Any opposition that leads in the polls as an election approaches has an
informal hit list of government cronies they would like to roll, so with
the campaign now in full swing we’ve updated Iron Mark’s growing hit list – this is how it has
unfolded so far for our paying subscribers.


Revised and updated September 1, 2004

Let’s work up Latham’s hit list

From the July 23 sealed section


On Tuesday, Mark Latham ruled out retribution
against Howard government appointees if he won office. “Civility in
transition to government is important,” he proclaimed. “We’ve got no
hit list.”

Oh really? So Howard appointments to taxpayer-funded
bodies like Peter Reith and Alan Jones would be free to continue under
a Labor government.

At Crikey, we think that’s unlikely, so
we’re starting a new list – Latham’s Hit List – on his behalf. And
we’re asking for your help in nominating those most likely to face the
Labor axe.

Starting with Reith, who is Australia’s $200,000 a
year tax-free representative on the very important European Bank of
Reconstruction and Development.

Labor’s finance spokesman Bob McMullan already seems to have this one in hand – check out this story from The Age.

He
wants to cancel Australia’s membership of the bank – ironic, really,
given it was a Labor government which bought its way into the bank with
a $90 million donation.

How about Alan Jones? How long would The
Parrot last as deputy Chair of the Australian Sports Commission? Along
with Peter Bartels and Cory Bernardi, they form a strong Liberal troika
on the ASC board that would seem vulnerable under a Labor
administration.

Howard’s introduction of the instant axe
for Department Secretaries gives Labor the mechanism to give the heads
of various departments the kybosh.

Will Jane “children overboard” Halton stay at Health – or would she have a future anywhere inside the bureaucracy? Surely not.

What
about Ashton Calvert at DFAT, and former Liberal staffer Peter Boxall
at Employment – both seen as political operatives. Both, however, are
wiley operators, and Boxall has bipartisan credentials, having worked
in former Labor Treasurer John Dawkins’ office whilst Calvert was
actually a prominent survivor from the Hawke and Keating governments.

There’s
Bill Farmer, the highly political secretary of the department of
Immigration and Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs. And Mark
Paterson, secretary of the Department of Industry, Tourism &
Resources, a former chief executive the Chamber of Commerce and
Industry and a Coalition fellow traveler.

Although it’s
tough to pin Farmer down. After all, Labor’s refugee policy isn’t all
that different from that of the Libs, who did, of course, steal it from
the ALP in the first place.

What about the ABC board?
Donald McDonald and Ross McLean are all closely linked to the
Coalition, and would have to be prime candidates for the Labor high
jump.

And what about the Reserve Bank board? Surely former
WMC CEO and right wing warrior Hugh Morgan wouldn’t survive, although
with five year terms it sometimes takes time to weed out the obvious
cronies.

Not all controversial Howard appointees seem
problematic. After initially opposing his appointment, Latham has
backflipped on ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel, and he now seems safe.

And
some would jump, rather than waiting to be pushed. Jane Halton, who
engineered the government’s cover-up over the children overboard
affair, along with the already departed Max the Axe, is probably the
prime example (Jane overboard?).

With the election
looming, it’s time to scour the various boards and statutory
authorities, qangoes and the senior levels of the bureaucracy to
identifty conservative appointments for the possible Latham axe.

Send your suggestions to our Canberra correspondent hugo @crikey.com.au

Latham’s hit list – time to shake-up science

From the July 25 sealed section

Crikey subscribers have come to the aid of Mark Latham. The sensitive Big Brother
fan can’t bring himself to draw up a hit list of senior public servants
and Howard government appointees who might face the axe under a Labor
government. But the Crikey Army has few problems nominating possible
evictees from the Big House under Iron Mark:

Dr Faustus writes from the research lab:

“Robin
Batterham – Chief Scientist. Seen as too close to the Government in its
commercialisation agenda for R&D spending and has done no favours
with perceptions of conflict of interest over coal sequestration and
his ongoing employment at Rio Tinto. ALP likely to do it gently by
making it a full time position.

“Another one almost
certainly on the ALP hit list – or Labor Science Spokesman Kim Carr’s
list to be more specific – is Geoff Garrett, head of CSIRO. Always seen
as a Government lackey to make CSIRO more commercial, his lacklustre
performance and dodgy hiring of mates for various consultations have
raised the ire of Carr in Senate esimates. It is hard to see how he
could keep his position if Carr becomes minister.”

