Former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald is facing jail time after being found guilty of misconduct in public office for issuing a mining licence to a company run by former union boss John Maitland.
The crown argued that as minister for primary industries and mineral resources at the time, MacDonald put his friend Maitland ahead of the state when he awarded a mining licence to Doyles Creek Mining without a competitive tender.
Maitland, former head of the Construction, Mining, Forestry and Energy Union (CMFEU), has been found guilty as an accessory.
The NSW Supreme Court heard during the trial that the decision by Macdonald to give the licence to Maitland lost the state tens of millions of dollars at a time of “budget constraints”.
Macdonald argued he awarded the Hunter Valley licence on merit and that he and Maitland were not “mates”, as the crown alleged — just political associates.
Both Macdonald and Maitland have been released on bail and the sentencing hearing will be held in six weeks’ time.
The crown indicated they would be seeking a custodial sentence for Macdonald.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that after years of speculation about Macdonald’s activities, she was glad he had been found guilty.
“Throw the book at him,” she said.
“I think the public wants to know that if people are found corrupt they’re actually dealt with appropriately through the courts and anyone found to do the wrong thing should receive the according punishment.”
Former Labor Premier Nathan Rees, who sacked McDonald from his cabinet in 2009, also weighed in on the latest court outcome.
“Eddie Obeid [and] Ian Macdonald [are] both convicted criminals, both bits of criminal garbage that have been hanging off the boot of the NSW Parliament and the bulk of people will be saying ‘good riddance’,” he said.
Mr Rees also tackled the issue of parliamentary pensions, arguing the Berejiklian Government should immediately revoke payments being made to the pair.
“Ian Macdonald at this stage is still getting a pension,” he said.
“Eddie Obeid has been paid probably $50,000 by the taxpayers of NSW since he was convicted in December,” he said.
“The question now for Gladys Berejiklian is why is that so?”
Macdonald known as Eddie Obeid’s ‘left testicle’
NSW Labor leader Luke Foley said he was proud that over a decade ago he tried to “purge” Macdonald from public life.
“I’ve given evidence every step of the way against this fellow … lock him up and throw away the key,” he said.
Mr Foley said Macdonald was known as Eddie Obeid’s “left testicle” and the pair would now both be locked up together.
Obeid, another former NSW Labor minister, was also convicted of misconduct in public office.
Mr Foley said without the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Obeid and Macdonald would still be at large, and the Government should reverse the weakening of ICAC.
Last year, then-premier Mike Baird announced a restructure of ICAC that was seen an “unprecedented attack” on the agency’s independence.
“I think the most important lesson here is we need a strong corruption fighter,” Mr Foley said.
He also said he would fight against Obeid and Macdonald receiving parliamentary pensions.