'Don't shilly-shally', Macdonald told at inquiry

Ian Macdonald has endured several gruelling hours in the witness box at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, where he was told not to "shilly-shally" by the state's anti-corruption tsar, David Ipp QC.

The disgraced former resources minister did not deny providing confidential information to the family of ALP powerbroker Eddie Obeid concerning a controversial 2008 coal tender, which enabled them to set up deals worth more than $75 million.

But during his second day of questioning, Mr Macdonald said he did not recall the crucial conversation with Mr Obeid's son, Moses Obeid, and tried to dispute the confidentiality of the material Moses Obeid has told the inquiry he received.

Mr Macdonald's repeated attempts to qualify his understanding of confidentiality earned Mr Ipp's rebuke.

"Do you accept it is very confidential?" Mr Ipp asked of an internal department briefing for a forthcoming campaign of coal resource tenders.

When Mr Macdonald repeatedly tried to say that only "aspects" were confidential, Mr Ipp lost his patience: "Don't shilly-shally."

The commission is investigating the 2008 tender, and has alleged a "criminal conspiracy" between Mr Macdonald and Mr Obeid.

Mr Macdonald said both his former chief of staff, Jamie Gibson, and a senior departmental officer, Brad Mullard, had both mistaken his instructions about the creation of a coal tenement, which turned out to sit under three of the properties controlled by the Obeids at Mt Penny, near Mudgee.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Geoffrey Watson SC, put to him several times the he personally instructed that the Mt Penny tenement be created.

"Mullard and Gibson are totally wrong? Three of you in the room, two of them are wrong and you're right?" Mr Watson asked.

"I think the points you have put to me are totally wrong," Mr Macdonald replied.

The Obeid family is alleged to have purchased properties in the Bylong area before the government announced it was opening the area for coal exploration. The Obeids stood to make a windfall of $100 million, the inquiry has heard.

Mr Macdonald resigned from NSW Parliament in June 2010 following allegations that he made "errors" in his travel expenses relating to a 2008 trip to Italy and Dubai.

The story 'Don't shilly-shally', Macdonald told at inquiry first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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