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Dominic Perrottet lashes out at Hills Shire Council inquiry focus on his brothers

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet accused Labor of being behind a "smear job". (ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has demanded political opponents "leave my family out of it", claiming the focus on his brothers in a branch-stacking inquiry is a "smear" campaign ahead of the election.

Mr Perrottet got fiery under questioning about the absence of his brothers Jean-Claude and Charles Perrottet, from an upper house inquiry into alleged impropriety at the Hills Shire Council.

The inquiry has engaged professionals to track down the premier's brothers, as well as two other people summoned to give evidence.

On Thursday, the premier criticised the inquiry as a "political smear job" and became incensed when his brothers' involvement was raised.

"Leave my family out of it, leave my family out of it, seriously," he said. 

"No seriously, leave me family out of it. I'm here elected to represent the people of NSW, the Labor Party are playing smear games with my family. 

"Ray Williams never raised issues with my siblings in the parliament, he did not, he did not, so leave my family out of it." 

The inquiry was launched after the Liberal Castle Hill MP, Ray Williams, made claims of deals between party operatives and developers in the Hills area, in Sydney's north west.

Mr Williams alleged members of the NSW Liberal Party had been paid to install new councillors on the council to benefit development company Toplace. 

The former minister made the allegations under parliamentary privilege in June and the inquiry was called six months later.

Mr Perrottet accused the inquiry of being politically motivated as it is commenced hearings this week, just over a month before the March 25 election. 

"This the same old Labor Party, this is the same old Labor Party, focused on personal family attacks. 

But Opposition leader Chris Minns said the inquiry was only called because Mr Williams said the party could not be trusted to conduct an internal investigation.

"It's reasonable to say that inquiry should follow where the evidence leads it and it's important to note …that the reason for the inquiry is as a direct result of revelations made by a member of Mr Perrottet's own government," Mr Minns said.

"Upper house inquiries are important, they are often inconvenient for political leaders but it's necessary that they take place."

In June, Mr Williams told the lower house he heard allegations members of the Liberal Party executive were given "significant funds" from Toplace owner, Jean Nassif, in 2021 so new councillors were put on the council. 

Ahead of the 2021 local government election, six Hills Shire Liberal councillors and the Liberal mayor Michelle Byrne were booted from the party ticket by the executive and usual pre-selection processes were skipped. 

During her evidence to the inquiry on Thursday, Ms Byrne said she believed she was given the flick as she was seen as being too anti-development. 

"[It was] get the pain in the butt mayor out of the way, who's perceived as anti-development, and have a better chance of getting things through without me in the way," she claimed.

The inquiry followed allegations made by local MP Ray Williams.  (Facebook: Ray Williams)

The Hills local government area has been identified as a priority growth area, and in recent years Toplace has bought several properties and made various development applications to the council. 

Toplace's proposed 20-storey development near Cherrybrook station was opposed by the council in 2018 while Ms Byrne was mayor.

The former mayor said she had no evidence of money being exchanged between developers and the Liberal Party, but it was the only explanation that made sense for her dumping.

"You get to see certain behaviours and certain comments and you begin to think what on earth is really going on here?" Ms Byrne said.

"My gut feeling is that that's exactly what happened to me. I just can't prove it." 

She blamed developer pressure for what happened to her and the other six councillors, saying it was an "injustice" that showed a "lack of democracy". 

She felt something was "funny going on" because the party told her there was no time for a pre-selection in the Hills Shire, the inquiry heard.

Ms Byrne said she was skeptical because neighbouring council Hornsby, which had the same nomination closing date, did have one.

"My fate should have been determined by the members of the Liberal Party out in the Hills as opposed to other people." 

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