The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC



Rann Government Appointments

Wednesday, 30 April 2003

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. R.I. Lucas: That this council notes recent appointments made since the state government was installed in March 2002. (Continued from 26 March. Page 1982.)

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Leader of the Opposition): In January this year I issued a media statement expressing concern about appointments being made by the Rann government. In that report I indicated that I welcomed further information in relation to key Labor appointments being made and indicated that the Liberal Party would continue to monitor those appointments and, on an on-going basis, we would issue updated reports in relation to the appointment process.

In January 2003 we issued the first of the Rann government appointments survey and in that press statement I listed a number of appointments, such as: Frank Blevins (a former Labor minister) to the South Australian Water Corporation Board; Greg Crafter (a former Labor minister) to the Racing Industry Advisory Council; Sam Crafter (Greg Crafter's son) as ministerial adviser to minister Jane Lomax-Smith; Steve Georganas (an ex Labor candidate) as minister¬ial adviser to Jay Weatherill; Wendy Georganas (the wife of Steve Georganas) as personal assistant to minister Steph Key; Robyn Layton (the ex wife of John Bannon) to review child protection laws, and also on the Legal Practitioners Disciplin¬ary Tribunal; Jeremy Moore (ex Labor Party candidate) to the Aquaculture Tenure Allocation Board; and Susanne Cole (wife of Tim Stanley, ex Labor Party candidate) as first judge of the District Court.

Brian Stanley (the father of Tim Stanley) was appoint¬ed to review workers compensation and OH&S laws. Mark Hancock (an ex-Labor candidate) was a ministerial adviser to minister Pat Conlon. Lindsay Simmons (an ex-Labor Party candidate) was appointed Chief of Staff to minister Trish White, and Justin Jarvis (an ex-Labor candidate) as minister¬ial adviser to minister Terry Roberts. Greg Stevens (an ex-union official and Labor Party president) was appointed to review the industrial relations system. Chris White (an ex-UTLC secretary) was appointed to the Housing Trust Board. Janet Giles (UTLC secretary) was appointed to the Women's Advisory Board, and Les Birch (union official) to the Boundary Adjustment Facilitation Panel. Rosemary Clancy (ex-Labor candidate) was also appointed to the Boundary Adjustment Facilitation Panel.

The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: That's one of the ones he wants to get rid of.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Yes.

The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: That will be a short-lived appointment!

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am sure they will find another home. Judith Brine was appointed to chair the review of public housing, and Greg Mackie (ALP-backed city council¬lor) was appointed to the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust.

The Hon. Diana Laidlaw: And the State Library.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: My colleague says the State Library as well. Angus Storey (an ex-AEU officer) was appointed Chief of Staff to minister Steph Key, and Cathy King (the daughter of former Labor minister Len King) as Chief of Staff to Patrick Conlon.

The Hon. Diana Laidlaw: What about Carolyn Pickles to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: And, evidently, Carolyn Pickles to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. I am sure that is an appointment you would have been very supportive of, Mr President, as you nod wisely and sagely. The essential point I made in the January release was that the Rann government had tried to be clever in relation to appointments, strategically announcing the appointment of one or two key former Liberal members of parliament. Those appointments have attracted publicity amongst the journalists—that the new government was appointing people (in an open, honest and accountable way) on the basis of merit because it had appointed one or two key former Liberal members of parliament.

The point that I made in January, and I seek to elaborate on it again today, is that, a bit like the duck swimming across the pond, what you see above the surface is quite different to what is going on underneath the water. Underneath the water, a series of appointments ought to attract public discussion and debate. When this motion was first moved, I raised significant concern about statements that the Treasurer and the leader of the Treasurer's faction, Don Farrell, had been making about the political connections of the two new deputy under treasurers. I await a response to some of those questions from the Treasurer, either in the other place or via the minister in this place.

In January, I issued an open invitation. To be fair, any member of the public (or caucus, for that matter) with similar concerns, with information on the Labor connections of any Rann appointment, was invited to contact me at Parliament House on my telephone number. I am indebted to the occasional member of the public who contacted me but, more importantly, I am indebted to some members of the Labor Party caucus who have also done so—not by telephone but by furtive whisper in the corridors of Parliament House.

The PRESIDENT: Which is harder to prove!

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Which is always harder to prove and cannot be traced. People feel much safer when they have a furtive whisper in relation to these issues, evidently, in the corridors of Parliament House.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I did know to whom I was talking at the time. To be fair, members of the faction associated with that member of parliament who does not pay his bills, the member for West Torrens—

The PRESIDENT: Order! I have raised this matter with the Leader of the Opposition before. He will not make offensive remarks about members of Her Majesty's parliament.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I will not, Mr President. I am stating a fact—not that he will not pay his bills but that he did not meet—

The PRESIDENT: It is an offensive remark. If the Leader of the Opposition continues, he will have to sit down, and he will be barred from continuing his contribution.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: Mr President, I will be happy to have that discussion with you at the appropriate time. A statement of fact is a statement of fact, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The member is defying the chair, and it is offensive. He is making offensive remarks. I ask the member to desist, or I will sit him down.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I will not continue with that statement, Mr President, but I will have that discussion with you on another occasion. Members of that faction within the Labor Party have provided information about a series of Labor appointments that have been conducted by the faction associated with the member for Elder (minister Conlon) within the Australian Labor Party. I will be open, account¬able and honest about this: the information has come from people who are not favourably disposed towards the member for Elder or minister Conlon's faction within the Australian Labor Party. However, alternatively, if minister Conlon's faction wants to provide the opposition with information, we would be happy to receive that, too.

