Friday, November 25, 2011

Barrister Greg Williams reports University of Queensland nepotism scandal to police

Greenfield may be psychopathic enough to withstand the continuous battering he is attracting but it is amazing that the University Senate is ignoring its responsibilities by doing nothing about him

A BRISBANE barrister who says he is "ashamed and disgusted" at the University of Queensland nepotism scandal yesterday made a complaint to police. Greg Williams urged police to investigate whether there has been any wrongdoing.

"The university is acting like a secretive and paranoid government department," Mr Williams said. "It's time the university realised it is not a law unto itself. Now is the time to make full disclosures about these matters to uphold its reputation and the reputation of those students who have passed through its doors."

Mr Williams also chided the university Senate, the governing body, for a lack of transparency in not releasing the independent report by Tim Carmody, SC.

Vice Chancellor Paul Greenfield and his deputy Michael Keniger offered to stand down after Mr Carmody found "irregularities" in the enrolment process. Later, it was admitted the student at the centre of the row was a "close family member" of Prof Greenfield.

Prof Greenfield, who was paid $1,069,999 last year, claimed the incident arose because of an error and as the result of a "misunderstanding" but failed to elaborate.

The university Senate has decided Prof Greenfield will stay until June next year, after his 65th birthday, while Prof Keniger will leave in December.

There is growing disquiet in the community with calls for Prof Greenfield to leave the campus immediately to avoid further tarnishing the university's reputation.

Mr Williams graduated from the Law School in 1987. He was admitted as a barrister in 1996 and does not practise as a barrister. He is now a company director who is angry the reputation of his old law school at the university is under a cloud.

"Why me? Why am I doing this? There are thousands of academics at the university. Why haven't more of them stepped up to demand accountability? It's shameful," he said.


Sir Lunchalot was a VERY naughty boy

Former Labor energy minister Ian Macdonald accepted "sexual services" from a young woman named Tiffanie in return for arranging meetings between property developer Ron Medich and executives of two state-owned energy companies, the Independent Commission Against Corruption heard today.

On the first day of a corruption inquiry, counsel assisting the ICAC, Geoffrey Watson, SC, alleged Mr Medich and former boxer Lucky Gattellari arranged for Mr Macdonald to "take his pick" of a group of young women "kept" by Mr Gattellari with the knowledge of Mr Medich "for themselves and their guests".

Mr Watson told the inquiry that Mr Macdonald chose a woman named Tiffanie who was later "installed" in a room at the Four Seasons Hotel in the Rocks on July 15, 2009.

Mr Watson said Mr Macdonald had told the ICAC he "noticed some neck tightness and simply attended a remedial massage organised by Mr Medich".

But Mr Watson said: "You might think it strange that a remedial massage was to be provided by a young woman with no training or expertise as a masseuse, late at night, in a private room in a five-star hotel, rather than a conventional setting." Mr Watson said there was "some kissing and fondling, but ultimately no sexual intercourse".

Mr Watson said that, in 2009, Mr Medich owned and controlled several businesses that could have supplied electrical services to EnergyAustralia or Country Energy. The businesses included a number of companies called the Rivercorp Group.

The inquiry has heard that two meetings were organised by Mr Macdonald at the request of Mr Medich and Mr Gattellari, both at the Tuscany restaurant in Leichhardt.

The first, on June 1, 2009, was between the managing director of EnergyAustralia, George Maltabarow, and Mr Macdonald. During the evening, Mr Medich came to the table with an unidentified man and they were introduced to Mr Maltabarow. "Medich delivered a long description of the services that Rivercorp could supply to EnergyAustralia," Mr Watson said. "As it turns out, Mr Maltabarow was underwhelmed and formed a negative view about the skills and experience of Mr Medich."

The second meeting, also at Tuscany, on July 15, 2009, was a dinner between Mr Macdonald and Craig Murray, who was, at the time, managing director of Country Energy.

"Shortly after ordering their meals ... Medich and [the then chief executive of Rivercorp, Kim] Shipley came over, were introduced by Macdonald, and sat down," Mr Watson told the ICAC. Mr Medich and Mr Shipley "presented a sales pitch for the services Rivercorp could provide to Country Energy", Mr Watson said.

He said it would be alleged that Mr Macdonald's "reward" for arranging the meetings was sexual services.

The then owner of Tuscany, Frank Moio, had been approached by Mr Macdonald before the July 15 meeting to ask "that he be provided that night with a woman".

The commission heard that Mr Gattellari organised for a group of women to be seated at a separate table to Mr Macdonald at Tuscany "and to be put in a place within the view of Mr Macdonald so that Macdonald could take his pick of those ladies".

