Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:

After the Financial Review’s
report on Friday listing some of the heavy-hitters who turned up to
Peter Beattie’s 10th anniversary dinner – and directed funds to the ALP
in the process – we wanted to see the full list of attendees. So we
asked the Queensland ALP if they could provide the list, but were
fobbed off on the grounds that it was a “private function.”

Funny
that, especially as the Beattie government is in the process of
awarding billions of dollars’ worth of major infrastructure projects
for which several of the companies at last week’s do will be major
bidders.

So we followed up the fob-off with these email questions to the Queensland Premier – which he graciously answered:

Are you concerned that a perception of conflict of
interest could arise given companies such as Macquarie Bank and Babcock
& Brown are buying tables at functions such as this that raise
thousands of dollars for the ALP?

No.

So does it concern you that you’re accepting
funding from companies that have the capacity to derive an economic
advantage from government decisions and are quite likely to do so in
the future?

No. Details of donations are known only to the party and not by me. Moreover, all decisions are made on merit.

In
your view should political donations be public and transparent? If so
why is a fund-raiser event like this considered an exception?

The media was invited to attend and was able to see for themselves who was there and report on who was there.

Do
you think there is a problem with senior former politicians such as Bob
Carr lobbying for Macquarie Bank? Does his relationship with you help
him represent the interest of his clients? Do you have an objection to
this sort of commercialisation of influence gained while in public
office? Would you consider a similar gig when your political career is
over?

My Government makes decisions on merit and on the
basis of a formal process. When I retire I will not be playing any sort
of role in this area. Mr Carr did not attend.

It’s good
to know – but barely plausible – that “details of donations are known
only to the party and not by me.” And it’s good to know that Beattie
has no plans to do a Bob Carr and jump to a gig at an investment Bank.
We’ll hold him to that.

Peter Fray

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