NSW corruption probe to grill ex-Premiers

By Paul Hemsley with Julian Bajkowski

Former New South Wales Premiers Morris Iemma and Nathan Rees will front the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) today as witnesses as part of an investigation into former Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Mineral Resources Ian McDonald’s decisions surrounding approval for a coal mine  – and whether or not state Labor powerbroker Edward Obeid benefited from inside information.

While neither former of state leaders have been accused by the Commission, their appearance is certain to add to Labor NSW’s woes following the suspension of Mr Obeid from the Labor Party, a move that followed the suspension of former NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal.

Former NSW MP Frank Sartor will also take the stand to give evidence as a witness.

The corruption hearings follow a series of revelations by Fairfax media and the Sydney Morning Herald that questioned the activities of key NSW Labor figures when they were in government.

A specific area of interest for the ICAC probe is Ian McDonald’s decision in September 2008 to open a mining area in the Bylong Valley.

The enquiry will delve into whether Mr McDonald provided confidential information on the expressions of interest of exploration licences to former Member of Parliament Edward Obeid, his family and associates.

ICAC’s investigation will also dig into the Department of Primary Industries’ decision in November 2008 to re-open the expressions of interest of awarding exploration licence areas and extending further invitations to additional mining companies.

The hearing has heard that Mr Obeid stood to make as much as $100 million from the combination of land dealings and inside information.

Mr Obeid has repeatedly rejected the allegations of wrongdoing.



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