I was advised to keep an eye on a number of appointments that were being made in ministerial offices and members' offices associated with minister Conlon's faction. I am sure that you will be aware, Mr President, that members of minister Conlon's left faction, who are key movers and shakers within the Labor Party, are, obviously, minister Conlon himself; minister Key; minister Weatherill; the member for Colton, Mr Caica; and, of course, Nick Bolkus, who is a federal senator.

When one looks at the appointments that have been made, I refer, first, to the Ministerial Code of Conduct, which was issued in May 2002. On page 10, under the heading `Employment of Relatives', it states:

"Ministers should not appoint close business associates or relatives to positions in their own offices. A minister's spouse, domestic partner and/or children should not be appointed to any position in an agency within the minister's own portfolio, unless the appointment is first approved by the Premier or cabinet. Ministers should not exercise the influence obtained from their public office, or use official information to gain any improper benefit for themselves or another."

On the surface, I am sure that all who have read the Ministerial Code of Conduct would say that they are admirable requirements to be placed upon ministers and that ministers would be operating in accordance with not only the requirements of that provision but also the spirit of that ministerial code.

The Hon. A.J. Redford interjecting:

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: My colleague the Hon. Mr Redford, with his very sensitive nose for these sorts of issues, says, `Don't tell me they found a way around it.' I want to outline how the Conlon left faction in the Labor Party has managed to find its way around the provision regarding employment of relatives, domestic partners and so on.

The Hon. A.J. Redford: Isn't he Minister for Police?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I will refer to that in a minute. A member of the right faction within the Labor Party advised me to keep a close eye on appointments in minister Key's office and also on the additions to the electoral roll at minister Conlon's address. I will not give his address, but it referred to minister Conlon's residential address in his electorate of Elder. In I think the March electoral roll update—not in January or February but in the March electoral roll update—at the same address as Mr Patrick Frederick Conlon's electoral roll address in his electorate was listed the name of another person, Tania Louise Drewer.

When I then did a search of the ministerial appointments I noted that a Tania Drewer had been appointed by minister Key at about the end of last year or the start of this year as a personal assistant to the Chief of Staff to minister Steph Key. With respect to the appointment I was further advised that there had been discussions between minister Conlon and/or his staff with Mr Angus Storey who is the Chief of Staff of minister Steph Key and who then met with Tania Drewer and proceeded to appoint Tania Drewer to the position of personal assistant to the Chief of Staff in that office. I am not sure; we are still pursuing the payment classification levels, but a number of personal assistants to chiefs of staff in other ministers' offices have positions paid at about the level of the low $40 000s.

I was also advised that, again within the Conlon left faction, the member for Colton had employed minister Conlon's sister as his personal assistant. The sister of Minister Conlon or the member for Elder had been appointed by the member for Colton, another member of the faction, as his personal assistant. Again, we know that the classification of positions at that level is somewhere between $42 000 and $47 000 unless they have been upgraded to the second classification, which is in the low $50 000s. We are also aware that minister Conlon employs as his ministerial adviser Melissa Bailey, who is the wife of another member of the Conlon left faction, Jay Weatherill. Again, if one looks at the ministerial adviser positions, most are paid in the region of $70 000-plus in those areas. There is more: I am told that minister Weatherill, a member of the Conlon left faction, also appointed Mary Patetsos to the Local Government Grants Commission, and Mary Patetsos is the wife of another senior Conlon left faction member, Senator Nick Bolkus.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: These are your appointments. If you think they are grubby, these are your appointments. What we have here is supposedly a requirement in the ministerial code of conduct that relatives of ministers should not be appointed to their own offices. We are also advised that ministers' spouses, domestic partners or children should not be appointed to positions in agencies. So, what the Conlon left faction has managed to do is a sophisticated form of ensuring that relatives of Conlon faction members are being appointed to other ministers' offices or key faction members' offices in highly paid positions at $40 000 to $70 000. This is the sort of—

The Hon. P. Holloway interjecting:

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: On the employment of relatives Premier Rann does not talk about merit or experience. The code of conduct requires you—

The Hon. P. Holloway: And we have done it!

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: We are just explaining how you get around it; you do not employ your partner or your wife in your own office: you say to your faction mate, `You employ my wife or domestic partner.' That is how you get around it within the Conlon left faction of the Labor Party. This is the sort of unseemly behaviour—

The PRESIDENT: Order! There is some unseemly behaviour—

The Hon. R.K. Sneath interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Mr Sneath is just adding to the confusion. The Leader of the Opposition has the floor. He should be heard in silence.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: This is a perfect example of the Conlon left faction keeping everything in the family as a job network agency nest. If you belong to the Conlon left faction and are a family member you can be looked after very well with significant appointments within these offices. Clearly, the spirit of the ministerial code of conduct in relation to the appointment of relatives and domestic partners of ministers is not being observed by minister Conlon and his faction. What we are seeing from the Conlon left faction is rampant nepotism and jobs for the boys and girls within ministers' offices and via other appointment processes they have had available to them.

Sadly for this state, the centre of the political stench in relation to this nepotism is the pink face of the member for Elder, minister Conlon and his faction. Sadly for the people of South Australia, we have seen the spirit of the ministerial code of conduct being subverted by this faction. In the interests of even-handedness, as late breaking news I was provided with information about the appointment to a ministerial office of a close personal friend of the member for West Torrens, but I need to conduct further investigations on these issues. One can sometimes be set up with inaccurate information. Members of the Conlon left faction provided that information to me in the interests of evening matters up, and until I have been able to confirm that with someone other than a member of the Conlon left faction—because I do not necessarily believe everything I am told by members of the Conlon left faction—I will not place on record the detail of that story. People have very significant concerns about the appointment processes of the Rann government. It has set itself up as being ostensibly open, honest and transparent and making merit based appointments, but beneath the surface we see the political stench of nepotism and jobs for the boys and girls. I seek leave to conclude my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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