Premier stands up to political corruption

Premier Gladys Berejiklian moved this week to strip Eddie Obeid and his one-time colleague Ian Macdonald of their ongoing parliamentary entitlements.

While the Premier should be praised for taking a stand it’s hard to fathom that their entitlements hadn’t already been stripped.

What have our state pollies been doing?

Shouldn’t this have already happened?

There should be no need for the Premier to take a stand, wouldn’t all sides of the political debate be standing side by side on this matter.

Obeid, the former NSW Labor MP, was jailed for a maximum of five years in December for corruptly lobbying a senior bureaucrat about his family's undisclosed business interests at Circular Quay.

The former NSW Labor resources minister Macdonald was jailed last week for a maximum of 10 years for the corrupt granting of a coal exploration licence to a company linked to his good mate, the former union boss John Maitland.

The corrupt actions of the two men "constitute a complete betrayal; of public trust", Ms Berejiklian said.

Legislation passed last week closes a loophole that had allowed politicians convicted of a crime committed during their time in office to retain their pension and or lump sum entitlements if they resigned before being charged with the offence.

Obeid has been paid a taxpayer-funded pension of more than $120,000 a year since he quit politics in 2011. Mr Macdonald was entitled to an annual indexed pension of $135,535 when he quit politics in 2010.

In the Court of Criminal Appeal Obeid waved to members of his family via video link from Silverwater jail while his lawyers argued his conviction had been a miscarriage of justice, in part on the grounds that he was not legally obliged to act only according to the public interest when he was in office, but it was "a mere matter of conscience".

Guy Reynolds, SC, who led the appeal team said there was no "duty of law" for Obeid to act solely in the public interest; rather, it was "like a duty to be nice to your mum".

Obeid has every right to appeal his conviction, and every right to employ whichever arguments he thinks might support his case.

Equally, the taxpayers have every right to expect that those they trust to public office will not exploit their positions and those who do would be punished.