Former NT Health Department CEO Len Notaras gave evidence at the inquiry. (ABC News: Felicity James)
Former NT Health Department boss Len Notaras was not “close friends” with now-convicted travel agent Xana Kamitsis, despite the pair signing emails off with kisses, a court has heard.
Professor Notaras was cross-examined in the trial of former police commissioner John McRoberts, who has pleaded not guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice between May and November 2014.
Mr McRoberts is accused of trying to deflect an investigation into rorting of the Health Department’s travel concession scheme, because Kamitsis — who he had been in a sexual relationship with — was a target.
Mr McRoberts’ lawyer Anthony Elliot questioned Mr Notaras about emails exchanged with Kamitsis in 2012, which had been signed off with kisses.
“She signs off ‘chow’ and ‘see you soon’ with a couple of kisses,” he said, reading the exchange aloud.
“‘That is fantastic, you are indeed as always wonderful, kiss kiss’.”
“Your friendship with her was close enough that you would both sign off with these affectionate terms?”
Mr Notaras refuted the suggestion he had been close friends with Kamitsis and said she was an “acquaintance” only.
“When you put in four kisses, you weren’t being friendly?” Mr Elliot asked.
“Ms Kamitsis had a very flowery approach to a lot of things,” Mr Notaras replied.
Social circle questioned
Mr Elliot also suggested Mr Notaras extended favours to Kamitsis, in the form of offers to purchase charity auction items.
“Did you offer Ms Kamitsis the first opportunity to purchase the painting by Bono?” Mr Elliot asked.
“I can’t recall,” Mr Notaras responded and added later that he “did so with everyone”, after being shown an email exchange about the offer.
Mr Notaras was also asked to explain email exchanges about social gatherings in 2012 hosted by Kamitsis and also by Coroner Greg Cavanagh.
“This lady Xana Kamitsis was part of your social circle was she not?” Mr Elliot asked.
“She was not,” Mr Notaras replied.
“You attended many functions hosted by her?”, Mr Elliot asked.
“That’s incorrect — I perhaps attended one or two,” Mr Notaras responded.
Acting Justice Dean Mildren questioned the relevance of “all these social functions” — Mr Elliot replied that he was not ready to “flag” the reason at that point in the cross-examination.
Decision ‘not driven’ by budget concerns
Earlier, Mr Notaras gave evidence about a meeting on June 30, 2014 with Mr McRoberts, then health minister Robyn Lambley and then chief minister Adam Giles, where the travel agent fraud investigation was discussed.
Mr Notaras told court a decision to set up an “inter-agency” taskforce and request travel agents pay back money owed, before overt criminal action was taken, was not financially driven.
“I have to say that’s a novel and new approach, that’s the first time it’s occurred to me,” he said in response to that suggestion by Mr Elliot.
“I can absolutely say it was not a driving feature.”