The chairman-in-waiting for the troubled Mick Young Scholarship Trust is likely to be Kim Beazley, the former federal Labor leader who was one of Young’s closest parliamentary friends. The trust, which gives scholarships to students needing financial assistance to further their studies and training, has been split by infighting over the role of the former Hawke minister’s daughter, Janine, aged 44, who lives in Sydney’s Double Bay.

A forensic accountant conducted a full audit of the books of the trust last year but found nothing that required further action. Before stepping down, Ms Young was paid $70,000 in consultancy fees between July 2007 and July 2008 as well as $30,000 for “out-of-pocket” expenses during an 18-month period. Some of the overheads related to traffic and speeding fines incurred while she was running her late father’s charity.

In a showdown last week, the board elected Ray Wilson, principal of the Plenary Group, as the new chairman with Mary Young, the MP’s widow, his deputy. But the trust’s troubles aren’t over yet. Acting CEO Greg Bates has sent an email to trustees saying:

I am presuming that most of you are aware of the damaging articles which appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald last week. Unfortunately the articles came to the attention of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing and they have asked me to explain matters raised in the newspaper and reasons as to why the MYST remains non-compliant with the NSW Act and accompanying Regulations.

As you will understand it is difficult at this stage to know just where these enquiries will take us, but I wish to assure you that I am keeping the Chairman apprised of developments as they occur and responding openly to Government requests for information. I will know more early next week as to exactly how the Government expects to handle the situation. I undertake to let you know soonest of the results of their deliberations.

The nervous recipients of the email include: NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney, barrister John Young (no relation), Peter Tyson, former senior partner with Turner Freeman, The Whitlams lead singer Tim Freedman, Melbourne ragtrade identity Saul Same and former Australian Trade Commissioner to Japan Greg Dodds.

A footnote to the recent trust upheavals is the role of NSW Cabinet minister Linda Burney who offered herself to become the interim chairman using her ministerial letterhead to seek support for her candidacy. The bid failed. In the same week, Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell revealed that NSW Finance Minister Joe Tripodi had used his parliamentary letterhead to write to Labor Party donors during election campaigns.

With O’Farrell demanding an inquiry into whether Tripodi had breached parliamentary guidelines, the MP for Fairfield offered an apology and said it wouldn’t happen again. Shadow community service minister Pru Goward has criticised Burney saying: “This is a case of inappropriate use of public funds and certainly raises questions about how else, and in what other circumstances, she may have used her Ministerial letterhead.”

She said Part 5 of the September 2006 “Code of Conduct for Ministers of the Crown” referred to “Misuse of Public Property and Services”:

5.1. Ministers shall be scrupulous in their use of public property, services and facilities. They should avoid any situation which could create the impression that such are being used for their own or for any other person’s private benefit or gain.

Goward added: “Touting for another job in addition to the one she already has must, even by this Labor Government’s standards, contravene the Ministerial Code of Conduct.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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