This list of people who have skeletons in their closet will probably get us in trouble just like the famous drink drivers list last year which elicited a defamation writ from Senator Nick Bolkus which is still working its way through the Adelaide court system. Please don’t send any more drink drive skeletons but we’re interested in any other variety for prominent Australians. Three acceptable additions for this list will earn you a free Crikey subscription.
Rick Allert: A former insolvency accountant who was director of two companies that got into financial strife – Excel Finance Limited and Macmahon Holdings Ltd, the former an unlisted company, the latter was listed. Now he chairs Southcorp and Axa and looks likely to take over from Stan Wallis at Coles Myer.
Paul Batchelor: the AMP chief executive was operations director for Russell Goward’s failed company Westmex in the late 1980s although supporters say he bailed out after clashing with the crooked Goward who spent time in the Big House.
Peter Batchelor: the former ALP state secretary and furniture industry unionist admitted to printing fake Nuclear Disarmament Party how to vote cards for the 1985 Nunawading by-election in Victoria but this has not stopped him rising from the ashes to be the Transport Minister in the Bracks government.
Laurie Brereton: was linked to a potential bribery scandal involving the Botany Council and a zoning change for piece of land owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd in the early 1970s.
Wayne Carey: gave character evidence in a criminal trial for Jason Moran, the man who was later claimed by the coroner to be at the house of gangster Alponse Gangitano on the night he was murdered.
John Dahlsen: The ANZ Bank director, former Woolies chairman and current Southern Cross Broadcasting chairman was a director of the failed Sandridge Development company which went bust in the late 1980s and cost Victorian taxpayers more than $100 million. Sandridge got sledged by Victoria’s Auditor General Ches Baragwanath but Dahlsen still felt it was appropriate to sit on a three man committee appointed by Jeff Kennett which recommended the neutering of the Auditor General.
Chris Ellison: Ellison paid back $9000 of parliamentary travel entitlements four years ago after Labor started asking questions about whether Ellison had been flying Liberal hacks to party meetings courtesy of the taxpayer. Nothing could be proved and Ellison claimed he’d done nothing illegal, but he wouldn’t table legal advice which he said cleared him. “Choofa” was later made Special Minister of State in charge of the parliamentary entitlements system, which made sense as he obviously knew a bit about the rules. Readers may recall Ellison’s subsequent involvement in the Reith Telecard affair where he apparently knew there was a problem months before the scandal blew up, but didn’t think it was important enough to tell anyone – including the PM. Ellison now runs the Justice portfolio, which is an appropriate appointment for a person of unquestioned integrity.
Charles Goode: the ANZ Bank and Woodside Petroleum chairman was a director of Air Zealand when it almost went broke thanks to the Ansett collapse.
Robert Gottleibsen: Gottie is a great journo but he doesn’t often remind people that he worked briefly for the failed stockbroker Patrick Partners in the 1970s. However, nothing Gottie did actually contributed to the collapse, it’s just something he’d prefer not to mention.
Nick Greiner: remember dstore. The former NSW Premier gave up the deputy chairmanship of Coles Myer to chair this dotcommer which bombed in record time.
Terry Griffiths: NSW Liberal Police Minister forced to resign amidst charges of sexual harassment and molestation of female staff members.
Alan Jones: charged with committing an indecent act in a London public toilet in the late 1980s, the Parrot subsequently had the charges dropped and his career has gone from strength to strength ever since. He also loudly endorsed Estate Mortgage.
David Knott: his former partner in a tax consultancy went to jail for tax fraud but the ASIC chairman was not implicated in any way.
Bruce Mathieson: Teflon Bruce is now saving the day at Carlton and is worth $300 million but does anyone remember the court case where he confessed to not being able to read. And what about the former business venture with Alan Bond. They met at a urinal at the Sofitel and did lots of deals together than upset lots of publicans.
Eddie McGuire: an old school mate reckoned he was an occasional shop-lifter as a kid although Eddie threatened to sue so this one appears not to be true. Eddie’s close mateship with Brad Cooper and especially those cosy holidays on the QE2 still qualify as something he’d rather forget given all that has emerged in the HIH Royal Commission.
Harry M. Miller: Convicted in May 1982 of five counts of aiding, abetting and assisting Computicket Australia Pty Ltd to fraudulently misappropriate $728,000 for its own use. Served 10 months of a three-year jail sentence.
Barry “Bomber” Morris: NSW Liberal MP for the Blue Mountains, convicted and jailed for ‘anonymous’ phone calls to a Blue Mountains Councillor which contained death threats – about the same time a bomb exploded outside the Blue Mountains Council Chambers.
Sir Eric Neal: the governor of South Australia was Chairman of Westpac at the time of its biggest corporate loss ever ($1.6 billion) and near demise in 1992.
Brendan “Brown Nose” Nelson: This prominent born-again Liberal has spent some energy rewriting history – and his former ties with the ALP – as he goes to new and impressive lengths to ingratiate himself with the PM. The federal Education Minister, who famously “never voted Liberal in his life”, can now be seen in Question Time performing figurative fellatio on the Prime Miniature.
Tony Packard: Former car dealer-turned NSW Liberal MP for Hills who was convicted of using listening devices to spy on customers’ conversations at his dealership – forced to resign from Parliament.
George Pell: the ultimate boss of the Catholic Church in Australia lived with convicted paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale whilst he was committing his crimes and then also accompanied him to court as an act of “priestly solidarity”, something he now says he regrets.
Neil Pickard: Former Uniting Church Minister, MP for Ku-Ring-Gai, lost seat in resdistribution to make way for Premier Greiner’s seat, and given the sinecure of NSW Agent-General in London. So embarrassed the Fahey Government with tales of his reckless spending of taxpayer’s funds on living the good life on a grand scale that Fahey recalled Pickard and abolished the post of Agent-General.
John Rawlins: the RACV director and retired Commonwealth Bank executive was a director of failed merchant bank Tricontinental for three years up until April 1988 but clashed repeatedly with CEO Ian Johns so probably came out of the Royal Commission better than any of the other directors.
Graham Richardson: Gold Coast prostitute Sarah Gee claimed she slept with the then Federal Health Minister in 1993 at the Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove.
Fergus Ryan: the well regarded Arthur Andersen partner and Commonwealth Bank director was a commissioner of the old State Electricity Commission of Victoria when they entered into arguably the most outrageous leasing deal in the history of Australia, agreeing to pay the Grollos a total of $646 million over 20 years for a new building when the then opposition had a policy of breaking up and selling off the utility. Taxpayers ended up losing more than $100 million on this building.
Shane Stone: The current president of the Federal Liberal Party memorably promised to “stomp” on “whingeing, whining, carping blacks” – wonder what Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell would have thought of this as they had dinner with him (and the Prime Miniature) in Washington recently.
Sir Rio Tinto: this pillar of the Melbourne and London establishment tolerated failed WA entrepreneur Denis Horgan as a director in the late 1980s.
Wilson “Ironbar” Tuckey: Gained his nickname for the manner in which he persuaded unwilling customers to leave the premises of a pub he owned in Carnarvon, Western Australia. An Aboriginal fellow who caught the sharp end of Wilson Tuckey’s implement was none too happy and Tuckey copped a $40 fine (which sounds tame but the fact that Tuckey was even pinged was a pretty amazing thing to happen to a white publican in that part of the world at that time). The sad thing is that Tuckey seems quite proud of his boofhead origins.
Stan Wallis: the AMP and Coles Myer chairman agreed to chair Pineapplehead, a technology company run by his son-in-law’s brother Evan K, which raised about $12 million but burnt through the lot in two years before an embarrassed Stan resigned.