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Senator’s ex-company won $180 million project

But the University is sure there ain’t nothing to see here, reports Max Chalmers.

The University of Sydney has denied any links between a Senate Fellow and a tender process which resulted in his former employer winning a contract to develop the University’s new business school in the Abercrombie Precinct.

In July this year the Senate’s Buildings and Estates Committee awarded the contract to the John Holland Group, a 100%-owned subsidiary of Leighton Holdings, which previously employed Senate Fellow David Mortimer. Mr Mortimer served as an independent non-executive director of Leighton Holdings from 1997 to 2007 when he took over the role of Chairman which he held until 2011.

Statements issued by the University’s Head of Media and PR Kirsten Andrews said that Mr Mortimer and the Investments and Commercialisation Committee he chairs had no formal role in the Buildings and Estates Committee’s decision to award the contract to the John Holland Group.

“The tender process was conducted in accordance with the NSW Government Procurement Policy and was overseen by a Probity Officer. All members of the tender evaluation panel were required to sign a declaration of interest statement. No member of the Panel declared an interest,” the statement read.

Mr Mortimer has served as a Fellow of the Senate since 2010. Earlier this year he was named in an investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and picked up by Fairfax which showed that Mr Mortimer owned a company in notorious tax haven the British Virgin Islands in 2007.

At the time of print, Honi Soit’s questions had not been returned by Mr Mortimer.