“Power flows to the most boring man in the room” – Bob Ellis
The Palusczszuk Labor government is no stranger to making political appointments. It put the president of the Queensland Council of Unions and Labor Party official, John Battams, on the board of Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC). Previous Labor governments have made similar political appointments; for example former Labor Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Jim Soorley, was appointed to Unity Water, CS Energy – a state-owned electricity generator and Local Govt Association of QLD and AEGIS enterprise, Propel. Former Deputy Premier, Paul Lucas has become the Chair of Cross River Rail Delivery Authority and Former Labor Senator John Hogg has been appointed Director of Far North Queensland Ports Corporation by current Ministers Jackie Trad, Mark Bailey and Anthony Lynham.
Jim Soorley’s has been re-appointed as Chair of Unity Water which is a retail company supplying water and sewerage to residents of Moreton Bay Regional Council, Noosa, and Sunshine Coast Councils.
“Unitywater has delivered savage increases in the price of water since its formation in 2010. In its 2010-11 report, Unitywater defensively stated its public complaints were running at fewer than 10 in a thousand. Suffice to say, in Moreton Bay Region, Unitywater is about as popular as Lady Macbeth on Mother’s Day.” – ‘MAAATE! Bribe-proofing the public purse against good blokes’ by Bernie Dowling.
Unity Water receives $$millions in cash contributions from developers.
On 27 September 2018 the Qld labor government appointed former ALP Member for Ipswich, David Hamill, as SEQ Water chairman. SEQ Water manages S-E Qld dams and other infrastructure that supplies water to 3 million people. Hamill is a director of infrastructure transnational, Brookfield Business Partners, that owns shares in Nuclear Energy companies in Canada. Hamill was chairman of the Board of Directors of Prime Infrastructure, whose parent company Babcock & Brown Infrastructure Limited was declared insolvent in 2009. Prime was bought by Brookfield after Babcock went under. Babcock was a dodgy, high-risk infrastructure company that specialised in tax avoidance.
“Joining forces with established partners at Brookfield Infrastructure enables us to continue to participate in the returns from our current investments, within a larger, more diversified portfolio of high quality infrastructure assets,” said Hon. Dr. David Hamill – News Release on merger of Prime with Brookfield.
David Hamill as Treasurer in the Beattie and Bligh Labor governments sold the Suncorp/Metway bank and corporatised Queensland Rail in preparation for its later sell-off by the Bligh Labor government. Anna Bligh is now CEO of Australian Bankers’ Association. The Labor government sold off Queensland Rail at a time when its revenue could have helped the state’s finances. And Hamill was supposed to be in the Left faction!?
Electrical Trades Union (ETU) billboard in Highgate Hill after Labor Premier Anna Bligh announced sale of Queensland Rail
“In 2007 Queensland Investment Corporation had invested $27 billion in financial markets to fund ‘future employee and other obligations’. The government expected a return of the 7% but due to the financial crisis instead received 2% – this produced a deficit of $995 million.”- Workers Audit.
Hamill was the Queensland Treasurer during the introduction of the New Tax System in 2000. The GST is a regressive tax that takes $30 billion from consumers nationally and is distributed to the States by the Commonwealth. Interestingly, after he retired from the parliament, Hamill wrote a PhD thesis critical of the New Tax system saying it represented a move towards centralism. Since the 1980s Qld Treasury had introduced risk management in decision-making (Harvard Business School). The government re-structured the Health Department leading to a crisis lasting a decade under successive governments (the payroll scandal, doctors dispute, loss of elective surgery).
Wivenhoe Dam above Brisbane built in the 1980s for flood mitigation as a response to the 1974 floods that killed 13 people and destroyed homes, schools and buildings. Photo: The Australian
As Transport Minister Hamill oversaw the closure of railway lines and cut half of Qld Rail’s jobs down from 26,000 workers and introduced contract labour in Government Owned Corporations (GOCs). After the sale of Queensland Rail by the Bligh Labor government, the sale of the Ports, Suncorp, and the motorways, there are few public assets for government to sell. An economic malaise has hit the State, jobs lost and wages stagnated. Is Labor in the process of selling our water and associated assets valued at approx $11 billion. It is unclear to me how such a value can be arrived at because it is very difficult to estimate the depreciation on such assets.
Since 2017 former Labor Mayor of Ipswich, Paul Pisasale (pictured), has become a household word for dodgy electioneering and nepotism.
How Labor Governs
Each of the three board chairmen, Jim Soorley (Unity Water), John Battams (QIC) and David Hamill (SEQ Water) are architects of a failed paradigm embraced by Labor. Dayboro solicitor Robert Garvey said in 2014 that “Unitywater was best understood by the legislation which established it.”
“I agree Unitywater is not owned by the councils. It is designed to be ‘independent’,” Mr Garvey said. “Councillors can appoint themselves to the board.’’ However, the solicitor had a cynical view of how the “unowned” Unitywater came into being. “Not I” says Moreton Bay Regional Council and State Government – but local expert may have the answer. Labor’s appointment of Soorley as chair of CS Energy makes the former Lord Mayor a coal baron of sorts as CS owns three coal fired power stations – Kogan, Callide, and Gladstone [See ‘Who owns Unitywater?’ by Bernie Dowling].
“To show he cannot get enough of being on the wrong side of energy history, Mr Soorley in 2017 joined the board of TerraCom, which bought the Blair Athol coal mine in Central Queensland.” [See ‘Maaate! Bribe Proofing the Public Purse’ by Bernie Dowling].
Privatisation, risky finance and climate change denial are the hallmarks of Labor in power in Queensland. After making decisions to expand the coal economy in Queensland [eg Adani] and flying in the face of climate change warnings by scientists, are these the kinds of appointments required by government?
Perhaps, when his 3-year term as chairman of SEQ Water is up, David Hamill can retire to write a major doctoral thesis to revisit the words ALP founding father W.G.Spence in 1916: “Parliament may be a cumbersome machine, but it moves just as fast as the people make it, sometimes faster … syndicalists are the tools of the capitalists.” I do not think this AWU boss pointing the finger at the Wobblies can hide how Labor governs.
By making their own appointments to boards like Unitywater and SEQwater the Labor government is denying local people a say in the boards that supply essential services to their community. Under the guise of equal opportunity for women, the ALP government has denied people in regional Queensland their right to determine who runs this important resource at the local water board level. It is interesting that the Ministers did not appoint a woman to chair SEQ Water. They did appoint Penny Tovey as a director who was heavily involved in the ETU’s No Asset Sales campaign, handing out How-to-Vote cards for the ALP at Gold Coast elections.
2017 Hunter Valley Flood Mitigation – Photo: Chris Drummond
29 Sept 2018
“There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil” – Walter Lippmann
Featured Image: New chairman of SEQ Water, David Hamill. Photo: QT
Former MP handed new gig managing ‘critical resource’ – Qld. Times Former Member for Ipswich David Hamill will today be named as the chairman of a southeast entity.
How Labour Governs – A Study of Workers’ Representation in Australia – Vere Gordon Childe.