It’s all happening in Tassie, with a scorching email from Greg Barns turning up on the Tasmanian Times website. But the real focus this morning is on Premier Paul Lennon. The Australianreports “Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon has been caught in an apparent conflict of interest after revelations that more than $100,000 worth of government-funded contracts flowed to a company part-owned by his brother.”

There’s more in The Mercury:

From 2001 until as recently as last year, money has flowed directly or indirectly from departments or agencies for which Mr Lennon has had ministerial responsibility to Global Value Management Pty Ltd.

The company is part-owned and run by Mr Lennon’s brother John, who runs “brainstorming” consultative workshops, mostly for government departments and local councils.

Some of the contracts were directly awarded to GVM by departments or entities for which Mr Lennon held ministerial responsibility before he became Premier in March 2004.

Lennon will be hoping he can make a big enough noise on health at COAG to drown out the row, but the allegations cap of a big week for the red-headed premier.

He added a few green tricks to the spectacular highwire act he does, balancing on a tightrope between environmental and logging interests with the announcement the Recherche Bay area will be saved.

Health continues to be one of the most worrying issues for Lennon. For too long state premiers have shown little interest in health services, preferring to leave incompetent ministers in charge while giving themselves good news portfolios like economic development and tourism.

Things may have gone too far in Queensland to save Peter Beattie, but Lennon still can hope that the Liberals will have trouble convincing the electorate that they would be any better. Health has always traditionally belonged to Labor – and while voters’ traditional perceptions are breaking down, it may be too much of an ask to expect them to trust the conservatives with their hospitals.

Lennon is helping this mood along with a feelgood government advertising campaign on health and changed some top health officials. A raft of related announcements is expected as a poll looms.

The May budget will give him an opportunity to push out the pork. After the Betfair row and the latest allegations, an early Tasmanian election may be off the agenda.

Peter Fray

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