Macdonald travel rort staffer gets new government role

14 Jul, 2010 09:16 AM
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Ian Macdonald.
Ian Macdonald.

The chief-of-staff and travelling companion to the disgraced former minister Ian Macdonald who cost taxpayers more than $13,000 because of an overseas trip without government permission, has been reappointed to Mr Macdonald's old department.

Jamie Gibson is now working as a policy adviser to Industry and Investment NSW, after losing his job as Mr Macdonald's chief adviser when the senior Labor politician was forced to resign for rorting travel expenses on a trip to Rome and Dubai in 2008.

An investigation for the Department of Premier and Cabinet, instigated in the wake of stories published by the Sydney Morning Herald, found Mr Gibson's travel was ''not undertaken in accordance with former Premier Iemma's approval letter of 4 January 2008''.

Mr Macdonald had failed to declare airline upgrades provided to him, his wife and two friends by Emirates Airlines worth $30,000, but was forced out for lying to the Premier, Kristina Keneally, over a $2815 economy airfare he had claimed back from the taxpayer.

Taxpayers spent $13,314 sending Mr Gibson to Dubai for five days to assist Mr Macdonald in several meetings, including a $1595 expenses-paid trip to Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa that he was unable to explain to investigators. The report said this contradicted Mr Iemma's letter.

''That letter indicated that Mr Gibson was approved to accompany the minister to the UAE at his own expense, and then proceed on private leave,'' the report found. ''All of Mr Gibson's travel and accommodation costs for the visit were, in fact, met at public expense. It, however, appears that Mr Gibson did not actually take recreation leave in Dubai, as he had planned.''

The report found ''Mr Gibson had some grounds for his belief that Mr Iemma had subsequently approved that his costs … would be met at public expense''.

''This belief appears to have been based on information provided to him by the minister's then chief-of-staff, Mr Adam Badenoch, who told us on oath that it was his recollection that a further letter issued from the Premier's office amending the conditions of Mr Gibson's travel.''

In the end, the Department of Premier and Cabinet was ''unable to locate such a letter'', and Mr Iemma, and his former chief-of-staff Josh Murray, could not recall amending the travel conditions.

The report was referred by Ms Keneally to the Independent Commission Against Corruption last month.

Brett Fifield, a spokesman for Industry and Investment NSW, declined to answer the Herald's questions about Mr Gibson's appointment. ''Mr Gibson has held a permanent position with Industry and Investment NSW … since 1996,'' he said.

''He was on temporary transfer to the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Industry and Investment NSW is Mr Gibson's home agency.''

Mr Gibson did not return the calls from the Herald.

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READER COMMENTS

tigerdicky
14/07/2010 8:33:56 AM, on The Land

Who cares, he probably deserved it!
Totally Cheesed Off
14/07/2010 9:42:03 PM, on The Land

Why would the department's spokesman decline to comment if it is all above board. Would The Land please follow up and maybe contact the Macdonald appointed Director General of this department who happens to be a public servant earning around $500 grand a year. A public servant that has virtually avoided all the controversy that Macdonald seems to attract.

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