03 January 2010

"Private matter" all above board?

From The Sunday Mail/Adelaide Now

Former Liberal Premier Dean Brown has been paid more than $800,000 for advice to the State Government on how to tackle the state's crippling drought.

The figure is more than double the amount that Deputy Premier and Treasurer Kevin Foley publicly stated last year.

The Sunday Mail has learned Mr Brown has received more than $800,000 over the past three years, working as chief strategist co-ordinating statewide responses to the drought and lobbying on behalf of communities along the River Murray.

Acting Premier Paul Holloway did not deny the $800,000 figure this week, but Mr Brown said he didn't think it was accurate.

A spokesman for Mr Foley said Mr Brown - who was appointed Special Adviser on Drought to Premier Mike Rann in October 2007 - had been paid by three government departments, but he refused to name them. In December, in his role as Acting Premier, Mr Foley approved a new $130 million copper-gold mine at Kanmantoo, in the Adelaide Hills, to be operated by Hillgrove Resources Ltd - a company chaired by Mr Brown.

The mining project was opposed by the operators of fertiliser company Neutrog, who feared their Kanmantoo plant would have to close because of the mine's impact.

Mr Holloway defended employing Mr Brown, saying this week that the Government's remuneration package with the former premier was a "private matter" and would not be released without Mr Brown's consent.

On tonight's Channel Nine TV news I heard Mr Brown describe himself as a "public servant". If that is correct shouldn't his remuneration package, like those of other public servants, be disclosed?

Mr Holloway (apart from having a name redolent of a minor Dickens character) looks and sounds out of his depth on TV, though in this matter he's more the messenger/monkey than the organ grinder. Definitely not Premier material though.

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