NSW Treasurer Mike Baird today provided the first reliable assessments of the cost to the NSW Budget of the corrupt and negligent activities revealed recently by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
A report prepared for Mr Baird by officials in NSW Treasury and the Division of Resources & Energy within NSW Trade & Investment has confirmed the direct cost to taxpayers of Labor’s corruption and negligence in relation to two coal exploration licenses has been up to $90 million.
“This is a staggering figure,” Mr Baird said, after briefing Budget Estimates.
“Because of corrupt and negligent decisions made by former Labor minister Ian Macdonald to benefit his mates, this is $90 million lost – dollars that would better have been spent on hospitals, schools and public transport.”
The ICAC has found that Ian Macdonald and Eddie Obeid acted corruptly in relation to the Mount Penny mining tenement in the Bylong Valley. It has also been confirmed at ICAC that Macdonald by-passed a competitive tender and awarded a license for a so-called “training mine” at Doyles Creek to a group of entrepreneurs, including his union contact John Maitland
While it is not possible to give a precise estimate of the value of the exploration licences, a contemporary and indicative value, in terms of up-front fee payments, would be in the $30-50 million range for Mount Penny and in the $20-40 million range for Doyles Creek.
In addition, the two assets would be expected to generate combined annual royalty payments of over $50 million, of which NSW is yet to see a single dollar.
“The $90 million squandered in these sordid deals could have provided 900 teachers, or seven new primary schools, or 450 science lab upgrades,” Mr Baird said.
“Coal is a precious resource that belongs to all the people of NSW. Instead, Labor treated this resource as an ATM for its mates.
“The message from all of this for the government and the people of NSW must be: Never again.”