The inquiry has been told the women were in their late 20s and possibly Japanese or Chinese students.

Mr Macdonald is alleged to have chosen Tiffanie, who was taken to the Four Seasons Hotel and "installed" in a room, for which Mr Gattellari paid $400. Mr Medich is said to have driven Mr Macdonald to the hotel and given him the room key.

Mr Watson said there was no suggestion of wrongdoing by Mr Maltabarow nor Mr Murray, but that it would be alleged that Mr Macdonald, Mr Medich, Mr Gattellari and Mr Moio "engaged in corrupt conduct".


Queensland Premier Anna Bligh offers coal seam gas industry help on green tape

Sounds like it is going to need it

PREMIER Anna Bligh has promised to take on the Federal Government over any increase to red tape from its new oversight of the coal seam gas industry.

The Gillard Government has agreed to make impacts on underground water a trigger for federal intervention in the approval of coal seam gas projects. It adds to the existing triggers of heritage and threatened species.

While the State Government said it was comfortable that its processes and approvals were of the higher scientific standard, Ms Bligh said she would not accept more bureaucracy. "This has to be something that adds value, not something that adds bureaucracy," Ms Bligh said.

Queensland Gas senior vice-president Jim Knudsen said the state already had the world's most regulated gas industry. "It's an extra regulation," Mr Knudsen said. "We are disappointed that was the outcome. "Having one more level of oversight is going to be very difficult for everyone."

Mr Knudsen said the industry had just been getting comfortable with the 1500 conditions imposed by the federal and state process. "So we will have to wait and see what comes out of this new opportunity for the feds."

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said it didn't want any duplication of existing regulations.

Association chief executive David Byers it appeared the package had the potential to cause major project delays. "The states already have rigorous regulatory processes in place and one third of eastern Australia's natural gas supply already comes from CSG, developed safely and responsibly under this oversight," he said.

"Any regulatory changes should not overturn good practice, or do anything to hurt the jobs or business interests of the thousands of Australians already working in the CSG industry. "It is concerning to see the Commonwealth flagging possible amendments to create a trigger for more intervention."

Greens senator Larissa Waters said it was unlikely the new trigger levels would affect the Queensland CSG industry because approvals had already been granted for three projects and a decision of the fourth, by Arrow, would be made well before legislation was introduced in about 18 months.


Boat arrival tally passes department danger level

THE fourth people-smugglers' boat in three days has carried the 701st passenger for November into Australian waters - confirming the Immigration Department's warning to the opposition of the consequences of the collapse of the Malaysia plan.

Two boats, carrying 144 asylum seekers and crew, were intercepted yesterday, quickly passing the controversial "600-a-month" threshold the Immigration Department secretary, Andrew Metcalfe, warned would make immigration detention unviable and could lead to European-style social unrest.

Asylum seeker arrivals have more than doubled since last month, when the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced the effective end of offshore processing because the opposition would not pass legislation to overcome a High Court ban on the Malaysia refugee swap.

Since then, there has been one boat tragedy with eight asylum seekers drowning off Java and the death of a skipper in an incident off Christmas Island this week.

The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, challenged the Coalition to match "hollow words" on stopping the boats with action. "If the opposition wants to see offshore processing, we want to see offshore processing; the only difference is we're prepared to vote for it," he said.

But his opposition counterpart, Scott Morrison, called for the government to instead bring an immediate vote on the opposition's amendment to the bill, to only allow offshore processing in countries that have signed the Refugee Convention. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, told Parliament: "The boats keep coming day in, day out".

Arrival numbers have returned to the peak seen late last year - before the December boat crash claimed 50 lives and acted as a brake on dangerous voyages - a level which led to severe overcrowding on Christmas Island, and riots among detainees.

Fourteen boats carrying 955 asylum seekers and crew have arrived since October 13, when the government said it would use bridging visas to move asylum seekers into the community to avoid detention crowding.

The Immigration Department had forecast just 750 asylum seekers arriving in 2011 in the federal budget, and the Mid-Year Economic Forecast, expected to be released next week, must revise spending upwards to account for the bigger numbers.

Mr Morrison said: "People smugglers are cramming more people onto dangerous boats in the lead-up to the monsoon season and the government has no policy in place to offer even the slightest deterrence."

Mr Bowen said the Coalition had "made a political decision, a calculation, that it is not in their political interest to see boat arrivals in Australia stop".

There were 959 people in detention on Christmas Island last Friday, with 344 more arrivals this week. There are 3923 asylum seekers in mainland detention.


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