Monday, 31 August 2009

I interrupt this trip to London to bring you news from home …

It was understandable when South Australian Premier Mike Rann interrupted his tour of UK defence establishments to have a Guinness in Ireland with cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Getting the seve- time Tour de France winner back to Adelaide to lead his own new Radio Shack team in a race around the roads of South Australia is by way of being something of a public relations coup. If a small part of the Armstrong price was to leave the company of the merchants of military death to join his friend Lance, perhaps the world’s most famous cancer survivor, in addressing Dublin’s Livestrong Global Cancer Summit then so be it.
Being a Premier concerned with finding cancer treatments fits in every bit as well with an electoral image as does a man racing around the world to drum up defence jobs and next year’s state election will be within a couple of months of the Tour Down Under ending.
What was a surprise, however, was the way that the next day, when back in London under the guidance of his hosts BAE Systems Australia, Premier Rann again diverted from his study of solutions to current cyber security threats to have a few words to say about another local issue — the introduction of a register of lobbyists.
Without any explanation of why the decision was made or why its announcement could not wait until he returned home, the news was broken in that most modern of ways via Twitter.

The Adelaide Advertiser led with the story on Saturday: New code reins in lobbyists.
The SA State Government will restrict the activities of political lobbyists to guard against corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest” — is how the paper put it without giving anything by way of background as to why the need but the story did point out that the South Australian laws would not be going as far as those promised recently by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

The reason for the timing of this intervention from afar by the travelling Premier became clearer this morning when The Advertiseragain led with a story about lobbying — this time the tale of Labor lobbyist’s wife gets government job telling how a prominent Labor lobbyist’s wife has been appointed to the State Government’s top planning body, despite having limited development experience.
The Advertiser explains that Davina Quirke was appointed to the Development Policy Advisory Committee, the body responsible for advising the minister on planning changes, while her lobbyist husband, former State and Senate Labor member John Quirke has developer Makris Corporation as a client:

It all looks just a little too cosy and it certainly is not the kind of yarn that a Premier would like to have up and running as he gets in to full election campaigning mode.
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