deals to sell off Awabakal land, and the involvement of disgraced former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias, his partner Despina Bakis – a solicitor – and former Awabakal board members Richard Green and Debbie Dates.
Look back at the rest of the inquiry:
Awabakal elder Raymond Kelly senior returned to the stands on Tuesday, after telling the inquiry of his attempts to convince the board to cut ties with Mr Petroulias because of a perceived conflict of interest.
Mr Petroulias sought to tender as evidence a recording of a 30-minute conversation he had with Dr Kelly in 2016, but Commissioner Hall reserved a decision amid concerns about the legality of the tape.
Dr Kelly was grilled by the counsel representing Ms Bakis, Bridie Nolan, about a confrontation he had with her following an Awabakal members’ meeting, in which he described Ms Bakis as crying and “agitated”.
It was put to Dr Kelly that Ms Bakis was upset because she and Mr Petroulias had been subjected to “vulgar” slurs at the meeting, including the pair being called “f---ing white c’s” and Ms Bakis being referred to as a “white bitch”.
Dr Kelly denied there were those sorts of comments from the floor.
“I can categorically say that I have never heard anybody use that language towards Ms Bakis,” he said.
Ms Nolan put it to Dr Kelly that he had “very strong views” on Ms Bakis and the Dates family, that had coloured his evidence.
“I believe that I’m an ethical person, I believe I’m a person of principle and if I believe something is right I will fight,” he responded.
When pressed on the issue, Dr Kelly became distressed, saying he felt “under attack”. He was permitted to leave the hearing room to compose himself.
Later, Ms Nolan came under fire for dwelling on issues unrelated to her client.
“It’s just a fishing expedition in relation to matters that appear to me to be entirely inconsequential,” Commissioner Hall said.
“I don’t know where this is going, each day is like theatre sports,” Ms Nolan replied. “I am protecting interests that I anticipate may arise, okay?”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.