Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Obeid Appears Before ICAC Again -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Disgraced former New South Wales minister, Eddie Obeid, has found himself at the centre of a new corruption inquiry.

The ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) today heard that Mr Obeid lobbied his colleagues about restaurant leases at Sydney's Circular Quay without disclosing his family's interests in the businesses.

There are also claims he tried to influence water licence conditions for a property purchased by a family company. The inquiry heard Eddie Obeid's actions could amount to criminal misconduct.

From the commission, Karl Hoerr reports.

KARL HOERR, REPORTER: Politicians, including Eddie Obeid, are well used to dealing with lobbyists.

IAN TEMBY QC, COUNSEL ASSISTING: By definition, lobbyists seek to advance particular vested interests. A member of Parliament on the other hand is a trustee of the power vested in him or her by the people.

KARL HOERR: But the commission heard this inquiry is about lobbying of an unusual kind - that by a politician. Eddie Obeid's family had interests in two retail leases at Circular Quay and the former Upper House MP made representations to four successive ministers with responsibility for them.

IAN TEMBY QC: He did so without disclosing his family's hidden interests in the retail leases, and decisions were ultimately made which were highly favourable to them and other retail lessees in the precinct.

KARL HOERR: When the leases expired, they were to be put out to tender, but the policy changed in 2007 when direct negotiation with existing tenants was allowed.

In 2009, the leases were renewed for five years.

IAN TEMBY QC: By that time, the beginning of 2009, the Obeid family had engaged business brokers to sell the businesses.

KARL HOERR: At the relevant time, the business was run by John Abood, the brother plaintiff Obeid's wife.

Mr Abood says said he thought going to tender was unjustified and he took steps to have the policy changed, but he said that didn't involve raising it with his brother-in-law.

Steve Dunn was deputy CEO of New South Wales Maritime and is said to have been in phone contact with Eddie Obeid.

IAN TEMBY QC: Obvious questions that arise are how the commercial lease policy came to be changed at a late stage, what role, if any, Mr Dunn played in that change, and if he did anything at the behest of Mr Obeid Snr.

KARL HOERR: Mr Dunn will also feature in another part of the inquiry about attempts to increase water allocations at a property in the Bylong Valley bought by an Obeid family company.

The commission also heard in 2005, Mr Obeid handed then-treasurer Michael Costa a letter from a company seeking work to help combat public sector absenteeism. Again, Mr Obeid's interests in the company weren't disclosed.

The inquiry is scheduled to last three weeks.

Karl Hoerr, Lateline.