Eddie Obeid bail rejected, ordered to jail

Ex-NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid (centre) has had his bail revoked after being sentenced to jail.
Ex-NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid (centre) has had his bail revoked after being sentenced to jail.

Former NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid will enjoy one more night of freedom before heading to jail after his release order was rejected by a judge.

The 77-year-old was sentenced in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday to at least three years and 10 months in prison over a rigged tender for a coal exploration licence.

As he was deemed at risk of death if he were to contract COVID-19 in custody, a bail application was allowed to be heard on Friday.

But Justice Elizabeth Fullerton found she was not satisfied that special or exceptional circumstances would justify his continued release, and ordered he travel directly to Silverwater jail at 10am on Saturday.

This was to ensure Obeid didn't pass through Surry Hills police station, with Justice Fullerton expressing concern about systems there for avoiding coronavirus transmission.

The judge earlier advised Obeid's lawyer that if he was unsuccessful in securing bail the consequences "will present an obvious obstacle filing a further application".

Following reports the crime commissioner would not be seeking the $30 million Obeid's family made from the proceeds of crime, NSW Police Minister David Elliott said he would give them additional powers to do so.

"I don't care if the ATO strip him bare, as far as I'm concerned the crime commissioner can take his socks and jocks," he said.

"Even if they are out of reach it's not going to stop us from having a go at them."

On Thursday Obeid's former ministerial colleague Ian Macdonald was also jailed for at least five years and three months in jail, while his son Moses Obeid was jailed for at least three years.

While his 52-year-old son and 72-year-old Macdonald were taken into custody, the court was told they also intended to appeal and would be seeking bail.

But their application will be before another judge because, unlike Eddie Obeid, their appeals include a ground submitting her guilty verdict was "unreasonable".

Some 83 per cent of current NSW prison inmates had received their first COVID-19 vaccination, while 65.6 per cent were fully vaccinated, according to Corrective Services NSW.

Justice Fullerton remarked these numbers were impressive given they had almost doubled since mid-September.

In July the judge found all three guilty of conspiring for Macdonald to engage in misconduct as a minister between 2007 and 2009.

The then resources minister was found to have breached his duties by providing confidential information to the Obeids over a coal exploration licence which delivered a $30 million windfall to their family.

In jailing the trio, Justice Fullerton found the objective seriousness of the conspiracy "was one of the highest order".

She said father and son were aware of Macdonald's actions in establishing and granting the licence over the Obeids' family property at Mount Penny, in the Bylong Valley near Mudgee, for the family's financial benefit.

"Edward Obeid and Moses Obeid were patently motivated by a desire to maximise the financial benefit to them and their family in exploiting the value of the coal underlying Cherrydale Park," she said

No financial or other benefit has been shown to have accrued to Macdonald for his agreement to wilfully breach his ministerial duties and obligations.

"The fact that no evidence of motive is discernible does not mitigate the extreme gravity of his criminal culpability as a co-conspirator," she said.

Australian Associated Press