Wayne Goss was a terrific Premier of Queensland, partly because of the excellent advice he received from his chief of staff in opposition and Cabinet Secretary in government, Kevin Rudd, between 1998 and 1995.

The two Queenslanders remain close as is evidenced by the fact Goss has sat on the board of Therese Rein’s job placement company Ingeus since 2003.

Goss is one of the few politicians who has left office and forged a successful career in business, most notably as chairman of engineering company Ausenco where he has built up a shareholding worth almost $20 million.

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This means Goss is now one of the wealthiest former politicians in Australia who at 57 could comfortably retire to a life putting a bit back into the community and advising the Labor cause as an elder statesman.

Alas, the former solicitor has instead decided to take advantage of his connections by becoming a lobbyist for an oligopoly which for decades has depended on government largesse and protection for its super-profits.

Yes, Free TV Australia, which represents Channels Seven, Nine and Ten, has persuaded Goss to become its new “independent chairman”.

The press release included the following quote from Goss:

It’s an exciting time for the industry and a time of significant change … I look forward to working closely with the Government and the community to ensure that Australian families continue to receive the services they have come to value so highly.

The protections afforded to free-to-air licence holders in Australia have helped create fortunes for some of Australia’s most powerful individuals over the years including Frank, Kerry and James Packer, Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Stokes and the Fairfax family.

Their collective lobbying power hobbled the development of a viable pay-TV industry for decades and has arguably also contributed to Australia’s pathetic broadband capacity.

You can’t blame any licensed industry from hiring mates of the regulators to further their cause but we should expect the regulators themselves to uphold appropriate standards.

Wayne Goss presumably spoke to Kevin Rudd before accepting the appointment, so our new Prime Minister has some questions to answer.

A close friend who is paid by Kevin Rudd’s wife wearing one hat simply should not became a key lobbyist for an industry whose future hangs on further government protection through the maintenance of policies such as the anti-siphoning list for sports broadcasting.

At the very least, Wayne Goss should now resign from the Ingeus board and Kevin Rudd should declare a conflict of interest in Cabinet when it comes to policies affecting commercial television.

However, a far simpler solution would be for Goss to admit he made a mistake and resign, but that won’t happen unless the media and opposition crank up the issue.

Crikey is prepared to give it a push. Is anybody else? Hmmm, this could be a good demonstration of free TV power in Australia.

*Today Mayne Report video is on last week’s partially successful Alumina board tilt.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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