Month: August 2013

Ian MacDonald and Lee Rhiannon: How many (Australian) Green(s) Miners are there?

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.
Senators Christine Milne and Lee Rhiannon - Photo from the launch of the Greens bill to increase overseas aid in Canberra on 7 May 2013, Courtesy of the Australian Greens.
Senators Christine Milne and Lee Rhiannon – Photo from the launch of the Greens bill to increase overseas aid in Canberra on 7 May 2013, Courtesy of the Australian Greens.

As an interesting sidenote to the scandals surrounding former NSW Agriculture and Natural Resources Minister Ian MacDonald and the mining industry, during the research for my previous article I came across the NSW Greens’ voting record for the Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area Bill of 2005. As well as this, I also came across Senator Lee Rhiannon’s commentary about the Shenhua Watermark and BHP mines near the townships of Breeza and Caroona on the Liverpool Plains, both of which are situated on Zone 4 (Mining Specific) former State Forests within the Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area.

Senator Rhiannon stated:

Working closely with the right and left factions of his party, Mr Macdonald was involved in a range of activities which need close examination. It seems clear that Mr Macdonald played a role in bringing the financial muscle of the mining industry to the cabinet table. While the former Labor Party member is becoming known far beyond New South Wales borders for alleged corrupt allocation of mining leases, it was not just a favoured section of the big end of town that benefited from Mr Macdonald’s largesse. The New South Wales government also picked up mining money in unusual ways. BHP Billiton paid $125 million for an exploration licence on the rich black soil of Caroona on the Liverpool Plains and China Shenhua paid $300 million to operate in neighbouring Watermark.

Prior to these payments, the highest fee for an exploration licence my office could find was $10 million. Why the sudden increase? What long lunches were held to smooth out these deals? What promises did the former minister make in return for this money being paid to the New South Wales government? Mr Macdonald’s role as architect of this new engagement with the mining industry warrants a close examination. These funding streams would have made him popular in cabinet and may help explain why for so long Labor headquarters stood by him and why he was kept on as minister. Meanwhile there was growing community concern with his activities.

This is in contrast to Senator Rhiannon’s comments about the mining activities in such areas in 2005, during the Second Reading of the Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area Bill in the NSW Legislative Council.

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If Rudd is serious about cleaning up NSW Labor, then Albanese and Cameron need addressing….

By Kate Doak.
By Kate Doak.

Early on Sunday morning on the ABC’s Insiders program, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the following statement to Barrie Cassidy in response to a question on the health of the Australian Labor Party and the current election campaign:

Thirdly, I think we also saw something wrong happening in the Labor Party. We’ve seen of course the report of ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) in New South Wales. So the actions we have taken there, mine, to reform the leadership structure of the Labor Party so there is a new system for electing the leader but also to authorise federal intervention in the New South Wales branch.

Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 11.44.26 AM
Deputy Prime Minister Albanese and Prime Minister Rudd. Sydney, 26th August 2013, Courtesy of ABC News24 – Photo via Screenshot.

Now Mr Rudd has made this statement on a couple of occasions since he regained the Prime Ministership, which begs the question as to why he’s failed to address his own Pecuniary Interest issues, as well as why he has allied himself with two of Ian MacDonald’s key state and federal allies throughout the 2000’s. Namely the Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and former AMWU National Secretary, NSW Senator Doug Cameron.

Now it’s an open secret that Cameron and Albanese have been long-term members of the “Hard Left” MacDonald camp, which also included others such as Albanese’s wife Carmel Tebbutt, Verity Firth and Linda Burney. From supporting efforts to keep MacDonald in politics in 2006 through to openly supporting mining related bills that MacDonald successfully pushed through the NSW Parliament in 2005, something stinky has undoubtedly been going in certain circles of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party since well before the alleged events and activities that prompted ICAC’s inquiry into Ian MacDonald and Eddie Obeid occured. Needless to say, for the health of the Australian Labor Party and Australian democracy in general, this period of NSW politics needs analysing in detail.

Take for example the following exchange that took place in the NSW Legislative Council during the passage of the Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Area Bill of 2005, just a few weeks before Bob Carr resigned from the Premiership of New South Wales:

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (ALP): The Opposition has tried to score political points with regard to the comments made by Craig Emerson, the Australian Labor Party member for the Federal Queensland seat of Rankin, who has made several ill-informed comments about the Government’s decision. Dr Emerson claims to have intimate knowledge of the region because he lived in Baradine as a young man, having left there 35 years ago. Clearly, he knows little of what has been happening in the intervening period; otherwise he would not make his illogical intervention in this debate. For the record, the official position of the Federal Opposition was stated on 5 May by the shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Anthony Albanese. He made it clear that Craig Emerson’s comments were not only irrelevant but stupid.

The Hon. Duncan Gay (Nationals): What would Albanese know about it?

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD (ALP): Anthony Albanese is a very good member of Parliament. He congratulated the Premier “on his comprehensive plan to protect 348,000 hectares of woodland stretching from Dubbo to the Queensland border”. Mr Albanese said also that the Government “has shown that with vision and conviction, long term environmental goals can be achieved without jeopardising the job security of timber communities”. I would believe Anthony Albanese any day over Dr Emerson, this interloper from Queensland.

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