Sidoti ICAC evidence 'ridiculous': lawyer

NSW MP John Sidoti is facing a corruption inquiry into his family property developments in Sydney.
NSW MP John Sidoti is facing a corruption inquiry into his family property developments in Sydney.

Outcast Liberal MP John Sidoti has told a NSW anti-corruption inquiry he never pressured or angrily threatened councillors who voted against his family's financial interests.

Mr Sidoti instead spent his fourth day in the witness box painting himself as an animated but gentle local member who only ever acted in the best interests of his community.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is investigating whether the Drummoyne MP failed to disclose some of his financial interests and misused his position as a parliamentarian.

Mr Sidoti is accused of pushing Canada Bay councillors in Sydney's inner-west to vote for town planning changes that would allow more development on Five Dock sites owned by his family and friends.

Mr Sidoti, who moved to the cross bench ahead of the inquiry, denies all wrongdoing.

His family's benefit was a "by-product", but never the motivation for his advocacy for the changes, he said.

The inquiry has heard evidence the former Berejiklian government minister regularly met with three Liberal councillors on the issue, including then-mayor Helen McCaffrey who described his behaviour as relentless.

Mr Sidoti denies he pushed local councillors to get onside with the changes, despite in 2015 telling one he "was f***ed" without his vote.

On Friday, Mr Sidoti argued he was "indifferent" to the outcome of several council meetings dealing with the issue, a notion counsel assisting the Commissioner Rob Ranken dismissed as "absolutely ridiculous".

The inquiry has heard evidence Mr Sidoti angrily confronted one of the councillors in public when it appeared the trio would not vote in his favour.

Mirjana Cestar texted fellow councillor Michael Megna after the encounter on December 3, 2016: "Bumped into John Sidoti on Bay Run just now. He is exploding, making threats... Can I call you later after 9:00?"

Mr Sidoti dismissed her version of events as "totally false". If anyone exploded, it was Ms Cestar, he said.

"She was quite loud and defensive and didn't want to be seen having an argument in public."

"Even when I just started leaving, I could still hear her mumbling."

But Mr Ranken argued the response from the councillor Ms Cestar texted indicated such an outburst wasn't out of character for him.

He also pointed to an email that made "scurrilous" accusations against a council planner as evidence Mr Sidoti was not indifferent, and was indeed angry.

"I'm not an angry person," Mr Sidoti said.

"I'm animated, yes. Loud, yes."

"I'm gentle. I like to help people. (I'm) considerate, go out of my way all the time. That's just my nature."

But counsel assisting did not agree.

Summing up, Mr Ranken said Mr Sidoti had sought to persuade the councillors with relentless pressure, and failed to keep himself at arm's length from the Five Dock town centre proposal, all of which Mr Sidoti denied.

Mr Sidoti did concede he had shared claims about the conduct of some councillors and council staff that had no substance.

However, he denied threatening the political futures of the Liberal councillors, who all failed to be re-elected after lobbying from Mr Sidoti and others saw them moved down or completely off the Liberal Party ticket.

"That's on the basis that they're sheep," Mr Sidoti said.

At various stages during his evidence, Mr Sidoti was reprimanded for giving speeches instead of answering questions and being argumentative.

Commissioner Peter Hall QC reminded him several times that he was giving evidence under oath, and at one point asked if he had memory problems.

The inquiry will resume on Tuesday.

Australian Associated Press