UPDATED: Maitland denies paying for $1800 dinner

A personal email indicates that former union boss John Maitland had great influence in securing a mining licence from the NSW government that later made him millions, a corruption hearing has heard.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is probing a coal exploration licence at Doyles Creek in the Hunter Valley granted by then mining minister Ian Macdonald to Mr Maitland and his associates in December 2008 without a competitive tender.

The email shows that Mr Maitland’s wife was annoyed when he didn’t include his usual title at the end of his email, which was sent weeks after the licence was granted.

The email shows Carole Maitland replying to her husband’s email and saying his signature as ‘‘executive director’’ should really say ‘‘executive chairman’’ of the Doyles Creek mine as it does on his business card.

‘‘Wots (sic) this ‘‘executive director’’ crap…your business card says ‘‘executive chairman’’,’’ she said.

‘‘Who did all the work? executive chairman.‘‘Who has all the contact? executive chairman.‘‘Who knows everyone in the government by their first names? executive chairman.‘‘Who was instrumental in getting doyles creek up? executive chairman.’’

The former head of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has repeatedly denied a close personal friendship with the former minister.

‘‘Now that reflects, doesn’t it, what you’d discussed at home about your contributing to getting Doyles Creek up?’’ ICAC lawyer Peter Braham, SC, said referring to the email.

Mr Maitland replied: ‘‘No.’’

Several other emails showed that Mr Maitland used his contacts to get a job for Mr Macdonald’s daughter Sasha in China weeks after her father approved the licence.

Mr Maitland and Ms Macdonald had met at an expensive dinner at the Sydney restaurant Catalina where the mining licence paperwork was signed by her father.

One email revealed that Ms Macdonald sent her CV to the former mining boss.

‘‘At some stage during the dinner did (Mr Macdonald) suggest you might be able to look after his daughter?’’ Mr Braham said.

‘‘No,’’ Mr Maitland said.

‘‘As a quid pro quo for the help that he’d given you?’’ Mr Braham asked.

‘‘No,’’ Mr Maitland said.‘‘Did she in fact get a job in China to your knowledge?’’ Mr Braham asked.

‘‘She did,’’ Mr Maitland said.

‘‘Through your contacts?’’ Mr Braham asked.

‘‘Yes,’’ Mr Maitland replied. The Doyles Creek licence allegedly turned Mr Maitland’s $165,000 investment into about $15 million when it was sold and has been described as a financial disaster for NSW taxpayers.

John Maitland leaving the ICAC hearing this week. Picture Rob Homer

Earlier in the dayMr Maitlanddenied he took then NSW mining minister Ian Macdonald out for an extravagant $1800 dinner as thanks for the licence.

Mr Maitland told the inquiry the dinner was originally organised to introduce Chinese investors to Mr Macdonald at NSW parliament.

When the investors cancelled, the dinner went ahead at a different venue – the high-end Sydney restaurant Catalina – and the $1800 bill was paid by a business associate of Mr Maitland, he told the ICAC.

But Mr Maitland also told Peter Braham, SC, counsel assisting ICAC, the dinner was organised to sign the mining licence agreement.

‘‘You don’t actually have to have a dinner to get anything done,’’ Mr Braham said.

‘‘Was it a thank-you dinner?’’

‘‘No,’’ Mr Maitland said.

‘‘Was it a celebration?’’

Mr Braham said.‘‘Well, we were pretty happy,’’ Mr Maitland said.

‘‘You understood, didn’t you, that you were obliged to take the minister out to dinner, you owed him at decent thank you, he’d done you a big favour,’’ Mr Braham said


ICAC Commissioner David Ipp commented: ‘‘Isn’t it a little bit like a team that wins the grand final and has a dinner with a referee?’’

Mr Maitland said the dinner cost so much because it was also a Christmas party for the minister’s staff and Mr Macdonald’s daughter was also there.

He said his business associate Craig Ransley paid the bill.

Emails viewed by the inquiry showed Mr Maitland helped Mr Macdonald’s daughter Sasha get a job in China through his mining contacts after the mining licence was approved.

That licence allegedly turned Mr Maitland’s $165,000 investment into about $15 million when it was sold.

The deal was been described as a financial disaster for the people of NSW.

The hearing continues.