Glenn Milne was certainly talking
up his efforts this morning, but poor old Ian Macdonald is now just a
humble backbencher after John Howard sacked him as Fisheries and
Forestry Minister ahead of last week’s reshuffle. To his credit, Senator Macdonald copped it on the chin and was honest
enough to put an accurate characterisation on his departure – the PM called and said he was out.

The same
cannot be said for fellow Costello supporter Kay Patterson who received
a similar phone call from the PM on the same night but tried to fudge
the reality by
declaring it was entirely her decision to resign, as she would not be
seeking another six year term in the Senate from July 2008. It is
not unusual for a 60-something Minister to bow out shortly before
an election, but Patterson has 29 months of her term to serve.

James Hardie is another classic example of a company which hasn’t
exactly been open and transparent in its dealings and the resignation
of director Peter Cameron two weeks ago was just the latest
example.

Cameron was a partner of Allen Arthur Robinson, the law firm
which came up with the disgraceful restructuring designed to dodge
asbestos liabilities, and his fingerprints were all over it. The evidence given to the Jackson inquiry in 2004 made
his position completely untenable.

Cameron should have been booted off the Hardie board straight away, but
instead his fellow directors tolerated his ongoing presence for another
18 months and then he finally resigned on January 19 – “for health
reasons” – just a few months before he would have faced re-election. Check out The SMH’s coverage here and the ASX announcement.

I called the James Hardie spindoctor James Rickards this morning and asked
for some more detail on Cameron’s condition, but was abruptly told: “It
is not appropriate to comment on a director’s health.”

His biography in the 2005 James Hardie annual report says he is also a
managing director of investment banking at CS First Boston in Sydney. I
called their office this morning and the switchboard put me straight
through to his PA’s voice mail, so it appears he hasn’t withdrawn from
this gig.

It will be interesting to see if Cameron’s poor health has also lead to
resignations from the advisory board of Sydney University’s Law School
and his membership of the Takeovers Panel.