Journal reveals Macdonald’s link to Chinese greenhouse near Mt Canobolas

LOCKED UP: Former Orange resident and politician Ian Macdonald. Photo: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
LOCKED UP: Former Orange resident and politician Ian Macdonald. Photo: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

JAILED former Orange resident and politician Ian Macdonald’s involvement in a controversial greenhouse facility has been highlighted in leaked diary excerpts.

Macdonald's journal, provided to the Sydney Morning Herald, is peppered with bursts of vitriol such as “Greenies are for target practice” and that the Independent Commission Against Corruption singled him out for “public humiliation.”

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do” was the inscription on the first page of the black, imitation-leather book.

But predominantly the journal records a dizzying array of money-making schemes Macdonald had on the boil before he was jailed in June for misconduct while in public office.

It reveals he had a business relationship with the Chinese investors who had purchased his property near Mount Canobolas in Orange in 2014.

The development application was lodged with Cabonne Council by partners Universal Trading Pty Ltd and Orange Towac Valley Pty Ltd.

Macdonald’s journal shows he was working on a mission statement for their website – “Orange Towac Valley PL is a company dedicated to exporting quality safe food to Asia.

“Our mission is to deliver from the gardens, orchards and farms of the world's safest biosecure agricultural producer – Australia.”

The company received council approval in November to erect two 5222-square metre greenhouses to grow Asian vegetables and an 870-square meter packing facility, which neighbouring resident complained would be bigger than Bunnings.

Councillors gave the development the green light because the building would be cut into the hillside and fall below the tree line, and the positives outweighed the negatives. 

The journal also showed around June 2015, Macdonald was trying to introduce prospective Chinese purchasers to buy businessman Richard Thomas' winery in Orange and was to receive a 4 per cent commission.

Mr Thomas did not respond to Fairfax Media's inquiries.

Macdonald sold his Canobolas Road farm in 2014 for $900,000.

The 68-year-old former mining and agriculture minister was jailed for 10 years in June for criminal misconduct, with a non-parole period of seven, after a jury found he had gifted a lucrative coal mine to a mate, John Maitland, who was also jailed.

He is serving his sentence at Cooma.