ABC News Australia

Ian Macdonald jailed for 10 years for misconduct in public office, John Maitland also imprisoned

3 June 2017

Ian Macdonald being led away from a prison van.

 

Former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald has been sentenced to 10 years’ jail over the decision to grant a mining licence to a company run by former union boss John Maitland, who will spend at least four years behind bars.

Key points:

  • Ian Macdonald was a Cabinet minister in the NSW government in 2008
  • He granted a mining license in the Hunter Valley to a friend, former CFMEU boss John Maitland
  • Today, the pair were jailed for their deal

In March, Macdonald was found guilty of misconduct in a public office.

Maitland, once the head of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), was found guilty of being an accessory.

The decision to grant the licence was made in 2008, when Macdonald was the NSW minister for Primary Industries and Mineral Resources in the Iemma Labor government.

Macdonald was given a non-parole period of seven years, while Maitland was sentenced to six years in prison, and will not be eligible for parole until 2021.

Macdonald clasped his hands and folded his arms at times during the three-hour sentencing hearing in Sydney, and appeared composed when Justice Christine Adamson eventually announced the punishment.

In sentencing, Justice Adamson described Macdonald as “devious” and said he had betrayed the people of NSW.

“The coal resources of New South Wales, which should have been used for the benefit of the whole society, were squandered by the criminal conduct of the very person who was trusted to safeguard them,” she said.

‘He bragged to his staff’

She said Macdonald had a misplaced sense of entitlement and that both men did not have good prospects of rehabilitation and had shown no remorse for their crimes.

“Mr Macdonald did the wrong thing,” Justice Adamson said.

“He was brazen about it. He bragged to his staff about the authority the legislature had given to him.”

During the trial, Macdonald’s lawyers argued he granted the Hunter Valley mining licence to Maitland’s company, Doyles Creek Mining, because of the merits of the proposal, not because they were “mates”.

However, the Crown alleged during the trial the decision by Macdonald to give the licence to Maitland lost the state tens of millions of dollars at a time of “budget constraints”.

Justice Adamson said Maitland had sought to benefit personally from the granting of the licence.

“Mr Maitland must be punished to deter those who seek government permissions from seeking to profit from wilful misconduct of public officials,” she said.

John Maitland

‘Behind bars as he should be’

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the cases of disgraced ministers Mr Macdonald and Eddie Obeid demonstrate some of the darkest years of the Labor government.

“We don’t ever want to see that return to New South Wales,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian said she hopes people feel justice has been served.

“I think the public will feel very well served that he [Mr Macdonald] is behind bars as he should be.

“Any elected representative who does that wrongly by the people of the state deserves the book thrown at them.”

State Opposition Leader Luke Foley also welcomed the decision wholeheartedly.

“I sought to end Ian Macdonald’s political career in 2006,” Mr Foley said.

“[Today] serves as a reminder of the high standards of integrity that are expected of Members of Parliament. And the Independent Commission Against Corruption has been vindicated.

“If not for the work of the ICAC, Macdonald would remain at large today.”

Former Labor premier Kristina Keneally said the sentence shows no one is above the law.

“The offences for which Mr MacDonald was convicted occurred before I was premier. I referred Mr MacDonald to the ICAC in 2010 on another matter.

“This sentence is a necessary and good result for the people of NSW.”

The charges in court followed an Independent Commission Against Corruption finding against Macdonald in 2013.

Macdonald will also be stripped of his parliamentary pension, after the Berejiklian Government yesterday passed legislation to stop payments to former politicians who are convicted of serious offences after they leave office.

Macdonald will be back in court later this year — earlier this week he was committed to stand trial on conspiracy charges with fellow former Labor frontbench colleague Eddie Obeid.

Those charges relate to a coal exploration licence involving a property owned by the Obeid family in the Bylong Valley near Mudgee.