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Eddie Obeid: from kingpin to prisoner

AAP logoAAP 15/12/2016 Dan McCulloch

He was the Labor kingmaker credited with the rise and fall of three NSW premiers.

Now, corrupt former factional heavyweight Eddie Obeid has been reduced to at least three years in a prison cell.

Obeid was elected to the NSW upper house in 1991 with the backing of revered Labor stalwart Graham Richardson and over a 20 year career, he flexed his political muscles through backroom deals and branch stacking.

Obeid was appointed fisheries and resources minister in 1999 but found himself entangled in controversies which forced then-premier Bob Carr to turf him from cabinet.

But the embarrassing demotion only hardened his resolve to hold sway over premiers, ministers and MPs.

Obeid soon gained access to Morris Iemma and it was his support, along with that of fellow powerbroker Joe Tripodi, which gave Iemma the premiership when Carr retired in 2005.

The pair switched their support to Nathan Rees when Iemma quit in 2008, but he was rolled by Kristina Keneally just 15 months later after losing the support of the party's dominant right faction.

When she became the NSW premier, Ms Keneally told parliament she was "nobody's girl" to shake off accusations that she was Obeid's "puppet".

Eddie Obeid © AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts Eddie Obeid She later took the witness stand at a corruption inquiry to dispel any lingering doubt about her relationship with the crooked former Labor MP.

Obeid has now fallen spectacularly from grace - jailed for at least three years for wilful misconduct in public office.

The 73-year-old has been found guilty of lobbying a senior public servant, in a 2007 phone call, about lucrative Circular Quay leases without revealing his family's stake in the outlets.

His offence was not his failure to disclose those interests, but in communicating with the public servant to advance his or his family's pecuniary interests.

The intervention didn't trigger any financial gain or changes in policy, but the judge said his conduct was a serious departure from the duty he owed the public as an MP.

Politicians openly admit Obeid's actions have inflicted terrible damage on public perception of their profession.

Several lined up to slam the "grub" after he was marched to the cells beneath Darlinghurst Supreme Court to begin his jail sentence.

Obeid must now swap his Hunters Hill mansion for a prison cell as he spends his first night behind bars.

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