And former Liberal Premiers are also gone but not forgotten:

Prozac Phil wrotes:

“Jeff
Kennett heading ‘Beyond Blue’ at $1,900 a day is a must go, the cause
of more depressions in Victoria than a tsunami of low fronts.”

A subscriber emails us from Rundle Mall:

“How
about disgraced former Liberal SA Permier John Olsen? he resigned after
misleading Parliament to be rewarded with a cushy job as Australia’s
trade representative in LA.”

And an insider stands up for Jane “kids overboard” Halton and DFAT secretary Ashton Calvert:

“I
think Jane Halton could well survive if she wants to. She has strong
support within Health (not a portfolio which usually harbours Coalition
groupies), even among those who don’t much like her style, because she
has never asked staff to do what she isn’t prepared to do herself and
she works bloody hard. Theres a view in the CPS that she drew unfair
flack from Max the Axe in the Children Overboard affair.

“Ashton Calvert is professional and bi-partisan. He serves the government of the day.

“Peter
Boxall, on the other hand, is seen as irretrievably tainted by
closeness to the Libs, his stint as a Peter Costello advisor, and for
the way he’s handled his job in Finance.”

Then there are the favoured silks out there:

“Hilary
Penfold QC who was recently appointed Secretary of the Department of
Parliamentary Services. You may remember that she drafted the
(in)famous border protection legislation when the Tampa arrived off
Christmas Island. And she did it while sitting in the PM’s anteroom!
(see Dark Victory p87 for details).

“Then you
have Colonel Richard Tracey, or Dick Tracey QC, the lawyer who pocketed
$861,990, before expenses, for leading Melbourne hearings of the Cole
Royal Commission and also produced a report dumping on Captain Martin
Toohey’s demolition of the ADF treatment of Lance Collins.”

But Medusa writes that she isn’t impressed by out hit list:

“I
have never heard of anything so stupid. If you are in Government you
appoint people whom you can work with, and whom you have a high opinion
of. I have never heard of anything so stupid as Labor appointing
Liberals and Liberals appointing Labor to jobs and committees. The
whole system would grind to a halt.”

If you think the whole
system wouldn’t grind to a halt without the likes of Peter Reith as
Australia’s man on the European bank of Reconstruction, or Alan Jones
as deputy chair of the Australian Sports Commissions, send your
suggestions for the Latham high jump to our man in Canberra hugo @crikey.com.au

Latham’s hit list – Halton for the high jump! Or Not?
Sealed section July 27

While Jane “children overboard” Halton is deeply unpopular in Labor
circles, some public service insiders expect the Health Department
Secretary to escape the axe under a Latham Government. Our public
service insider, Des Deskperson, explains why below.

But first, two more candidates for the Latham Hit List. Maynard G Krebbs writes:

“What about Alexander Downer’s wife’s position on the Australia
Council? Has there been a noticeable improvement in Australian culture
since her appointment last year?”

CRIKEY: hmmm. We still seem to be churning out the same stream of
average movies since Nikki Downer became a cultural guardian. You can
check out Nikki on Crikey’s list of political nepotism
here.

And Baz writes:

“The Salation Army generalissimo who heads up Howard’s drug advisor
group, will not, should not, last long under a Labor Government.”

CRIKEY: That would be the deeply conservative Major Brian Watters,
who believes in zero tolerance towards alcohol, appointed by the PM as
chairman of the Australian National Council on Drugs.

Meanwhile, Des Deskperson gives a snapshot of the senior levels of the bureacracy:

“I tip Jane Halton to survive. She has been competent enough in
Health. Energetic rather than brilliant, she is not all that liked and
admired by the troops, but feral management has always been bipartisan
in that Department and it’s not as if she has made things worse.

And hey, when it comes to choosing Secretaries, who cares what the troops think!

Far more important is her family connections with Labor. Jane’s
father is Charles Halton, Secretary of the Department of Communications
under the Hawke Government and reportedly close to John Dawkins. Her
father’s former position, by the way, means that she would have
eventually made if to Portfolio Sec irrespective of the Government of
the day or her role in Children Overboard.

Peter Boxall will go. His main value to the Howard government was
his ability to drive an ideological agenda, but in his IT outsourcing
initiative he went too far – even for them. He has also completely
upset the CPSU over his handling of the certified agreement
negotiations in DEWR, and that can’t have helped his chances of
survival.

Mike Taylor will stay at Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery. Although
a Liberal appointment, he is an energetic, has ideas and has impressed
rural stakeholders.

