Wednesday, February 6, 2013

And people vote for these parasites, are they F#@KING MAD! Senior Labor figures admit to gifts from Obeid

Eddie Obeid leaves the ICAC after giving evidence today. 5th February 2013
Photo by Dallas Kilponen
Australian Labor Party  powerbroker Eddie Obeid.  

Anthony Stephen 'Tony' Burke
is an Australian politician
representing the Labor
Party, and the current
Minister for
Sustainability, Environment,
Water, Population and Communities.
THREE of Labor's most senior politicians - federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and New South Wales Opposition Leader John Robertson - have been dragged into a corruption probe after admitting they accepted lavish ski trips from the ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid.  
In his final few moments in the witness box at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Tuesday, Mr Obeid named six senior Labor figures he claimed had accepted thousands of dollars worth of hospitality from his family at a lodge in the Perisher ski resort.
Mr Obeid was being questioned about his generosity to former state mining minister Ian Macdonald, who is accused of providing the Obeid family confidential information about a government coal tender. Mr Macdonald was given a rent-free holiday at the Obeids' three-bedroom ski lodge, The Stables at Perisher, which costs more than $7500 a week in peak season. The Obeids also picked up Mr Macdonald's meals tab.
Mr Obeid denied providing such hospitality was to create obligations on behalf of other people. ''We're generous people and we like to share our generosity with our friends,'' he told the corruption inquiry.

Stephen Michael Conroy
is an Australian
politician and the
current Minister for
Broadband, Communications
and the Digital
Economy in the Gillard Ministry.
Mr Obeid added that he thought the federal Workplace Minister, Bill Shorten, had enjoyed a holiday on the slopes with Mr Burke. Mr Obeid was mistaken. It was not Mr Shorten, who doesn't ski, but his colleague Mr Conroy, who issued a statement saying: ''I wish to declare one stay for two days at this apartment in either 2005 or 2006.''
In a statement Mr Burke said: ''Given the media interest which has emerged today, I declare two separate stays at this accommodation in the period 2004 to 2006.''  
Both Mr Burke, who enjoyed two stays, and Mr Conroy, who had one, said the Obeid family was not present. Both ministers said that although they had accepted Mr Obeid's generosity in a personal capacity, the pair believed it was in the public interest to clarify the matter.
The Federal Parliament's disclosure rules state that ''any sponsored travel or hospitality received where the value of the sponsored travel or hospitality exceeds $300'' must be declared.
Mr Obeid said the former NSW premier, Morris Iemma, the former NSW minister Carl Scully and the former federal minister turned lobbyist Mark Arbib had all stayed at The Stables lodge.
John Cameron
Robertson MP,
an Australian politician,
is the Leader of the
Australian Labor Party
in New South Wales
and the Leader of the Opposition
Mr Iemma denied the claim. Mr Scully said he stayed there twice but ''as this was from a fellow parliamentary colleague I did not at the time believe I was required to declare it in the pecuniary interest register''. 
Mr Robertson and Mr Arbib confirmed they had accepted Mr Obeid's hospitality, but said it was before they entered Parliament.                                                          
Mr Robertson said his trip, with his family, occurred in 2007 when he was the head of Unions NSW. He said no politicians or members of the Obeid family were present.
The disclosure comes just days after Mr Robertson unveiled new transparency reforms to clean up Labor's image in NSW and counter the impact of the ICAC inquiry.
Mr Arbib, who now works as a lobbyist for James Packer's Crown Limited, said he had spent a weekend at Mr Obeid's lodge in 2004-05, when he was the general secretary of NSW Labor.
Mr Obeid's testimony came as a result of a two-year investigation undertaken by ICAC into an allegedly corrupt 2008 coal licence tender run by Mr Macdonald that led to windfall gains for the Obeid family of more than $75 million.
During his second day of interrogation by counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson, SC, Mr Obeid was grilled about his own pecuniary interest declaration, which made no mention of the millions of dollars flowing into the Obeid family trust.
Mr Obeid repeatedly declared he did not know and could not explain the workings of the accounts - including how it was that payments made to his family's business partners, its staff and even to himself were channelled through his wife's loan account.

Senior Labor figures admit to gifts from Obeid


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