Labor Party old mates act brought to an end in NSW to stop bonus salaries being collected from taxpayers

THE state government has introduced new powers to end the old mates act on the state's boards, which are packed with unionists, ex-Labor staffers, ministers and MPs collecting bonus salaries from taxpayers.

After 16 years of Labor, ex-ALP allies pack the boards of state corporations. NSW has 15 state-owned corporations in five industries, including energy, water and ports.

While The Sunday Telegraph is not suggesting the appointments are unmerited, the O'Farrell government wants to ensure the process is fair and open. The changes won't affect bureaucratic appointments such as Michael Coutts-Trotter and Jennifer Mason.

Liberals fear those aligned to the former government and the unions could run damaging interference campaigns against their plans.

A Sunday Telegraph investigation has found more than 30 board members with strong links to the former government, unions or the ALP.

They include a former director-general of Premier and Cabinet, Colin Gellatly, paid $103,000 for his roles as chairman of superannuation company Pillar, and as a director of State Water.

State Super has six board members with links to either Labor or the unions. They include Ron Davis of the Public Service Association, who collects $154,780 as an employee representative.

On the same board sits former adviser to Paul Keating Anne De Salis, who gets $38,700 for representing employer interests. Another former Keating adviser, Barbara Ward, takes home $106,900 as the chair of Essential Energy.

Nine more power company board directors have strong union or Labor links.

These include Neville Betts, assistant secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, who collects $60,600 at TransGrid with former MP John Price. ALP state president Michael Lee collects $60,600 as a director of Essential Energy, while ETU legal officer Rebecca Mifsud gets $60,600 at Ausgrid.

Nick Whitlam, son of former Labor PM Gough, takes home $169,834 from the taxpayer. He chairs the Lifetime Care and Support Authority and Port Kembla Port Corporation and is deputy chairman of the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund Investment Board and WorkCover.

Until he stood down from the Health Services Union, former Labor vice-president Michael Williamson collected $111,000 at First State Super and the State Water Board. He denies any wrongdoing.

Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon is also a WorkCover director on $31,815. Ex-MP Ron Dyer gets $20,785 as a Motor Accidents Authority director.

Even Landcom, which sells land for housing, has a Labor appointment: Morris Iemma's ex-chief of staff Kim Cull collects $64,000 as a director. Former minister Rodney Cavalier chairs the SCG Trust and Mr Iemma is a trustee

Treasurer Mike Baird said a new transparent committee would ensure only those with proper skills and experience would be selected in future.

A Labor Opposition spokesman said: "The Opposition looks forward to these procedures applying to decisions already made by the Premier, including appointments of Liberal Party heavyweights Gary Sturgess, Nick Greiner and Max Moore-Wilton."


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