Slips the net …

PETER Slipper has had his three convictions for dishonesty quashed in the ACT Supreme Court.

The former speaker of the House of Representatives visited wineries on 14 occasions in 2010 and left taxpayers to foot the $954 limousine bill.

The first trip involved stops at seven wineries, the second outing involved five and on the third trip he inspected two wineries.

Justice Burns said “it is not possible to give definitive meaning to the term” parliamentary business.

Mr Slipper will retain his parliamentary pension and gold card travel entitlements.

“The ambiguous definition of parliamentary business means that one cannot conclude that the purchase or consumption of alcohol, or meal, by a parliamentarian is inconsistent with a journey being taken for the purpose of conducting parliamentary business.”

Justice Burns said the prosecution had failed to rule out Mr Slipper had travelled to the wineries for “purposes of informing himself about those businesses as part of his function as a parliamentarian”.

He also said it could not be ruled out that Mr Slipper met third parties for the purpose of parliament.

As a former speaker Mr Slipper will keep his generous pension and gold card travel entitlements.

Both the government and the Opposition yesterday said MPs were aware of the high standard the public expects from them in claiming travel expenses.

Whereas so far as the law is concerned there is no standard at all.

AFL resources were used to lobby the Victorian government on behalf of a mining company part-owned by league chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and former chief executive Andrew Demetriou.

In what both men admit was an inappropriate use of the AFL’s resources, Fairfax Media has confirmed that the league’s executive for government relations last year emailed the office of the then mining minister Nick Kotsiras about issues affecting a mining company that Mr Fitzpatrick has a financial stake in and whose board he chairs.

Creswick Quartz Pty Ltd, which uses a patented method to extract quartz from old gold mines near Ballarat, has Mr Demetriou among its shareholders.

The email from the AFL executive is understood to have led to a meeting between Mr Kotsiras, Mr Demetriou and two Creswick Quartz directors where the company’s proposed operations and permit requirements were discussed.

The revelation raises questions for the AFL, Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr Demetriou about why the resources of the league – one of Victoria’s most powerful organisations – were used to assist the private business affairs of Mr Fitzpatrick, who is in London for the Rio Tinto board meeting, and Mr Demetriou, who recently joined James Packer’s Crown Resorts.

The AFL bosses may have ruined the game we all used to love but they obviously looked after themselves pretty well.
Note for my American audience … The AFL administers Australian Rules Football, you know the game you all think doesn’t have any rules. Well actually the game does, it’s just the administrators that don’t.

We’re part of the union …

Williamson, who ran the HSU as his personal fiefdom from 1995 until 2011, pleaded guilty to several counts of defrauding the union of close to a $1 million and enlisting family and friends to cover up his crimes.

What Williamson has been jailed for was only the tip of the iceberg. He had been defrauding the union for almost two decades.

Michael Williamson, former federal president of the Australian Labor Party, has been sentenced to 7½ years in jail with a five-year non-parole period. Craig Thomson, former ALP member of parliament currently on bail pending an appeal against his conviction for dishonesty, was his protegé at the HSU. You can read more <HERE>.

I wonder if the Obeids will one day join him.

Shaw thing …

“Victoria Police has charged a 45-year-old Frankston man with 23 charges of obtain financial advantage by deception and one count of misconduct in public office,” Victoria Police spokeswoman Cath Allen said.

“The charges relate to an investigation into allegations of misconduct in public office by a serving member of the Victorian Parliament in 2011.”

Mr Shaw has been summoned to appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on 8 October. <HeraldSun>

The parallels between the federal government propped up by the execrable Craig Thomson and the Victorian state government and Mr Shaw are uncanny. The leaders concerned both put their government survival ahead of any thoughts of ethical behaviour, whilst both alleged miscreants will find themselves in court fairly soon.

Mr Shaw has apparently repaid $1250. Which brings us to another interesting parallel …

JULIA Gillard wrote a personal cheque for $4243 to the Department of Finance because her partner, Tim Mathieson, had misused her taxpayer-funded car to drive around Victoria selling shampoo and other haircare products in breach of parliamentary rules.

