Michael Pascoe writes:

Friday’s SMH suggestion that Alan Jones pushed Macquarie Bank’s taxi ambitions over the NSW government
line has reminded a subscriber of a rather different attitude the Parrot had
towards deregulating hire cars, taxis and such earlier this century.

Our Macquarie Street informant reckons Jones almost single handedly scuttled attempts to
reform the taxi and hire car racket when Carl “Hapless” Scully was considering
a little deregulation. Certain souls reckoned Jones was influenced by his
driver who had a few limo licenses.

We’re left wondering who the then
Director-General of Transport, Michael Deegan, might have been referring to in
a letter to the ICAC in March, 2003, obtained by the ABC’s Stateline. The letter was a response to the ICAC’s profiling of corruption risk in the
public sector. Wrote Deegan:

In this regard, the previous administrations have been
considered to be in the pockets of industry – bus, taxi and hire car in
particular. The challenge is to provide for public interest rather than sectional interest
as your report identifies.

A number of our colleagues remain concerned at the corruption of the
political
processes, particularly by some media commentators. Threats to
ministers and senior public servants that they will be axed unless
certain commentators get their way is having a serious negative impact
on the
NSW public sector.

I would happy to discuss. Hire cars might make an interesting case study.

Yours sincerely, Michael Deegan, Director General.”

Not long after writing that, Deegan was flicked when former train driver
Michael Costa became the relevant minister. Stateline‘s Quentin Dempster gave Costa the once over about Jones’s
alleged influence. His report makes interesting reading. In part:

What’s on the public record, though, is
radio broadcaster Alan Jones’s personal attacks on Michael Deegan over a
variety of issues, including the devaluing of private hire car licence plates.


Stateline
has no evidence at this stage of a connection between Alan Jones’s
attacks and Michael Deegan’s sacking. Mr Jones has characterised Mr Deegan as “a mongrel bureaucrat”.

Michael Costa, once accused of moving against former Police Commissioner Peter
Ryan at the insistence of Alan Jones, again denies any undue Jones influence on
Mr Deegan’s fate as D-G Transport.

If the SMH assertion is correct, it looks
like Macquarie Bank knows just who to have on side when dealing with the NSW
government.

Michael Costa is now the NSW treasurer.
Michael Deegan was Steve Bracks’s deputy secretary for a while
and is now acting chairman of the National Transport Commission which attempts
to co-ordinate state governments’ trucking policies. Alan Jones remains Alan
Jones.

Peter Fray

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