‘Sir Lunchalot’ Ian Macdonald’s jailhouse blues
28 July 2018
“My husband is innocent and should not be in jail let alone be trucked all over the state to ensure maximum harm comes to his mental state and mine,” complained the wife of the now-jailed former Labor minister Ian Macdonald.
Anita Gylseth last month sent a blistering email to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, her deputy John Barilaro and a number of NSW cabinet ministers complaining about the location of the jails to which her husband had been sent and the inconvenience it had caused Macdonald’s family.
Former minister Ian Macdonald is taken into custody following a court hearing in May 2017. (View SMH Link)
She complained about Macdonald previously being in Cooma “which is a nine-hour round trip or if I stayed overnight the cost of accommodation was added to the hefty fuel bill.”
She also complained about his recent transfer to Junee prison in the Riverina “as our family unit is already in disarray with the outcome of the ICAC media driven trial”.
In June 2017, Ms Gylseth’s husband, the former mining minister, was jailed for a maximum of 10 years for criminal misconduct for giving a lucrative coal exploration licence to former union boss John Maitland, who was also jailed.
On the same day she emailed the Premier, Ms Gylseth also emailed senior Labor MPs imploring them to help her battle to establish a royal commission on what she suggested was a witch hunt led by former senior Liberals and the ICAC that, she claims, led to her husband’s wrongful conviction.
Junee Correctional Centre. (View SMH Link)
Photo: Paul Harris
“Please take up the cause for me as I can no longer bear the nightmare that Barry O’Farrell and Chris Hartcher and Brad Hazard (sic) & [Mike] Baird have created for me and my family,” Ms Gylseth emailed the Labor politicians on June 23.
In her email to the Liberal MPs, Ms Gylseth complained about her husband’s annual colonoscopy and his hernia operation, which she claimed was overdue, as well as her husband being transferred to various prisons which were inconveniently located from her home in the Blue Mountains.
“I received a call from Ian yesterday at 3pm telling me in a most distressed state that he was calling from Silverwater Correctional Centre and that he was being moved to Junee. Ian has chosen non association as he has been threatened by other inmates. He would reconsider this if there was somewhere with low association that was close to his family,” Ms Gylseth wrote in her email.
A noticeable absentee on the list of nine senior Labor politicians emailed by Ms Gylseth was Opposition Leader Luke Foley.
In 2013, Mr Foley told the ICAC that Macdonald was known as “Eddie Obeid’s left testicle”. This was a reference to Macdonald’s former close ally who has been jailed over an unrelated matter.
In his evidence to the ICAC, Mr Foley said that as a party official in 2006 he had done his best to remove Macdonald from Parliament.
Opposition Leader Luke Foley tried to remove Ian Macdonald from Parliament.
Photo: Brook Mitchell (View SMH Link)
“I formed the view that he had lost his moral compass and was not fit for office,” Mr Foley told the corruption watchdog.
Four years after Mr Foley’s unsuccessful efforts to get Macdonald to quit Parliament, his career imploded.
In 2010, the rorting of the public purse by Macdonald, who had become known as “Sir Lunchalot”, came to an end when the Herald revealed taxpayers had contributed $6000 worth of meals and airfares while Macdonald honeymooned in Rome with his third wife, Ms Gylseth, in 2008.
He had also failed to declare free business-class airfare upgrades with Emirates Airlines worth at least $14,700 soon after he made a decision benefiting the owners of the airline and others in the thoroughbred industry.
As primary industries minister, Macdonald had allowed the multibillion-dollar thoroughbred industry to continue breeding operations in the Hunter Valley during the equine influenza outbreak in 2007.
Macdonald later complained to the ICAC that his financial stress had been exacerbated by adverse media stories which included that Ms Gylseth received a six-figure payout when she left her job in her husband’s department.
It had previously been revealed Ms Gylseth received a handsome pay rise when she moved from her husband’s ministerial staff to a $110,000-a-year executive job within the department over which he presided.