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Email sent 31/7/09

Andrew Fraser and Sean Parnell,
The Australian

More about Queensland Inc?

I should like to suggest some other dimensions related to your articles in today's Australian (which I have outlined below) concerning suspect government / business relationships in Queensland. Attention might also profitably be devoted to:

  • the process whereby the original SE Queensland regional plan was developed. This involved an announcement that in several months time many private land development options would be permanently closed off - a process which seemed to the present writer at the time to be either naive or designed to attract inducements. It can further be noted that: (a) the outcome of that process was a decision to focus SE Queensland's growth on the SW corridor directed towards Ipswich; and (b) suggestions have surfaced recently about suspect connections associated with both Labor figures and Ipswich business (see Bita N., Ipswich Inc at heart of Utegate, The Australian, 27/6/09);
  • the viability of the BrisConnections project (see Airport Link: An Example of the Monster). That project seemed to involve a potential $2.5bn funding black hole that was being filled by complex financial engineering that may not prove to be successful in the longer term;
  • the uncertain financial benefits that the Queensland Government will obtain from privatising assets as proposed in the recent state budget, and the process whereby it was advised to undertake such sales;
  • all cases in which those with close family or business connections with Queensland Government insiders have achieved successes in businesses that might have profited from favourable government decisions;
  • the current inability of Queensland's Public Service to act as an internal professionally-independent check on abuses of political power (see The Growing Case for a Professional Public Service).

John Craig

Summary of Articles

My interpretation of your articles:

Head of QIC (Trevor Rowe) was forced to resign as a result of increased concern about Labor mates. He had also been head of Enhance Management - which is centre of scandal about deals between former Labor ministers, staffers and government. Its manager (Ross Daley) had been forced to resign for accepting a secret $1m commission (for transferring $100m super funds from Sunsuper to Trinity group). Government was forced to refer to CMC allegations that former Treasurer (Terry Mackenroth) had improperly influenced land rezoning. Mr Rowe (who has many business connections) was appointed to QIC by Mackenroth. Mackenroth and a business partner (Con Sciacca) had earlier split a $0.5m success fee for delivering Brisconnections project to consortium headed by Rowe. [Fraser A. 'Another Labor Mate Goes', The Australian. 31/7/09].

Trevor Rowe had good connections with (and gained appointments from) all political parties. He was appointed to head QIC by former-treasurer-now-lobbyist Terry Mackenroth. Four incidents have put him into public domain: (a) chairmanship of Brisconnections (company building a tunnel in Brisbane) which was substantially funded by QIC; (b) chairmanship of Rothschild Australia which became one of several companies awarded contracts to advise state government on its $16 bn asset sale plan; (c) chairmanship of Careers Australia Group which was set up to enter training market and appointed former head of Queensland's Department of Employment and Training as its CEO - a step which CMC found had involved abuse of public service position; and (d) chairmanship of Enhance Management from which Ross Daley was forced to resign for securing secret commission related to transfer of $100m from Sunsuper to listed property group Trinity. Brisbane business seems to believe that Mr Rowe has an involvement in too many areas [Fraser A., Chairman with too much on agenda', The Australian, 31/7/09).

CMC is examining allegations that former Treasurer (Terry Mackenroth), now a lobbyist for property developers, helped secure land rezoning under new SEQ Regional Plan (which premier suggested reflected best available advice from senior government planners). Mackenroth had overseen development of first regional plan started work with developers soon after retiring in 2005 [Parnell S., Watchdog eyes ex-minister Mackenroth', 31/7/09)


Email forwarded later on 31/7/09

Andrew Fraser and Sean Parnell,
The Australian

Addendum to: More about Queensland Inc?

Another issue that could be added to this list involves the circumstances associated with charges of corruption that were levelled against a former Queensland Police Commissioner (Noel Newnham) which led to his dismissal, after he had: (a) apparently taken an interest in the role of organised crime in Queensland and (b) reportedly told a very senior minister under the Goss Government that another senior minister had been recorded by Federal Police accepting a bribe. Added to this could be the public comment by the first head of the Criminal Justice Commission (Max Bingham), when his term of appointment ended, about the apparent relationship between organised crime and a state government.


John Craig