Peter Duncan is the Duncan in Duncan Basheer, Hannon, the law firm suing Crikey on behalf Labor Senator Nick Bolkus, but after last week’s revelations they might be looking at a name change pretty soon.
Last week Crikey asked “What is Peter Duncan up to?”. We’d heard the former Hawke and Keating Minister, South Australian Attorney-General and – wait for it, wait for it – partner in the law firm that is suing Crikey on behalf of Labor Senator Nick Bolkus, was overseas enjoying Indonesia amidst claims he’d gone AWOL in the wake of a failed business venture owing creditors to his plastics business big money.
We’re not alone. Seven’s Today Tonight set out on their own search and destroy mission and will be broadcasting the results of their time in Jakarta this week.
Duncan had a meteoric career path in the seventies. In 1975, aged just 30, Don Dunstan made him his Attorney-General, charged with implementing much of his reform agenda.
There was a hiccough in 1984 when he went to Canberra – a popular local done over by the factions in a preselection blue won his old state seat in the by-election as an Independent Labor candidate, but things soon steadied and Duncan went on to serve as a Minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments.
Disaster struck in 1996 when he lost his safe seat of Makin to a fourth-rate Lib Trish Draper, so Duncan took up a controversial business career.
Despite his prominent role in Don-Baby’s bold experiment in democratic socialism, Duncan has always had a foot in the capitalists’ camp. Indeed, when he made the move to Canberra , Max Gilles described him as “a left wing property developer”.
His post-parliamentary ventures have certainly had more than a touch of the wheeler-dealer about them. Indeed, even before recent events Duncan could have been described as a “colourful” business figure.
His erstwhile bruvvers in the labour movement were not pleased when Duncan decided that staff for his restaurant venture, On the Square, would be on workplace agreements, rather than award rates.
His partners, supporters and colleagues – particularly former Adelaide Lord Mayor Henry Ninio – were even more upset when the venture fell over within weeks, even though the council kindly closed one of the nearby roads to help foot traffic.
It now appears that an even more colourful chapter in the life of the this former Minister for Corporate Affairs and Member of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Crime Authority is about to begin.
There are questions over who just paid for his travellers cheques for the trip to the Indonesia – former business parties, the missus, whoever – or if they knew. If – if – he has been light fingered with his wife’s money, then that’s a mistake. Julie Duncan taught a generation of local journos at the University of South Australia’s School of Journalism – and most are quite fond of their old lecturer and bound to give her a good run. They say she’s lovely.
PS Crikey hears that Today Tonight has caused some collateral damage in their trip to Indonesia. The reporter and cameraman staked out a hotel ready for Duncan only to spot another South Australia MLC (who campaigns hard against abuse of Parliamentary lurks and perks) with a young Asian girl in tow. Oh dear.
PPS. Interestingly, the Today Tonight journalist who has tracked Duncan down, Peter Makin, has had the odd unsuccessful business venture himself over the years. But make sure you tune in to see him do over Peter Duncan good and proper this week.
BEHIND THE PETER DUNCAN SCANDAL
Sealed Section July 16
And here’s a profile from the Channel 7 website of the journo (sans the business failures) who tracked Duncan down in Indonesia. Disappointingly, the yarn was held over yesterday after being heavily promoted in Adelaide over the weekend and will be broadcast some time this week:
“Paul Makin has been in the media for 40 years, starting off as a television cameraman in Sydney in the sixties. After moving to Adelaide in 1970, Paul worked for both Nine and Ten but soon realised his true role was in front of a camera so he studied to be a journalist.
In the mid-70s he travelled to Sydney with radio programming guru Paul Thompson and became involved with the transformation of Radio 2GB.
Soon after, he was behind the microphone with Radio 2UE working on the highly rated Nightwatch program and was the first news reporter on the scene of the Granville train disaster.
While Paul was working at 2UE Michael Willesee heard him and offered him a job with his new program called Willesee at 7.
After three years of what Paul calls a “huge learning curve”, he then hosted his first quiz show, out of TVW in Perth, called $50,000 Letterbox.
He then moved to Melbourne to host Newsbeat on 3UZ and star in a number of TV shows such as Cop Shop, Prisoner, Carson’s Law and Special Squad.
During this time he also made his feature film debut in Street Hero with Vince Colosimo.
Then it was back to Adelaide in 1986 to work on television and radio.
Currently Paul is hard at work as a reporter on Seven’s Today Tonight and is relishing the challenge.
Paul has a partner Marion and two grown-up children, Rebecca and Paul.”
Sealed Section July 17
Hillary Bray writes:
The Adelaide rumour mill says the South Australian MLC spotted in Jakarta by teevs staking out AWOL former state and federal minister Peter Duncan is none other than Terry Cameron, a former Labor state secretary who crossed the floor in 1998 to support electricity privatisation – and a loud critic of parliamentary perks who suffers from the strange delusion that MPs do no work on non-sitting days.
Gossip says he is safe on the first count. Sorta. The stories claim he was booked into the hotel under Duncan ‘s company name.
As for the second matter, well if Cameron was there, the details of his visit to Indonesia – such as just what was he doing with who – are being keenly awaited. We understand that Today Tonight will finally be putting their story to air tonight and trust they’ll give it the national treatment that it deserves. Afterall, Peter Duncan is a former Federal Minister and it is not often you exclusively capture such a person in a foreign country on the run from creditors.
