Grocon claim, Latham, turncoats and future forum
July 16, 2008
Here are Stephen Mayne's four stories from the Crikey edition on Monday, February 13, 2006.
2. Legal war looming: Grocon v Melbourne establishment
By Stephen Mayne
When some friends gathered for a barbecue just outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday, the hot news was that construction giant Grocon is apparently heading to the courts over huge cost blowouts at what will be arguably the finest stadium in the world.
After being rebuffed by the MCG Trust, chaired by investment banker John Wylie, Grocon are believed to be working up a legal claim for about $100 million which will be lodged in the courts before the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on 15 March.
Anyone who has inspected the new facility has been blown away by the quality – but that has clearly come at a hefty price. Grocon have apparently stuck to their commitment to deliver the MCG for the Commonwealth Games, but costs have progressively blown out due to all sorts of expensive additional specifications and, of course, Victoria's infamously militant construction unions.
Rather than downing tools, as Multiplex notoriously did on Melbourne's Federation Square project, Grocon trusted the MCC, MCG Trust and Bracks Government and simply kept on building. Alas, when it came to footing the bill, they've been rebuffed and the word on the street is that an almighty legal battle is about to hit the headlines.
John Wylie has had an interesting time lately. He's been publicly criticised as the man who drove the ill-fated hostile takeover bid for Patrick Corp by his client, Toll Holdings, and he has also been called in by Telstra to try and fix up relations with the Federal Government after the Phil Burgess fiasco about not recommending the stock to his mother.
The court battle over the new stadium will generate headlines throughout the cricketing world and the Commonwealth and Wylie will be required to step up and defend his hard-ball tactics, although he is presumably backed by the government.
The MCC is the pillar of the Melbourne establishment and they will have a tough time at the next AGM in August because a $100 million claim clearly threatens their $188.57 million in net assets, as you can see here.
Maybe they'll have to slug their 80,100 members. If there's a revolt, they can simply soak up the 190,000-strong waiting list for the world's biggest sporting organisation. That'll shrink the 12-year waiting list pretty quickly and maintain the finances which delivered a profit of $72.16 million in 2004-05 on revenue of $133 million.
There is a government guarantee on the stadium, so it will be interesting to see if the Bracks Government will bail out Melbourne's most conservative institution. Hmmm, more Commonwealth Games blowout stories is not what Labor wants to hear in an election year. This saga has clearly got it all, and the legal and sporting games haven't even begun yet.
7. Latham charges – is there a media-coppers conspiracy?
By Stephen Mayne
Mark Latham has twice faced legal repercussions over violent incidents and on both occasions he has alleged a conspiracy between the media and the police. This is what appeared in The Latham Diaries over the incident with Sydney taxi driver Bachir Mustafa:
Saturday, 20 October, 2001
The set-up of the century. I hadn't heard from the Bankstown coppers for months about the Bone Collector. Then they called on Monday, saying they needed to interview me urgently. I said they had to be kidding, it's the middle of a federal election campaign and anyway, why was it urgent when I hadn't heard anything since July? Turns out the bloke doing the report on the incident took a seven-week holiday in Greece.
I tried to fob them off until after the election but they kept on calling. Eventually, I agreed to see them at Bankstown Police Station last night, with an assurance that there would be no media involved at any stage. Stupid me. At eight o'clock this morning, Oliver in my arms, I answered the front door: it was a reporter from the Sun-Herald barking out questions, less than 12 hours after I left the cop shop. The abuse of police power – it's endemic.
And the only thing that changed between Friday 13 July and now? I wrote a Tele column with follow-up radio interviews in late July critical of Peter Ryan and his police force.
That's a pretty strong argument. Then we had the following from Latham last Thursday in Crikey about the incident with the photographer:
For 12 months I repeatedly asked the media to respect our rights and privacy. I also asked the Campbelltown police to protect our rights under the law, all to no avail. The old sweetheart deal between the media and the coppers in the country still applies.
Naturally, this wasn't properly reported in the Murdoch press although Herald Sun columnist John Ferguson produced the following today: "He (Latham) was quoted as saying last week that he had asked local police for help to protect his privacy, apparently then alleging some sort of conspiracy between the media and the constabulary."
Apparently? He actually said it, John, and the facts on the taxi driver incident do look dodgy. Ferguson is a Murdoch loyalist to the last and naturally claimed the Tele "was operating well within its rights when it tried last month to document Latham's life a year after he had quit politics".
