Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Mr 59 0.44%

ABC Online reports that famously bent Banana Bender Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen is having another go at prizing open the cash drawer of the Queensland till, so that he can get his grubby little fingers in:

Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen has confirmed that the former Queensland premier Sir Joh will, for a second time, seek compensation for legal expenses from Fitzgerald Inquiry.

In October the Beattie government sought Crown Law advice and rejected his claim for almost $340 million in compensation.

Sir Joh is now seeking an ex gratia payment of $1.5 million for legal fees relating to the Fitzgerald Inquiry and the perjury trial that followed.

I think the Beattie government should show a bit of generosity at this stage. They could do a quick whip-round of parliament and hand the collection over in a brown paper bag without setting too many troublesome legal precedents. It's an idea that would probably enjoy a lot of bipartisan support - even the brown paper bag bit.

Update: AM have finally put their transcript up, which includes some information on the precedent under which Sir Joh is seeking his ex-gratia payment:

Family friend and advisor Geoff Moss insists a 1986 Cabinet decision allows for such a payment.

GEOFF MOSS: This is not a big sum of money, $1.5 million legal costs, stretching back since 1987, especially when most of the matters dealt with were Queensland Government business.

LOUISE WILLIS: How desperate is Sir Joh to see some of this money?

GEOFF MOSS: Sir Joh wants his name cleared. You see, Sir Joh has never been convicted, and quite frankly he's an innocent victim of injustice and I believe Sir Joh should keep fighting until he gets his name cleared.

LOUISE WILLIS: But that's not how others see it. Queensland's acting Premier Terry Mackenroth says Sir Joh's legal precedent is flawed.

TERRY MACKENROTH: It was actually the Cabinet decision taken in 1986 so that the Cabinet ministers of that time could take defamation actions against Labor politicians who spoke about them in the media.

LOUISE WILLIS: So does that apply?

TERRY MACKENROTH: I don't think that it's relevant at all.

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