PETER DUNCAN AND TODAY TONIGHT
By Gibbon Lane
North Adelaide correspondent
Sealed Section July 18
Well, the long-awaited Today Tonight expose finally hit the small screen last night with Jack (son of Don, legendary Rupert editor) announcing that 7 journalist Paul “Yapper” Makin had “tracked down former SA Attorney General and Federal Labor Minister in Indonesia where he is seeking government assistance for new deals”.
Jack stated that Dunc was swanning it up in Indonesia while his former employees had to borrow cash to live after his plastics recycling business OmniPol went belly-up.
Then, the only shot of Dunc!
On a Honda 90, helmet slung over the handlebars, wraparound sunnies, that would not look out of place at the Elizabeth Shopping Centre, but his hair! Gone are the premature grey locks that graced our screens in the 70’s and 80’s – replaced by a trendy auburn mane!
Yapper approached him on the Honda 90 with the question “Remember me? I want to ask you about the OmniPol employees!” Dunc’s only reply was “get out of my way” and with that Dunc tried to lay a doughnut while dodging the Lomboki hoards in the narrow lane.
Yapper then stated that OmniPol had received $1.5million in SA taxpayer’s money to establish their business.
He then interviewed Gerry Michard from the US who had been convinced by Dunc that the company would be able to fill containers with their poles made from old plastic bags. He’s still waiting for his poles.
The lovely wife Julie Duncan had allegedly booted him out of the family home and the company and moved to Tasmania to get away from it all.
OmniPol is allegedly now insolvent and yesterday the SA Supreme Court refused to declare the company in liquidation.
Well, back to Lombok.
Yapper revealed how he tracked down Dunc.
In a Jakarta hotel is the local office of SA Water, the privatised former government-owned Engineering & Water Supply. SA Water had done a deal with crooked Tommy Suharto to develop a water contract in East Java. This never eventuated but according to Yapper, SA Water is still open for business, run by “an offensive expat Aussie”. Yapper reckons that if you have a link to the SA Government, then you get a room at 50% discount.
Two former employees then stated that their super had gone with the OmniPol company – Gordon $27,000 and Ken $10,500. Ken couldn’t buy his son a 21st birthday present.
Yapper then gave a cook’s tour of Lombok. Dunc was camped up in a flat behind the bar with his new love, a young Jakarta woman.
The final shot was of “a couple of Duncan’s goons” who wanted Yapper’s camera.
Meanwhile, according to Yapper, Dunc was swanning it up in Lombok while his former employees, and possibly his constituents, were doing it rough in Elizabeth.
Then Jack returned with an invitation to keep watching for the next instalment of former pollies business dealings!
Hard to believe that little more than 12 months ago Peter Duncan was a respected partner in the legal firm Duncan Basheer Hannon which is currently suing Crikey on behalf of Duncan’s old mate, Senator Nick Bolkus.
If you want to find out more, don’t bother with the Today Tonight website as there was nothing on it when we checked last night: http://todaytonight.com.au
TERRY CAMERON AND TODAY TONIGHT
Terry Cameron, the South Australian Labor MP who ratted and crossed the floor to allow the great electricity sell-off, also featured prominently in the Today Tonight piece last night with the highlight being a picture of the lad holding hands with one of the teenage bar girls at the Lombok hotel Peter Duncan was staying at.
Terry is Clyde’s nephew, former SA ALP Secretary, former ALP Legislative Councillor, former building contractor, former companion to Fiona Campbell, former SA AWU organiser and now leader of SA First party. Somewhere along the way he picked up the skill of being arm in arm with a local Indonesian bar girl and explained to Today Tonight that “it was a local custom for local bar-girls to accompany guests through the hotel and to their rooms”.
Tel then told Yapper that he had been to Indonesia “maybe 8 times” – on business! Yeah sure?
And speaker of Tezza, a South Australian political staffer writes:
“AHHH, Terry Cameron. Now there is an interesting person.
Well known to journos in Adelaide is Mr Cameron’s ability to promise the world and deliver stuff all. Full of theories and full of something else.
Everbody knew he took a keen interest in Asian affairs and it would be interesting to know how many times he has visited the area on both official and unofficial business.
As for reports on official business it will be hard to find out.
I don’t know what the rules are in other States, but in SA finding out what MPs get up to on their trips is hard work.
All travel reports are kept in the Parliament with the Bills and Papers section. Unless the MP involved gives you a copy of the report you have to go there.
But you can’t just rock up and and ask for a copy – you can’t have one.
Well, what about reading it? Fine. As long as member of the Parliament House staff is with you at all times.
You are allowed to take notes, but the staff member also keep a record of everything you look at. The reports are worth a look at.
The now-Attorney General, Michael Atkinson, filed one about the rail system in Melobourne and gave a detailed description of the backyards he could see from the trains. Now that was money well spent.
Or how about Labor MP Jack Snelling’s trip to Rome. The devout Catholic and anti-abotionist filed a travel report which included 100s of pages from a seminar he attended – all in Italian.
Maybe new Premier “Media Mike” Rann will change the rules and also include detailed accounts from all trips taken by Ministers. How about itemised accounts not just the bulk amount from hotels etc?