What about Peter Shergold? By all rational measures, he should be
out the door at PM&C about a nanosecond after polls are declared.
But one wonders. He’s a charmer and he has strong connections with
those community groups which usually back Labor. What do others think?”

Latham’s High Jump – It’s time for Pru
Second Sealed July 28

Now we know – from the man himself – that John Howard didn’t have an affair with Pru Goward: http://www.crikey.com.au/politics/2004/07/15-0004.html

But that doesn’t mean the PM should have appointed the wife of his
biographer his Sex Discrimination Commissioner, according to Crikey
subscribers. Although this is one appointment where Goward has shown a
streak of independence, she’s been nominated by the Crikey Army for
Latham’s High Jump under a Labor government.

JP sums up the sentiment: “Pru Goward. An unbiased, apolitical appointee? I don’t think so.”

Still, it’s common knowledge that Pru and the PM don’t see eye to eye
on a number of issues, particularly when she’s challenging his
fuddy-duddy notions on maternity leave: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/media_releases/2004/45_04.htm

Latham’s High Jump II – goodbye to Centerlink’s Darth Vader

Meanwhile, our welfare correspondent, Henderson Lyne, writes:

“In a month where Larry Anthony’s complete failure to properly manage
billions of dollars of welfare and family benefits is on display it is
worth speculating on who in Centrelink and the Department of Family and
Community Services might be for the chop under a Labor Government.

The vocal supporters of the controversial family tax benefit, like FACS
executive director David Kalisch, would do well to replay their Senate
estimates performances to see just how far over the line they may have
stepped defending the indefensible.

And Centrelink CEO Sue “Darth Vader” Vardon may also have trouble
holding onto her spot given the continuing problems at Centrelink.

One who is almost certain to face the axe is new Centrelink board
appointee David Deans from the COTA-Seniors lobby group. Deans was the
subject of a recent piece by Adele Horin in the SMH for his
“Liberalisation” of the aged lobby, which in some cases has even
included running counter to the interests of his constituency on some
issues.
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/16/1089694566608.html

Ex-COTA front man Denys Correll was quietly pensioned off overseas to a
plum post so that Dean could take control of both groups, effectively
removing any dissent from the aged lobby ahead of the election.

Deans is a long time Liberal hack who incidentally always manages to
fly first class – no doubt at considerable expense to his flock.”

>
Latham’s hit list – diplomats in the gun
Sealed section August 2

Our diplomatic correspondent Zhou Enlai says heads would roll in our overseas missions under a Latham government:

Michael Thawley, ex-Howard staffer and now ambassador in Washington,
will be one of the first out the door. He’s regarded as being
“bonded” with the Bush Administration and won’t survive under Latham.

Richard L’Estrange, (Dick the odd) another ex-Howard staffer, now High
Commissioner in London, is seen as doing a pretty good job, but he’d be
unlikely to survive.

And then there’s former Senator and father of many John Herron, Our Man
In Dublin – can’t see him being allowed to continue sucking up
pints of Guinness at taxpayer’s expense.

Latham’s hit list – time to can the censor?
Sealed section August 19

>Our mention today of jaunting former Howard Minister Peter Reith
has brought forward a new nomination for Mark Latham’s Hit List.
R-Rated Richard writes:

“I nominate Des Clark, ex-Liberal Lord Mayor of Melbourne, now director
of both the Classification Board and the Office of Film and
Literature Classification. Can he really hope to cling on to both jobs under a Labor government?

His most recent triumph has been a European jaunt through six countries touting interest in an Australian Classification
conference, culminating in a visit to a conference on the same topic.
He then timed his own event to coincide with the European event. No one
attended and now the office is in precarious financial circumstances.

Aside from his international pursuits, it’s worth asking whether the
head of a Board intended to be independent of the government should
also head the government office providing administrative support to
that board? It’s unlikely Labor’s shadow communications minister,
Lindsay Tanner, would think so.

Des has also lost at least two Liberal preselection contests which won’t count in his favour.”

CRIKEY: We should disclose an interest at this point. Des was a
neighbour of ours back in the 1990s when we rented a rickety East
Melbourne terrace full of journos. Delicate Des frequently let us know
he was not happy with our noisy and robust lifestyle but Crikey later
became quite friendly with him. However, that will not stop us calling
for additions to the Latham Hit List. Send them to our man in Canberra:
[email protected]

Keep sending in those nominees for the Latham High Jump to our man in Canberra hugo @crikey.com.au

Peter Fray

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