The Australian has put a big picture of militant construction unionist and WA Labor powerbroker Kevin “Fatty” Reynolds on the front page today for the second time in a week. John Howard was all over the previous splash on 26 May, but not because of these lines revealing Reynolds to be the richest unionist in the country:
The 58-year-old and his wife, state Labor MP Shelley Archer, paid $1.05 million for their Raffles tower apartment last May after striking a deal with Multiplex, which built the luxurious complex. The apartment is now conservatively valued at $1.7 million.
Reynolds and Multiplex, “The Well-Built Australian”, have worked well together. Last July, Reynolds sold his share of Perth’s Coolbelup Hotel, which he owned with former Multiplex director Derek Robson and his brother Peter Robson, for $3.6 million.
Reynolds, of course, is best mates with disgraced lobbyist Brian Burke, whom Paul Keating recently described as “Graham Richardson’s candidate against me for the prime ministership”.
This colourful circle is completed when you look back at the lucrative long-term relationship shared by Richardson and John Roberts, the Perth-based billionaire founder of Multiplex who died last year. Richo famously asked Roberts to do some renovations on his Sydney home in 1983. Marian Wilkinson’s book The Fixer quotes the Multiplex founder explaining his agreement as follows:
I willingly did it. I wanted to do it. He was influential; he was going places. It was more of an in for me; I make no bones about that. Why shouldn’t I do it?
One can only wonder if a similar attitude prevailed with the pub and apartment deals that Reynolds enjoyed with Multiplex?
So why haven’t the Liberals rounded on Multiplex for apparently doing sweetheart deals with such a colourful unionist? Could it be because the president of the federal Liberal Party, Chris McDiven, is married to Multiplex chief operating officer Ross McDiven, who has done 36 years with the company and reportedly received a $4 million payout from the will of John Roberts.
Given the current developments, surely all of this is worthy of another Four Corners story before the federal election. There’s plenty of lively material.
After all, colourful Melbourne businessman Mick Gatto described Dean Mighell as “a friend” on AM last June and Four Corners highlighted the friendship that Reynolds enjoys with Tom Domican when it last investigated the issue back in 2001. The transcript is well worth another read as you listen to Reynolds banging on about Kevin Rudd’s forced bible classes on radio this morning.