Documents released to The Australian under Freedom of Information laws yesterday show that Ms Gillard made the payment on March 9, 2007, as deputy leader of the opposition because of concern over a breach of rules forbidding the use of the car for commercial purposes. The documents were provided yesterday after a 10-month battle by the former prime minister and her office to prevent the Department of Finance from following through on its decision to release the material. <TheAustralian>

Can we look forward to Miss Gillard’s appearence on similar charges?

Recycling …

Peter Beattie on Kevni …

No one should ever forget the damage that he has done.

Sources close to the prime minister tell me that other celebrity candidates are under consideration.

Following the outstanding success of Bob Carr and the shot in the arm that Peter Beattie has given the campaign in Queensland, former state labor politicians are considered very marketable properties. Even as we speak Eddy Obeid and Ian MacDonald are being recruited to run in marginal seats. Eddy is particularly attractive because the campaign is somewhat strapped for cash and rumour has it that Eddy has a quid or two stashed away.

As who you know …

GEORGE Brandis: Was Ms Suzanne Jones on the initial short list?

Glanville: She was on the second short list.

Brandis: She was not on the first short list?

Glanville: No…

What happened between drawing up the two lists? Mark Dreyfus became Attorney General …

Brandis: I do not doubt that Ms Jones was an experienced industrial law specialist … What strikes me as surprising about this appointment is that I know from conversations I have had with many senior figures in the court is that the court was looking in this particular case for a family law specialist to handle the family law list, which comprises 80 per cent of its work, and instead, from the large number of applicants for the position received, it ended up with an industrial law specialist with no background in family law matters at all.

And the winner, announced by Mr Dreyfus, is …

The wife of ACTU secretary Dave Oliver. Her prize is the $314,000 job as a judge of the Federal Circuit Court.

Suzanne Jones is a former ACTU advocate and is joining the judiciary just 19 months after the government made her a commissioner of the Fair Work Commission.

It ain’t so much what you know …

CFMupU …

The Supreme Court has found that the CFMEU broke the law in orchestrating the outbreak of thuggery in Melbourne’s CBD last year. The protests were intended to bring GROCON to heal. Justice Cavanough found the union guilty of contempt on five separate days in August and September, during which police were attacked and their horses punched. Union boss John Setka, who has a string of convictions was singled out for special mention.

Federal and State Labor politicians are leading members of the CFMEU fan club. The Socialist Left faction welcomed the union back into its ranks earlier this year, it is the faction of the Victorian  opposition leader who has refused refused to criticise the union’s illegal actions, saying, “I’ve not read the judgment”.

Could it be that he is in their pocket?

AUSTRALIA’S most militant union has been quietly underpinning the Labor Party’s finances, donating more than $9.1 million since the start of the Cole royal commission, placing intense pressure on the Gillard government over the future of industrial relations policy.

Analysis of political donations shows the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has been the biggest donor to the ALP national office since the turn of the century as well as one of the core contributors to the party’s state branches.

As the CFMEU today embarks on one of its most controversial public protests in years, The Australian has obtained a detailed analysis of how Labor profits from the union, explaining the party’s reluctance to distance itself from its at times violent tactics.

Pass the coal …

CLIMATE Change Minister Greg Combet is on the witness list for an anti-corruption inquiry today, to answer questions about a glowing letter he wrote to disgraced former NSW mining minister Ian Macdonald supporting the controversial Doyles Creek mine.

Mr Combet will become the most senior Gillard government member to give evidence to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption when he appears on May 3, as it continues to investigate the allegedly corrupt process that led to the awarding of the Doyles Creek mine licence.

He will be asked to give an account of his involvement with the project and its leading figures currently being investigated for corruption, including Mr Macdonald, former union boss John Maitland and Newcastle businessman Craig Ransley.

Obviously looked into the proposal carefully … good quality in a climate change minister.