Mateship forged in the land of the long, lavish lunch

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Mateship forged in the land of the long, lavish lunch

Andrew Clennell
The Daily Telegraph
February 08, 201312:00AM

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GREG Jones and Ian Macdonald were best mates. Staffers for former attorney-general Frank Walker from 1977 to 1988 – before ICAC was set up – and it was anything goes.

They were part of a group made to pay back tens of thousands by former premier Neville Wran for a series of lavish lunches on the public purse.

Mr Macdonald went into the upper house. Mr Jones went into business, doing well enough to own a Vaucluse house he put on the market last year for $14 million.

Through those years they kept lunching – including when Mr Macdonald appointed Mr Jones head of the NSW Wine Advisory Council.

The relationship between this pair epitomises NSW Labor Inc. Where business meets politics and the politically connected get rich.

After evidence at ICAC yesterday, it seems Mr Macdonald’s “lack” of money to pay for his houses in Cremorne and Orange were the reason for $195,000 in loans Mr Jones’ company made to him.

They occurred after Nathan Rees dumped Mr Macdonald from cabinet (October 15, 2009) and before Kristina Keneally reinstated him two months later. He went from a minister’s wage of $250,000 to a backbencher’s $130,000.

But those loans had nothing on the bombshell counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson SC dropped – notes handwritten by Mr Jones which Mr Watson alleged were records of payoffs to Mr Macdonald.

Mr Watson also mentioned a bank account Mr Macdonald has in Singapore which we will hear more about. Among the accusations, there was levity. Mr Watson asked who paid for a meal the pair had at Rockpool. Mr Jones replied: “Have you ever seen a politician pay for a meal?”

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