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Party moves to suspend embattled Roozendaal

Sean Nicholls

Published: November 8 2012 - 3:00AM

THE NSW MP and former Treasurer, Eric Roozendaal, is set to be suspended from the Labor Party on Friday following allegations raised during his appearance before the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The Opposition Leader, John Robertson, has written to the general secretary of the NSW Labor Party, Sam Dastyari, requesting the suspension until the ICAC hands down its findings regarding an investigation into Mr Roozendaal's purchase of a car when he was roads minister.

Mr Roozendaal, a former general secretary of NSW Labor, will also be barred from attending caucus meetings and participating in party decisions while the suspension is in place.

The commission has held public hearings this week into the circumstances surrounding the purchase of a Honda CRV by Mr Roozendaal in 2007.

It has heard evidence that the purchase price was $44,800 but Mr Roozendaal paid $10,800 less and the difference was paid by the family of former Labor powerbroker and minister, Eddie Obeid.

The ICAC heard the arrangement was a ''sham'' to conceal the fact that Mr Roozendaal had obtained a financial benefit through Mr Obeid's son Moses.

Mr Roozendaal and the Obeids denied this was the case. Mr Roozendaal conceded that both Eddie and Moses Obeid might have lobbied him over their business interests but said he had never assisted them.

Mr Robertson wrote to Mr Dastyari requesting the suspension on Wednesday, the day after Mr Roozendaal was accused by counsel assisting the commission of ''fibbing'' to the inquiry.

It has also emerged in evidence that Mr Roozendaal submitted false information to the Roads and Traffic Authority regarding the Honda, that he did not sign a contract and only paid for the car 10 days after picking it up.

''The suspension is not intended to prejudge the findings of the ICAC, however a number of serious and as yet unresolved allegations have been raised in public hearings over the past week,'' Mr Robertson wrote.

Mr Robertson said he expected Mr Roozendaal would continue to sit in the Legislative Council and would continue to vote with Labor.

Mr Robertson's request will be considered by the administrative committee of NSW Labor on Friday. It is expected to agree to the request.

The decision comes less than a week after Mr Robertson declared he was ''not going to show any mercy'' to Eddie Obeid and Mr Roozendaal if serious allegations are made against them by the ICAC.

Apart from the investigation into the car purchase, the commission will also examine the allocation of coalmining licences by the department of another former Labor MP, Ian Macdonald, when he was minister for mineral resources and whether confidential information was made available to Mr Obeid.

Mr Roozendaal refused to comment when contacted.

Mr Robertson told ABC radio's PM program he believed Mr Roozendaal was ''somebody who would have given the truth and answered truthfully at ICAC''.

Mr Robertson said he would watch Mr Obeid's evidence closely at ICAC. ''And if need be I'll take the same sort of action.''

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