Ian Macdonald sentenced to ten years jail

Former Labor minister Ian Macdonald sentenced to 10 years for misconduct in public office

CORRUPT former Labor minister Ian Macdonald, 68, has been sentenced to a minimum of seven years and maximum 10 years jail for brazen misconduct in public office in which he “betrayed” the people of NSW.

Today his mate and ex-union boss John Maitland, 71, was also sentenced to a minimum of four years and maximum of six years for two counts of being an accessory.

Former Labor MP Ian Macdonald is led into court for sentencing today. Picture: Toby Zerna
Former Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union boss John Maitland. Picture: Toby Zerna

Moments after he was sentenced Macdonald issued a statement flagging his intention to appeal his conviction.

“I want to thank my family and my many friends for their ongoing support. These events have distressed them beyond comprehension and I can only express my gratitude for their unwavering support and love,” he said.

“I strenuously deny that I was engaged in any misconduct in the execution of my role as Minister for Mineral Resources. My motivation in relation to the Doyles Creek exploration licence was always to act in the public interest and to save miner’s lives. I look forward to pursuing this matter on appeal.”

Maitland gathered a plastic bag containing manilla envelopes and waved to his daughter before saying, “I’ll speak to you later.”

Outside of court John Maitland’s daughter said: “It’s a very dark day when an innocent man has just been sent to prison.”

Opposition Leader Luke Foley, who took the stand during the trial, said he welcomed Macdonald’s jailing.

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

“I welcome today’s sentencing. It 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.”

In March this year, a jury found Macdonald guilty of two counts of misconduct in public office after he granted a mining licence to Maitland who made $6 million from the deal.

During their trial, the court heard Macdonald was the minister for primary industries and mineral resources when he awarded a lucrative coal exploration licence to Doyles Creek Mining in 2008 — a company which was chaired by Maitland at the time.

Ian Macdonald faces at least seven years in jail. Picture: Toby Zerna

In handing down her sentence, Justice Christine Adamson said Macdonald was “reckless” and his actions had “betrayed” the people of NSW.

“The offender’s conduct damaged the institutions of government and public confidence in them …[his offending] tainted the state’s reputation,” Justice Adamson said.

“Mr Macdonald was guilty of gross breaches of the trust that parliament had placed in him. His offending is extremely serious.”

During the trial Macdonald told the court, “I only acted in the public interest” when he sealed the deal with his friend over a lavish meal at Rose Bay’s Catalina in December, 2008.

Justice Adamson found his criminal conduct was more serious than his buddy Eddie Obeid who was sentenced to a minimum of three years in jail last year for his misconduct in public office over lucrative Circular Quay leases.

“Serious as [Obeid’s] conduct was, it was not nearly as serious for the conduct in which Mr Macdonald stands to be sentenced,” she said.

Justice Adamson said Macdonald knew granting his mate a licence “looked bad and was bad”.

“[Macdonald] was not motivated by the object of furthering the public interest,” adding he had granted to licence to Maitland, the former head of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, “without reasonable cause of justification”.

Macdonald and Maitland were on bail throughout their trial but were refused bail last Friday and have spent the past week at Silverwater Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre.

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