Labor moves to suspend Obeid over 'shocking' allegations

John Robertson ... says the allegations are shocking.
John Robertson ... says the allegations are shocking.
Labor kingpin ... Eddie Obeid

Labor kingpin ... Eddie Obeid

The NSW opposition leader, John Robertson, has moved to have the former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid suspended from the party, describing allegations aired about him during a corruption hearing as "shocking".

During day one of an inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption into the awarding of lucrative coal licences by the former mineral resources minister Ian Macdonald, the commission heard NSW taxpayers have missed out on "tens of millions of dollars" due to a scheme designed to allegedly net the Obeid family $100 million.

In his opening address, counsel assisting, Geoffrey Watson, SC, said the scheme could represent corruption "unexceeded since the days of the Rum Corps".

He said decisions by Mr Macdonald led to coal assets being "given away to friends, political supporters and business associates of the minister".

Mr Robertson announced he had moved to ask Labor's head office to suspend Mr Obeid's membership immediately.

"The gravity of the allegations that came out this morning at the ICAC in the opening statements are so shocking that I have move to act immediately," Mr Robertson said this afternoon.

"I, like most people, can't believe the magnitude and the seriousness of these allegations."

Mr Robertson said he was "not going to allow the Labor party to continue to be dogged by these sorts of allegations".

On Friday, the party membership of another former Labor minister, Eric Roozendaal, was suspended after his appearance before the ICAC, which has been investigating his purchase of a Honda CRV car when he was roads minister in 2007.

Mr Roozendaal, a former general secretary of NSW Labor, is barred from attending caucus meetings and participating in party decisions while the suspension is in place, but remains in the NSW upper house as an MP.

The suspension followed evidence that the purchase price of the car was $44,800 but Mr Roozendaal paid $10,800 less and the difference was allegedly paid by the family of Mr Obeid.

The ICAC heard the arrangement was a "sham" to conceal the fact that Mr Roozendaal had obtained a financial benefit through Mr Obeid's son Moses. Mr Roozendaal and the Obeids denied this was the case.

- with Linton Besser and Kate McClymont

This story Labor moves to suspend Obeid over 'shocking' allegations first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.