Bylong farmer tells ICAC Obeid lied to the press

A cattle farmer from the NSW Bylong Valley yesterday told a corruption inquiry that former Labor minister Eddie Obeid lied to the media about mining coming to the area.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations into decisions made my former mining minister Ian Macdonald to open up the Bylong Valley for mining.

A decision which put the Obeids in a position to make millions of dollars from exploration licences.

Long time local resident and farmer Stuart Andrews yesterday was shown a December 2012 article from The Australian newspaper in which Eddie Obeid was reported as saying that in early 2008 ‘‘rumours were rife’’ about a mine in the Bylong Valley, the Herald reported.

‘‘What do you say about that statement?’’ Geoffrey Watson SC, counsel assisting the commissioner, asked Andrews.

‘‘There’s one word that I could use, but I won’t. I believe it to be untrue,’’ Andrews replied.

‘‘Does the word you were thinking of start with B,’’ Watson asked.

‘‘It does,’’ Andrews said.

Andrews said he didn’t know anything about mining coming to the Bylong area until the beginning of 2010.

‘‘In 2003, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, did you, Mr Andrews, hear of any rumours of any mining activity in the Bylong Valley?’’ Mr Watson asked.

‘‘No, I did not,’’ Andrews replied.

Earlier in yesterday’s proceedings, Eddie Obeid’s lawyer, Stuart Littlemore, slammed the press for treating details of Obeid family trust accounts, tendered as evidence on Wednesday, with ‘‘appalling prurience’’.

Commissioner David Ipp said persons may have "utilised enormous financial benefits as a result" of the misuse of state assets.

"These are issues which I consider to be in the public interest to be ventilated," Mr Ipp said.

The inquiry will next sit on Tuesday.

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