Yesterday’s Crikey had the subscriber-contributed line: “Is it just me or is
Morris Iemma’s new line-up of ministers starting to resemble the cast from
the movie Wise Guys?” It’s a great line, wish I had thought of

As a general rule of thumb, you can always tell when the back room
bovver boys of Sussex St are digging deep into the favours bin when you hear
of the appointment of David Richmond, this time charged with the task of heading up the state’s new infrastructure development unit.

Richmond, author of the Richmond Report on mental health services
in the 80s, was also the supreme leader of the Olympic Coordination
Authority – we knew he was the supreme leader as he bowed first and
lowest whenever Michael Knight entered the room. And depending on your
perspective, Richmond is either a Machiavellian genius who knows as
much about state labor power manipulation as anyone since John Ducker,
or a hanger-on party man who is always available to take the plum jobs.

Richmond took the major kudos for the Olympics construction
role, though an unkind observer might point out that the entire
construction effort was undertaken by Bob Leece, a genuine dynamo, as
well as Mick
O’Brien, one of nature’s gentlemen, and others under the supposed
watchful eye of David Richmond. Bob Leece was on a salary package $1 a
year less than Richmond so that he would look like the most
important person. Richmond’s role was largely to hold Michael Knight’s
hand, and VIP Olympic visitors, and occasionally make sure that Knight
didn’t get too involved, leaving Bob Leece to do all the work.

Expect to see Richmond’s role as
infrastructure supremo involving lots of hand holding, perception management
and probably not much action at all, unless they can encourage Bob Leece
to come back and actually build something.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey