The Supreme Court of New South Wales building in Sydney
The Supreme Court of New South Wales building in Sydney Enoch Lau, Wikimedia Commons

Former Labor minister Ian Macdonald has been sentenced to up to 10 years in jail for brazen misconduct in public office. His ex-union boss, John Maitland, will spend from four years to a maximum of six in prison for being an accessory.

On Friday, Macdonald, who was a minister for Mineral and Forest Resources from 2005 to 2010, was given a non-parole period of seven years. Maitland, on the other hand, will not be eligible for parole until 2021.

In March, the former NSW member was found guilty of two counts of misconduct in public office. He granted Maitland mining licence in 2008 when he was head of the ministry. The charges followed an Independent Commission Against Corruption finding against him in 2013.

The court heard that Macdonald gave Doyles Creek Mining coal exploration licence. The company’s chair, Maitland, who is a former official at the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), made $6 million from the deal.

By giving Maitland the licence, Macdonald allowed the state to lose tens of millions of dollar during “budget constraints,” the Crown said. Justice Christine Adamson called Macdonald “devious” for betraying the people of NSW.

“The coal resources of New South Wales, which should have been used for the benefit of the whole society, were squandered by the criminal conduct of the very person who was trusted to safeguard them,” she said during the sentencing.

As for Maitland, Adamson said he must also be made accountable to deter others seeking government permissions to profit from the wilful misconduct of public officials. Both Maitland and Macdonald were refused bail last week and have spent time since then at the Silverwater Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre.

ABC reports that Macdonald will also be stripped of his parliamentary pension. The NSW government has passed legislation to stop former politicians convicted of serious offences from being paid their super pensions after they leave office.