very bemusing to read that a public sector superannuation fund’s exposure to a
corrupt business is part of the background to Warren Anderson’s present efforts
to obtain many tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers in the West
Australian Supreme Court. I wonder if he feels any similar interest in
revisiting his role in the Cairns Conservatory scandal that cost another public
sector super fund many millions of dollars?

Anderson wants the WA government to give him back the $50 million, plus
interest, that he put into crooked Laurie Connell’s Rothwells merchant
bank in 1988, allegedly at the government’s behest, to try to prop up
the dying enterprise. As The
reported on Saturday
Anderson claims
a government officer negotiating a real estate deal made the $50 million
payment a condition as it would allow “the government Employees Superannuation
Board to get an “embarrassing” $50 million loan to the merchant bank off the

Anderson seems to have
no concerns about PNG public sector superannuation funds making a very dud deal
six years later – when he sold them a building in Cairns for $18.72 million that he had purchased
a fortnight earlier for $9.75 million. As
Andrew Fowler reported for Four Corners in
2002, a PNG Ombudsman’s inquiry found the former prime minister, Sir Julius Chan,
and others stood to make considerable financial gains from this transaction:

ANDREW FOWLER: In October 2000,
Morauta’s government lodged a court claim in Cairns and Port
Moresby for $30 million damages against Chan, Anderson
and the former finance minister Chris Haiveta, among others.

NONGGORR (respected
former PNG Government lawyer):
I understand that the government of Prime Minister Mekere Morauta approved for
the writ to be filed in court, and I received instructions from the lawyers in
Melbourne to file the writ in Port Moresby, which I

ANDREW FOWLER: A few weeks later, the National Executive Council –
PNG’s Cabinet – reviewed the case after seeking a second legal

DR JOHN NONGGORR: The National Executive Council had decided
that, ah, this matter should not be pursued. That’s the conclusion I’ve

ANDREW FOWLER: Why do you think they decided that?

JOHN NONGGORR: Um, I don’t know because, um, I cannot say what went on through
the minds of the people in the National Executive Council. But, of
course, ah, people can draw their own conclusions from what has
happened. Um, a number of people who were named in the writ are members
of the National Executive Council.

The matter not being pursued no doubt
would have been welcomed by Warren Anderson. And the idea of Warren Anderson not
winning his present case in Perth no doubt would be welcomed by people
still fighting the good fight in PNG.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey