Two former members of Parliament and political power brokers in the New South Wales have been implicated in separate corruption schemes related to developing coal in the southeastern Australia state. Both cases resulted from inquiries by the Independent Commission Against Corruption into the activities of the former NSW Labor government.
In May, former NSW Mining Minister Ian Macdonald was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years for awarding a multimillion-dollar coal exploration license in 2008 to a company chaired by a union boss and political associate without a competitive public bidding process. In previous licenses granted for coal exploration in New South Wales, companies had paid tens of millions of dollars to the government as compensation, but the license to Doyles Creek Mining, run by a political associate, was offered for almost nothing in return to the state. The judge at Macdonald’s hearing noted the deviousness of the deal, saying it was cloaked in misconduct as the principals tried to hide their scheme by couching it in the context of developing a training mine to promote mining safety. The former head of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union made $6 million from the deal selling shares in a company that acquired Doyles Creek Mining after the license was granted and was found guilty as an accessory.
In July 2016, another former member of Parliament, Eddie Obeid, was charged for his role in netting a $30 million profit from a rigged permitting process for developing coal on Obeid family property while he was still in office. Macdonald was also charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in that scheme.