Help my cousin ASAP: Dominello to staffer
NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello sent a staffer an email asking him to help his cousin Beth Dominello “ASAP” after receiving a complaint from her about the e-conveyancing system PEXA.
The Australian has obtained the correspondence through Freedom of Information laws after the newspaper revealed that Ms Dominello, a lawyer, had lobbied her cousin over PEXA late last year.
The Australian revealed last month that she told PEXA in an email she was going to contact the minister about her complaint.
About the same time, Mr Dominello said he would pursue reforms to introduce competition to PEXA in NSW, outside the national e-conveyancing system.
Tom Green, the staffer told by Mr Dominello to handle the complaint, resigned from his office last month in relation to a leak to a journalist of more than 100 motorists’ private details.
On October 9, Mr Dominello emailed Mr Green with Ms Dominello’s correspondence and said: “Hi Tom. Beth is my cousin. Can you prepare a response ASAP as they have lots of strong connections in the local and legal community. Many thanks. Victor.”
Ms Dominello had written just 10 minutes before: “Hi Vic. I thought I would forward you an email I have today sent to PEXA and the law society regarding the current practices on ADIs (authorised deposit-taking institutions or banks) when using PEXA.
“The whole thing is getting out of hand and there does not appear to be any avenues for making complaints with the big 4 banks being major shareholders.
“The system needs to be regulated for everyone as it is now having significant daily impacts on conveyancers and lawyers.”
In Ms Dominello’s forwarded email to the Law Society, she said: “We are constantly arguing with ADIs regarding upload of payout figures. I have been advised by CBA they will only look at a file and upload a payout in the hour leading up to settlement … this is unacceptable. The ADIs have written the rules when it comes to PEXA and they are not being monitored or held accountable.
“As we are being forced to use PEXA, it appears that the focus at present is on increasing the number of people using PEXA instead of the practical impacts of PEXA and how this can be improved to reflect a fair system.”
Mr Green wrote to Ms Dominello on October 10 and sympathised with her concerns.
On October 11, the contracts and regulation director at the Office of the Registrar General, Danusia Cameron, emailed Ms Dominello inviting her to an industry forum on the issue and copied in Mr Green.
In parliament last month, Mr Dominello declined to say whether he had declared a conflict of interest in relation to the PEXA issue given his cousin’s interest. He also was forced to defend himself over revelations he had helped another cousin, Ryde councillor Roy Maggio, secure a $2.3 million grant that benefited his council ward.
Mr Dominello said yesterday: “If a stakeholder or community member writes to me, it is my job and that of my office to consider their enquiry and refer it to my department for appropriate action.
“I receive hundreds of emails. On this occasion the person who wrote to me happened to be my cousin, which I made clear when passing on her email to my adviser.”
The opposition has referred the data leak to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The Australian snapped Mr Green meeting Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s chief of staff, Sarah Cruickshank, this week. Ms Cruickshank said she was meeting Mr Green to tell him he had no future in the government.