Sunday, February 03, 2008

Smell of Corruption Hovers Over Marathon

This blog has previously suggested, in relation to former Federal Labor Minister Chris Schacht’s lobbying on behalf of Arkaroola ruiner Marathon Resources, that this State urgently needs to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Similar Commissions exist in most other states.

In Queensland the body goes by the name of the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).

And guess what?

This body has Marathon joint majority shareholder, Ken Talbot, up on corruption charges!

Talbot is on “voluntary leave of absence” from his parent company, Macarthur Coal, while the Queensland CMC pursues him in the courts over charges that he paid a Queensland state Labor Minister, Gordon Nuttall, $300,000 between 2001 and 2004.

Nuttall received the first of the payments just one day before the Queensland Treasury signed off on a $28.7 million “assistance package” allowing the company to develop a road and rail corridor to enable the expansion of its Coppabella coal mine.

Nuttall knew very well the character of the man from whom he was receiving his one percent commission payments.

As a then-opposition backbencher in 1998 he referred to Talbot’s “questionable character” as a businessman with links to a corrupt former government in the “days of deals done in brown paper bags”.

It appears that Nuttall was happier with cheques being sent in plain envelopes.

Talbot’s shares in Marathon have resulted in the current Marathon Board having two Talbot men on board (excuse the pun!).

Dennis Wood was appointed a non-executive director on 29 November 2006. He is described on the Marathon website as having been “responsible for the successful development and operation of the Coppabella Coal project in Queensland…”

Wood was joined on 22 January 2008 by W. Ian McRae, about whom the Marathon website says: “Ian also served as Senior Site Executive for Macarthur Coal Limited at its Coppabella project.”

So, in addition to questions about Chris Schacht and his connections on Marathon’s behalf to senior state and Federal ALP policy makers, we now need to know just what expertise Wood and McRae really bring to the Marathon fiasco, given that both were senior Talbot people in the very project that has led to him appearing in court on corruption charges.

Rann must establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption in South Australia, and he needs to do it now, before any further despoliation occurs at Arkaroola.


John said...

I agree. There must be an inquiry, full and open. Stop damaging the sanctuary - stop the drilling.

annie said...

How much money has been paid to get an anti nuclear supporter of the early 1980s to turn to a pro uranium premier in the 2000s?