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Tim Fischer and his predecessor Charles Blunt have just quit a failing dotcom stock but you’d be surprised to see how many former pollies sit on the boards of listed companies.

Let’s check out the key aspects of the story and then look at a list we’ve assembled of listed companies that feature former politicians on their boards.

Fischer cuts ties to ailing company

By Eli Greenblat

Wednesday 17 January 2001

Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer and a senior National Party colleague quit the board of an Australian technology company just weeks before two of its subsidiaries were put into voluntary administration.

Mr Fischer and his predecessor as National Party leader, Charles Blunt, resigned as directors of the stock-exchange listed Maxis Corporation a few days before Christmas.

Yesterday, investors in Maxis Corp were left holding the bag as shares in the company crashed by more than 60 per cent, ending the day at 3.2 cents.

The sudden share price dive was prompted by news that Maxis Corp subsidiaries ABT Supplyline Pty Ltd (trading as Australian Business Technologies) and ARBT Pty Ltd (trading as Heartland Communications) had both been placed in the hands of the company doctors earlier yesterday.

Mr Blunt was chairman of Maxis Corp until he resigned from the board on December 22, along with Mr Fischer and another director, Colin Henson.

At the time of his departure, Mr Fischer said he had decided to step down to concentrate on his tourism and charity commitments.

Neither he nor Mr Blunt returned numerous telephone calls from The Age to their offices yesterday.

But a spokeswoman for Mr Fischer said he had resigned from the company last month and therefore had no comment.

It was only two months ago that Mr Blunt gave shareholders a glowing report on the progress of Heartland Communications, saying it was positioned to emerge as a leading provider of satellite telecommunications services in Australia and the region.

Mr Fischer boasted to the media last year that: “If we do it right, the back of Bourke will have better quality and less volume restrictions than some of the leafy suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.”

Both former National Party leaders joined the Maxis Corp board last year when the company, formerly called Capital Energy, bought private company Australian Business Technologies as part of a backdoor listing during the peak of the dot-com boom.

Mr Fischer drew flack when he joined the board of Australian Business Technologies, the then parent company of Heartland Communications, shortly after stepping down as minister for trade.

Heartland Communications specialised in the delivery of broadband telecommunications to regional and remote Australia using satellite and other wireless technology, and won a carrier’s licence from the Federal Government last year.

The subsidiary was brought to life in July following a high-profile ceremony that was witnessed by Australia’s Minister for Communi cations, Information Technology and the Arts, Richard Alston, and the Mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert.

Apart from a deal with Israeli company Gilat Satellite Networks, Heartland also had an agreement with Farmwide, the commercial arm of the National Farmers Federation, to set up a 250-user trial involving data services.

Maxis Corp company secretary and legal counsel Christopher Chapman told The Age Heartland would no longer be funded by the parent company and its assets would be liquidated. He said Australian Business Technologies would be sold and the funds raised returned to Maxis Corp.

Mr Chapman said he had not been in contact with Mr Fischer, but had spoken to Mr Blunt. He added that Mr Fischer had first indicated his intention to leave the company in October last year.

Joint voluntary administrators appointed to Australian Business Technologies and Heartland Communications, Steven Sherman and Peter Walker from Ferrier Hodgson, did not return calls from The Age.

ends

Not a bad yarn that. The boys have jumped from the sinking ship after thinking that their connections would give the company a leg up and turn them a fast buck. It poses the question as to what other boards our former politicians sit on and we’ve come with a list. If you can think of any others or any corrections we’d love to hear from you.

The ASX boards our former pollies sit on.

Doug Anthony, National Party federal leader, formerly on board of Normandy Mining

Neil Batt, Labor Tasmanian deputy premier, chairman Armstrong Jones (formerly Heine).

Charles Blunt, National Party Federal Leader, formerly Maxis Corporation.

Keith de lacey, Queensland Labor Treasurer, Reef Casino Trust

Tim Fischer, National Party Deputy PM, formerly Maxis Corporation.

Malcolm Fraser, Liberal PM, Redflex (just resigned)

Wayne Goss, Queensland Labor Premier, Peplin Biotech

Nick Greiner, NSW Lib Premier, BMC Media, QBE, Brian McGuigan Wines, BAT Industries.

Don Hayward, Liberal Education Minister, Abigroup.

Bob Hawke, Labor PM, Quantum Resources, Autogen.

Dr John Hewson, Lib Federal Leader, CBD Online, deputy chairman Ticor Ltd

Tony Hyams, Lib member for Dromana, Australian Infrastructure Group

Jeff Kennett, Liberal Victorian Premier, Sofcom, National Telecoms Group

Peter Nixon, National Party Fed Minister, formerly Southern Cross Broadcasting and Budget.

Susan Ryan, Federal Labor Education Minister, NRMA.

Barry Unsworth, NSW Labor Premier, NSW TAB, Tempo Services.

Kerry Sibraa, Federal Labor Senate President, Zimplats.

Alan Stockdale, Victorian Liberal Treasurer, Axon Instruments, Sylex Holdings.

Robert Webster, NSW Liberal Planning Minister, MMI, Mirvan Property Trust, Rothmans

Neville Wran, NSW Labor Premier, Cabcharge, Powerlan, Abigroup.

Peter Fray

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