We
thought we’d heard it all in politics until someone pointed out to us
that one of the last acts of NSW Labor treasurer Michael Egan was to
appoint former Victorian Liberal treasurer Alan Stockdale to the board
of T-Corp, the outfit which manages NSW’s $20 billion-plus debt
portfolio.

What is it that Stockdale has with NSW treasurers?
First, he took up with Dominique Collins, the wife of former NSW
Liberal treasurer Peter Collins. That was amazing, but for a Labor
treasurer to then call in a Victorian treasurer to help manage the
state’s debt is truly breathtaking. Can anyone else come up with
another similar example of both political and parochial rivalries being
put aside like this?

Given that Stockdale oversaw $40 billion of
asset sales and slashed Victoria’s net debt from $33 billion to about
$9 billion, he’s certainly well qualified for the job. But there might
just be a little conflict of interest to consider as well.

Stockdale
is now making millions for Macquarie Bank where his current role is
heading external relations for global toll road giant, Macquarie
Infrastructure Group, the biggest player in Sydney tollroads.

Successive
NSW governments have only allowed all these lucrative toll road
contracts to keep state debt down and continue to claim budget
surpluses and fiscal responsibility. Now we have the chief lobbyist for
the biggest beneficiary of this policy sitting on the board of the debt
management authority.

Can anyone else envisage what T-Corp
director Stockdale would say if asked whether the state should
debt-fund a new tollroad deal? “Bob, I reckon $20 billion is already
too big a debt for NSW, why don’t you leave it the private sector?”

Stockdale
and Egan obviously became mates when they were rival treasurers in the
1990s, but if anyone else can better the relationship, and a series of
other unusual appointments by Egan in his last weeks as NSW treasurer,
we’d love to hear from you at boss@crikey.com.au.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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