Don Randall has become a minor celebrity for his attack on Cheryl Kernot in Parliament a few years back, but Lisa Liberal reports that the man in question has more than a few question marks hanging over his own behaviour.

Don Randall, then the Liberal member for the Western Australian federal seat of Swan launched his bitter attack upon Kernot because she was planning to visit the electorate of Swan in her capacity as a Shadow Minister. His premeditated outburst in the parliament was intended as a pre-emptive strike.

Randall’s speech, previously reported on Crikey, was by any measure a crude and grubby attack that matched anything that has been heard in the federal parliament in recent times.

Randall’s reference in his speech to Kernot having “the morals of an ally cat on heat” received wide adverse coverage in Western Australia and disgusted many Liberals, to the extent that the Prime Minister’s office instructed Randall to apologise when parliament next sat.

Following Oakes’ and Crikey’s disclosures of Kernot’s “big secret”, Howard’s office immediately instructed Randall not to gloat and what to say to the media, however he has not been able to restrain himself and has revelled in the notoriety the incidental part he played in the affair has brought him.

Liberals in Western Australia put Randall’s behaviour in attacking Kernot in the parliament and his subsequent conduct down to his bad taste and bad political judgment, however with his history it surprised many that he would stick his neck out.

Randall’s own entry into the federal parliament was not without controversy. He misled his Liberal Party preselection delegates by failing to disclose on his nomination form that he had a police record. The form particularly required that the applicant provide details of any police convictions.

Randall’s preselection was strongly opposed by a number of senior people in the Party including Wilson Tuckey who was supporting a popular local vet, Brian Hilbert who had contested the previous election as the endorsed Liberal candidate for Swan. In spite of being unsuccessful, Hilbert was regarded as having run an excellent campaign.

Hilbert had the support of the majority of the Branch delegates at the next election however notorious Liberal powerbroker Noel Crichton-Browne, in typical poor form, delivered Randall the State Council votes which got him over the line. Crichton-Browne now claims that he supported Randall at the request of his mate, the ex-State Minister, Doug “finance broking scandal” Shave. Whatever the case, it resulted in Randall winning the preselection.

Randall’s campaign was not without further controversy. He held a campaign fund raising barbecue at his home on behalf of the Belmont Liberal Party Branch of which he was the President. A number of people paid by cheque and a senior State member of parliament was amazed to find that his cheque had not been paid into the Branch’s bank account. It had been cashed along with others, by Randall at a sports store on the other side of the metropolitan area.

Randall’s opponents threatened to have the matter referred to the police. Randall’s explanation was that the Branch did not have a bank account and that he paid for the various costs of the function by cash and that he did not keep detailed book keeping records of the function. The matter was not further investigated by the Liberal Party.

Just weeks before the 1998 polling day, Randall as the sitting member, in an act of political stupidity, publicly attacked One Nation claiming to not want their preferences. He was shocked to find himself at the bottom of their ticket and out of parliament. Randall later personally lobbied One Nation for their preferences in spite of the fact that federal Liberal members were not supposed to be talking to One Nation about preferences.

After losing the seat Randall badgered for a government job and complained loudly that he had not been given a job for the boys. He was finally put on the staff of Senator Ian Campbell who at the time was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications. Without any previous experience in the industry, Randall promptly had introductory cards printed on which he described himself to the public as a communications consultant.

Randall spent time on Campbell’s staff stacking out Liberal Party Branches including traveling into the country at taxpayers expense to sign up members and attend Annual General Meetings. Campbell openly bragged on election night of the amount and the cost of taxpayer resources that his office had provided to Randall in his successful contest for the seat of Canning.

Randall joined Campbell in helping dump Senator Winston Crane from the Senate ticket and in seeking to also get rid of Senator Ross Lightfoot from the Senate. Sources close to Campbell claim Randall has provided Crane with a statutory declaration which would be of great interest to Lightfoot and his wife, relating to the removal of documents from Crane’s office which were the cause of a police investigation into Crane’s charter travel.

At one time Randall acted as a political lobbyist. He has bragged that ‘West Australian’ newspaper journalist, Tony Barrass is his man at that paper and has made claims about what that means. No doubt Barrass knows nothing of Randall’s claims although it is no secret amongst Randall’s colleagues that Randall is Barrass’s political ‘contact’.

It seems that Randall has still not got the lobbying out of his system. Recently he organised and attended lunch with ex-Western Australian Labor Premier Brian Burke to lobby Burke for work from the State Labor government for a road contractor mate of his.

What business Randall has got as a federal member of parliament lobbying past and present State politicians for government work for his mates and what the politics of approaching Labor figures are, raise interesting questions.

Early on in the last campaign Randall was stopped by a police booze bus and asked to blow into the bag however he refused the police request. He was subsequently charged and convicted for refusing a random breath test.

Randall failed to disclose to his electorate that he had been charged and convicted for this offence and it only became public when he was spotted applying for a new drivers licence. We can only speculate as to why Randall refused to obey a lawful instruction by a member of the Western Australian Police force.

It says a lot about his attitude towards law and order and honest disclosure to his voters.

Randall has been seen during what are normal working hours for most people, at various pubs and restaurants around Perth tired and emotional. Having lost one seat, the betting is on as to how long he will hold his present seat.


Feedback: but wait, there’s more

It gets better.

Before Randall was officially on “staff” Campbell paid him out of his contingency allowance. What I here is that for months Randall whilst on the taxpayer teat, did nothing but hang around around Campbell’s Perth office reading the newspapers and planning his comeback. Nice work if you can get it.

Meanwhile Campbell was running a branch-stacking campaign out of his office called “20 in 2000.”

All what we would expect from Campbell, an NCB protege and one who considers Paul Keating and Newt Gingrich worthy political role models. Campbell now considers himself a Costello supporter after having been repeatedly overlooked by the PM for a ministerial spot.

The world is full of strange but true ironies.

Name withheld

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey