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Former Labor minister jailed for misconduct

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Former NSW Minister Eddie Obeid has been sentenced to a minimum three years in jail for misconduct in public office.

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The 73-year-old former Labor powerbroker was found guilty in July of lobbying a senior public servant about lucrative Circular Quay leases without revealing his family’s stake in the outlets.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Robert Beech-Jones sentenced Obeid to a maximum of five years.

The judge said it was “overwhelmingly likely” that Obeid was aware of the substantial outlays his family had made in relation in buying two businesses at Circular Quay.

The jury had rejected the possibility Obeid was even partly motivated to speak to the public servant because of a general concern about the mistreatment of tenants, and those at Circular Quay.

Rather, the judge said, Obeid “was solely motivated ” to gain a benefit for himself or at least his family.

Justice Beech-Jones referred to the importance of general deterrence in sentencing, noting the “onerous” duty imposed on public officials.

“The more senior the position, the greater the level of public trust.”

Parliamentarians cannot use their position to try to help their family or associates in any form, the judge said.

He rejected the defence submission that Obeid’s offending was at the bottom end of the scale of objective seriousness.

Obeid, who has nine living children and 33 grandchildren, has a “constellation” of medical issues and in August suffered a mild stroke.

The judge accepted that Obeid would receive superior medical treatment in the community, but said it would be adequate in jail.

– AAP

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