The struggling NSW Government could learn something from Leighton Holdings about handling bad news in a transparent way.

This morning’s Telegraphreports that
Premier Morris Iemma had been warned by Labor head office that the mess
had to be fixed as it was affecting the ALP’s standing in key seats.

were reports at the weekend – now denied – that some senior ministers,
including Finance Minister Michael Costa, were pressing the Premier to
get rid of Carl Scully, the current Police Minister, who was revealed
last week as blowing the whistle in late 2002 on a possible cabinet
leak of information to the Cross City Tunnel operators.

have denied obtaining any leaked information, but the whole affair is
off to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, guaranteeing
that the allegations will remain in the public eye for months to come,
and that the whole issue of Public-Private Partnerships will remain a
political issue for the NSW Government.

The ALP bovver boys
could do less than have a chat to Leighton about its recent lessons in
crisis management. Leighton has learned from some unfortunate publicity
about its Eastern Distributor project several years ago and applied
this to the way it has dealt with the Lane Cove Tunnel ventilation
shaft collapse.

Today the company revealed that not only will
it continue helping the residents of the Lane Cove apartment block
affected by the collapse, it has offered to buy any or all of the
20-odd units at “fair and equitable” market prices.

They key message is that no-one will be out of pocket and that everyone will be treated speedily and with compassion.

Contrast that with these two reports
from the NSW Parliament. The first is a bucket job from the member for
Bligh, the inner eastern city seat held by Independent Clover Moore,
who is now Lord Mayor as well. That was in June 2001.

Some 41 claims from the Eastern Distributor against Leighton and suggestions that the claims were treated tardily.

Here’s a statement to the parliament by the then Deputy Premier, Andrew Refshauge from November 2002.

If you read both you will find that it took up to two or more years for Leighton to get the message.

The NSW Government doesn’t have that long until the next state poll in March 2007.