PM backs Sinodinos

Tony Abbott has backed Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos over claims he stood to gain up to $20 million from a deal with the family of corruption-mired former NSW MP Eddie Obeid.

In the face of calls for Senator Sinodinos to stand down from his ministerial role, the Prime Minister backed the former treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party over his role with the company Australian Water Holdings.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has been told that before entering Parliament, Senator Sinodinos was appointed to the AWH board to "open lines of communication with the Liberal Party".

In his job he was paid $200,000 a year for two hours of work a week. If AWH gained a public- private partnership contract with the NSW Government, he stood to earn up to $20 million.

It also charged administration costs to Sydney Water, including a $75,000 donation from AWH to the NSW Liberal Party.

In the Upper House, Senator Sinodinos - who made a statement to the Senate on the issue last year - would only confirm he would give evidence to the ICAC investigation.

"I will be vindicated in terms of what I have said to the Senate," he said.

In the Lower House, Mr Abbott in part defended Senator Sinodinos, saying the alleged events took place before he entered Parliament.

"The senator has been asked to assist an inquiry into a particular company; he is doing so fully and frankly," he said.

Labor Senate leader Penny Wong said Senator Sinodinos' early statement was "inadequate at best and deliberately obfuscatory at worst".

Senator Sinodinos and the Abbott Government are also facing a backlash to proposed changes to financial advice laws.

The Government will today try to use regulations, rather than legislation, to remove obligations that financial advisers act in the best interest of their clients.

The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association said the changes undermined laws that protected people from "unscrupulous financial advisers".

The West Australian

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