SMH renews federal campaign in wake of Obeid verdict

The front page of The Sydney Morning Herald on 29 June, 2016.

The front page of The Sydney Morning Herald on 29 June, 2016.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reaffirmed its campaign for a federal anti-corruption body in its editorial today, following a Supreme Court jury verdict that found former NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid guilty of misconduct in public office.

The SMH cast a spotlight on Mr Obeid’s dealings in 2012 with a Walkey Award-winning investigation by Kate McClymont and Linton Besser that would lead to an inquiry by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

ICAC found that the Obeid family secretly held leases on cafes at Sydney’s Circular Quay and Obeid had used his influence as an MP to gain advantages for his family.

The recommendations from the ICAC inquiry led to the Supreme Court prosecution. Obeid, 72, is awaiting sentence with jail term a strong possibility.

Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir said Mr Obeid’s conviction was a realisation of numerous reports the paper had undertaken over the years.

“It’s no reason to gloat, but it certainty is a fantastic validation and vindication for this newsroom and for a number of reporters and editors over more than a decade who have relentlessly pursued Mr Obeid, his cohorts and their wrongdoings,” Mr Goodsir said.

“For a long time we were among the only ones really applying the pressure and resources in this.”

The Herald’s editorial assured readers the paper would continue to work on behalf of voters to “expose corruption whatever it might reside and behind whichever political mask it might hide”.

Mr Goodsir told NewsMediaWorks that the Fairfax Media paper would continue to campaign for an independent, federal anti-corruption commission.

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“It’s just nonsensical to think that corruption or the potential for corruption ends at state boarders and does not extend into federal public sector agencies,” Mr Goodsir said.

“Even in the past few days the Labor opposition has started to speak about reviewing its previous resistance to such a body. So there is pressure being applied to what we see as being an inevitable and much-needed improvement to anti-corruption at the federal level.”

The Herald will also argue for the restoration of ICAC funding that was cut in the recent NSW budget.

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