Fed ministers stayed at Obeid lodge – Sydney Morning Herald


Fed ministers stayed at Obeid lodge – Sydney Morning Herald

Posted on 3:25 AM with No comments


New senate leader Stephen Conroy and cabinet minister Tony Burke admit staying at Eddie Obeid’s Perisher ski lodge as federal Labor figures become embroiled in the former party powerbroker’s corruption inquiry.

Senator Conroy issued a statement saying he’d stayed at an apartment owned by Mr Obeid in 2005 or 2006 after Mr Burke and another federal Labor minister, Bill Shorten, were named at a NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry.

Former NSW Labor factional boss Mr Obeid told a hearing on Tuesday Mr Burke, a NSW Right factional leader, and Mr Shorten, a Victorian Right faction chief, had been invited to stay rent-free at his family’s Perisher ski lodge.

The same hospitality had been extended to other Obeid political friends, including former NSW premier Morris Iemma, current NSW Labor leader John Robertson and former NSW minister Ian Macdonald, he said.

“We are generous people and we like to share our generosity with our friends,” Mr Obeid told the ICAC on Tuesday.

Mr Shorten denied ever staying at the Obeid family’s ski lodge.

He said through a spokesman on Tuesday that he had never been to Perisher and cannot ski.

Mr Burke said in a statement that he had stayed twice at a Perisher Valley apartment owned by Mr Obeid.

“I declare two separate stays at this accommodation in the period 2004 to 2006,” the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities said.

“On both occasions I stayed with my family.

“On neither occasion was any member of the Obeid family present.”

Mr Burke said the parliamentary rules relating to the declaration of MPs’ interests excluded those received in a “personal capacity”.

However, some MPs routinely declare such gifts for the sake of transparency.

Senator Conroy, who became a minister in 2007, was not named in the ICAC hearing on Tuesday.

But the minister for broadband later confirmed he too had stayed there, when no member of the Obeid family was present.

“Given media interest in this matter, I wish to declare one stay for two days at this apartment in either 2005 or 2006,” he said in a statement.

Mr Burke was not a government minister during the period he stayed at the apartment.

ICAC is investigating claims Mr Macdonald rigged a 2008 tender process for coal exploration licences in the Bylong Valley, and whether Mr Obeid and his family gained substantial financial benefit from it.

Mr Obeid on Tuesday denied seeking or receiving any insider information from Mr Macdonald regarding valuable coal tenements in the Bylong Valley, west of Newcastle, which are the subject of the hearings.

He agreed that Mr Macdonald had stayed “rent free” at the Perisher ski lodge and that his sons had probably picked up bills for meals he had at the restaurant there.

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