Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Locals in the NSW town ofOrange are abuzz with gossip about the former mining minister, who appears to have fallen on hard times.
On Tuesday, Ian Macdonald told the inquiry he had been too busy to read all the transcripts of the evidence, saying: ”I do cleaning and work associated with a shop and I’m pretty busy.” Yesterday, he said again he had been occupied because ”I have to earn a living”.
Several people have spotted the 63-year-old former minister at a premium greengrocers, Fresh on Woodward, an attractive small shop that specialises in fresh produce and gourmet preserves.
Annette Nunn, who owns the butcher shop next door, said Mr Macdonald’s wife, the former bureaucrat Anita Gylseth, had been working in the grocery most days of the week, but Mr Macdonald did not seem to do much.
”I couldn’t tell you what he does there,” Ms Nunn said. ”I see him sitting out the front talking … He might take boxes out the back occasionally.”
The owner of the grocery shop, Margot Connors, said she could not comment.
But a friend of Ms Connors told Fairfaxthe Macdonalds had intended to buy the business, but could not get a bank loan. She had been told they now hoped to lease it.
Mr Macdonald has certainly had trouble with the bank. In evidence before the ICAC on Wednesday, he explained that when he sold his home in Northbridge, anything he had left over was ploughed into paying off some of the mortgage he had over his farm on Canobolas Road in Orange.
Pressed about how he was going to repay a questionable loan to a friend’s company, Mr Macdonald said: ”I haven’t got the funds to pay it unless I sell my property, and I’ve been in the process of selling my property, properties for over a year.”
Curiously, Fairfax Regional Mediareported this week that Mr Macdonald had in fact recently taken his property off the market.
When contacted by telephone, Ms Gylseth declined to clarify the arrangement regarding the grocery shop.
”I am not interested in you getting a story right,” she said. ”You disgust me.”
Ms Nunn said she and her husband were not impressed by the evidence that had been given to the inquiry.
”He can go and jump in the lake as far as we’re concerned.”
Ian Macdonald arrives at the ICAC inquiry on February 12. Photo: ROB HOMER