The Murdoch press is certainly whooping it up over the Latham charges. Glenn Milne today made the ridiculous claim that "Latham's biggest challenge right now is staying out of jail".
As Christian Kerr reported last week, Tele editor David Penberthy was apparently very keen to see Latham charged. So what leverage did he have over the coppers? Well, there is the small matter of the performance of the cops over the Cronulla riots and the subsequent revenge attacks.
The NSW Labor Government also has no interest in protecting Latham and is probably quite happy to see their force lay the charges.
As we've pointed out before, Latham was very brave to launch an attack on the media, particularly given the savagery of the attacks against the broader Murdoch empire. He was also very brave to launch into the Labor Party. Given this, it was alway imperative that he keep his nose clean, because both groups would leap at any opportunity to exact some revenge and that is exactly what is happening now.
There will he a huge press pack at Campbelltown Local Court on 22 March and the jackals will be hoping the local beak allows them to label Latham a "convicted criminal".
16. Another 14 political turncoats
By Stephen Mayne
By jingo, Julian McGauran is certainly not alone. Our burgeoning list of political turncoats is approaching 50 once these 14 new names are added:
Terry Cameron: former ALP SA secretary and federal executive member (and son of Senator Don Cameron and nephew of Clyde), was elected to the SA Legislative Council on the ALP ticket but quit the party and with another ALP defector, Trevor Crothers, voted for the Liberal bill to privatise the Electricity Trust of South Australia.
Paddy Embry: WA One Nation MLC formed the New Country Party in 2003.
Kris Hanna: the former ALP member in South Australia defected to the Greens four years ago and will now stand as an independent at the state election on 18 March.
Dianne Hadden: Legislative Councillor from Ballarat, quit the ALP last year in protest against the Bracks government's treatment of regional Victoria.
Ray Hopper: Qld Nationals MP for Darling Downs first elected as an independent in 2001.
Frank Hough: WA One Nation MLC and gun nut joined the New Country Party in 2003.
Joh Kingston: One Nation class of '98 Queensland MP became an independent in 1999.
John Knuth: Brother of current Nationals state MP another one of the class of 98, bailing on One Nation to become an independent in 1999.
Rod McKenzie: Quit the ALP while President of the Legislative Council in 1987, after voting with the Opposition to block upper house reform.
Sean Nelson: Queensland MP (1998 2001) for Tablelands hit the road from One Nation in 1999 to become an independent. The then 26-year-old buffoon was suspended from parliament in 1998 for pouring milk on the steps of parliament to protest dairy industry deregulation. Scored just 14% when standing as an independent for re-election.
David Oldfield: Pauline's righthand man and One Nation NSW founder now an independent MLC until his eight year term expires in 2007 and he gets his pension.
Dolly Pratt: MP for Joh's old seat of Nanango, Ex Deputy Queensland One Nation leader became an independent in 1999.
Elsia Roberts: Ex One Nation MP for Gympie jumped ship in 2002 to become an independent and famously cried in Parliament over the death of her poodle, Popsicle.
Dr Peter Wong: Independent NSW MLC elected in 1999 as part of the defunct Unity Party.
18. How delegates voted at the Future Directions Forum
By Stephen Mayne
The Australian Future Directions Forum hasn't generated an avalanche of mainstream press coverage, which probably reflects public and media apathy towards the question of resolving Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, something the group of 90 "future leaders" concluded should be the nation's number one priority over the next 15 years.
Whilst the broad "Left" did have a slight numerical advantage at the forum, the decision to go out on a limb on Indigenous disadvantage was driven on the floor of the final plenary session by an unlikely coalition of three from the "right."
However, the strong across-the-board support for that decision is again borne out by these survey results. The public can read the recommendations of the 11 working groups here (after the five page "vision statement" that was worked up by about ten delegates over two days) and then compare them with the survey results in which delegates could indicate their level of support.
Clearly, the Creative Industries statement received the least support and our statement on Leadership and Governance was the most popular, although it's also probably an area that lends itself to broad support. However, the Indigenous Statement wasn't far behind, so it will be interesting to see if the group follows up on its call to meet with Mal Brough, the new possibly Indigenous Indigenous Affairs Minister, to try and get some new momentum to tackle what is clearly Australia's greatest failing as a nation.
||Support, with reservations
- Australia's Creative Industries
- Foreign Policy and Regional Engagement
- Indigenous Statement
- Leadership and Governance
- National Values and Identity
- Society - Communities - Social Cohesion
- Work and Families
Copyright © 2011 The Mayne Report. All rights reserved