Ian Macdonald’s fiery day in ICAC witness box

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Ian Macdonald’s fiery day in ICAC witness box

Amy Dale
The Daily Telegraph
February 12, 20133:14PM

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Ian Macdonald arrives at ICAC / Pic: Cameron Richardson Source: The Daily Telegraph

IAN Macdonald says he provided a list of mining company names to Moses Obeid “in good faith” and now feels “a bit swiped from the side” that the family went on to earn millions from the a coal deal.

Mr Macdonald has spent all day under fire in the corruption watchdog’s witness box and told the inquiry that information he gave to the son of former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid “turned out in a way I had no idea it was going to go.”

He has admitted he gave Mr Obeid a list of 12 mining companies, with ICAC allege has enabled them to earn at least $30 million from a coal mining venture in the Bylong Valley, where they own three properties.

Geoffrey Watson SC, the counsel assisting the inquiry, asked Mr Macdonald if he felt “duped” by the subsequent Obeid millions.

“(You) provided information that a parliamentary colleague and a friend have been able to make tens of millions of dollars,” Mr Watson said.

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HE entered and left with the grin of a Cheshire Cat. But after years to prepare himself for his answer to the reason he put a mining tenement on former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid’s farm, the best Ian Macdonald could offer was that he spotted the coal tenement on an atlas in his office – an atlas which he no longer had.
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Mr Macdonald said he felt “a bit swiped from the side.”

ICAC has been told Mr Macdonald asked senior staff for a list of mining companies which could apply for the licences in the Bylong Valley a day before meeting Moses Obeid at a cafe near Parliament House.

Earlier, Mr Macdonald had begun a fiery second day in ICAC’s witness box, denying he instructed senior staff to create the “Mt Penny tenement” which was later exposed as being “smack bang” over the Obeid family property.

But the former resources minister has been unable to explain how enlarged maps, specifically requested by him, of the Bylong Valley area that was later allocated for an exploration licence was found in the Obeid Corp office.

The inquiry has been told there is no record of the “confidential” maps being kept in Mr Macdonald’s office.

“The same size map, in the same format (that you requested) is in the Obeid possession, can you explain that?”

Geoffrey Watson SC, the counsel assisting the inquiry, asked.

“I can’t,” he replied.

“Did you instruct somebody else to do it?” Mr Watson asked.

“I didn’t,” he said.

The inquiry heard there was a meeting between Mr Macdonald, his former chief of staff Jamie Gibson and departmental officer Brad Mullard about the allocation of mining tenements.

Both Mr Gibson and Mr Mullard have told ICAC Mr Macdonald “instructed” the creation of “the Mt Penny tenement”- but the under fire ex MP has denied this.

“I didn’t instruct- we discussed it and I gave a point of view but I didn’t tell anyone,” Mr Macdonald said.

Mr Macdonald will today be grilled over 40 pieces of evidence which ICAC allege tie him to a corrupt coal deal invoking the Obeids.

He is accused of rigging the tender process for exploration licences in the Bylong Valley to the potential $100 million benefit of “his friends the Obeids.”

The hearing continues.

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