The NRMA is once again providing plenty of court and media drama with
leaks and intrigue board minutes re-emerging after a period of relative calm under president Alan Evans.

Michael West had a taste of some of the board minutes flying around in The Weekend Australian and The SMH’s James Chessell also hinted at them the day before in his CBD column. However, West got it right when he wrote:

But if anybody is leaking sensitive documents would you mind if they belong
to something other than the NRMA? It’s just that … er … if there weren’t a scandal, board spill or legal
stoush going on at the National Ruckus and Mayhem Association it would be a real

The same board minutes came our way, generating a sigh as Richard
Talbot’s 15-year bunfight with whoever is running the NRMA rolls on.
We’re not suggesting for a moment that Talbot is the latest leaker, but
the board minutes do reveal he has lobbed a private writ against
President Evans, on top of the expensive NSW
Supreme Court trial he is running against The Daily Telegraph over an allegedly defamatory Piers Akerman column that partly revolves around who briefed and leaked what to whom.

Some of the transcripts from this battle are quite amusing and we enjoyed this exchange
between Talbot’s barrister and former NRMA President Ross “Sir
Lunchalot” Turnbull on 13 June:

Barrister: Before you agreed
to have your name put forward, he (Mark Coyne) didn’t tell you who the other members of the
board were?
Turnbull: I was very
friendly with Ann Keating. She told me
at length who the board members were and her interests and her comments on
their situations.

Barrister: So Ms Keating
had given you quite a range of information about what was going on in the NRMA,
had she?
Turnbull: Well in, well,
not a range of, but I had, I used to read the papers.

Barrister: Yes.
Turnbull: I used to take
her out.

Barrister: What we’re really
interested in is what she told you about the NRMA. Do you understand?
Turnbull: What she told me?


Yes. She informed you about what was happening in
the NRMA, is that right?
Turnbull: She would tell me
from time to time that she was a friend and supporter of Richard Talbot, yes.

Barrister: When did she
start telling you this, Mr Turnbull?
Turnbull: Probably six
months, I mean, I can go into a whole relationship here, but –

But it appears that Turnbull’s relationship with Paul Keating’s sister
ended before he’d even settled in on the board, if you can believe this part of
transcript about a series of meetings with various
directors at the time he joined:

Barrister: Mr Turnbull,
at some time after that weekend, did you dictate some notes in relation to what
transpired at those meetings?
Turnbull: Yes. It wouldn’t have been that evening, because
I got home later. But the following
evening, following the board meeting, my partner, I dictated a letter, a note
to my partner, and they were typed out – I can’t type. Then I made some notations and then filed
them away.

Barrister: When you say you
filed them away, what did you do with them?
Turnbull: I’m not computer‑literate,
so as opposed to filing them in the computer, I filed mine in a cardboard

So, Ann Keating recruited her big-drinking computer-illiterate
boyfriend to take over as president of the NRMA and within five months
he’d notched up $90,000 on his credit card. Let’s hope she never takes
up a career as a head hunter.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey