27 May 2007

Ms Rein to sell Australian part of her business

The news that Therese Rein, wife of federal opposition leader Kevin Rudd, has decided to sell her Australian business interests has been widely, and generally favourably, reported in the mainstream media, eg News.com.au, The Age and the ABC.

In her various media appearances over the last day or so Ms Rein has acted with admirable frankness and honesty.

A few additional points:

1. Given that Ms Rein's companies receive a considerable amount of govt funding, there will be a potential conflict of interest should her spouse become PM (or even a minister) at the election.

2. Conflicts of interest do not only involve spouses or people cohabiting. The Corporations Law mentions several categories of people whose relationship, whether family, business or other, might give rise to a conflict of interest.

3. Once disclosed, conflicts of interest can be managed, and not always by the type of radical measure she has embarked upon.

4. The Australian private employment services industry is largely a creation of the Howard government's policies since 1996.

5. As a number of commentators, including Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian yesterday have said, we need new rules to deal with situations like this.

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