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Having a go or having a lend?

The following is a tale of men who are living testament to the government slogan that “ïf you have a go, you’ll get a go”.

The first is John Maitland.

In 2008, former NSW resources minister Ian Macdonald signed over a valuable coal licence to a company part-owned by former union boss and good friend, John Maitland.

As reported by Kate McClymont:

Ostensibly Doyles Creek had been granted as a “training mine” but once he had acquired the licence, Maitland’s company sold the rights over the coal deposits for a huge profit and the former union boss instantly became a multimillionaire.

Enter the next character in our tale, mining magnate Brian Flannery, who had written a letter to Macdonald to say what a valuable resource Mailtand’s “training mine” would be – a letter for which Maitland had provided the template and which ICAC Commissioner David Ipp concluded was used by Macdonald to give an air of legitimacy to what was a dubious decision.

A few months later, Mr Flannery had an extraordinary stroke of luck.

Kate McClymont again:

In August 2008, Mr Flannery and Mr Duncan’s company Felix Resources had lost the right to mine at Moolarben, near Mudgee, after mining giant Xstrata won a case before the NSW Court of Appeal. The appeal court ruled that the Mining Act prevented the granting of mining leases to Felix on land owned by Xstrata. But a fortnight later Macdonald introduced amendments to the Mining Act which effectively overturned the court’s decision. “The amendment will provide certainty for mineral exploration and mining in this state,” Macdonald told Parliament.

The following year Mr Flannery and Mr Duncan debuted on the BRW Rich List having each pocketed $530 million from the $3.5 billion sale of their company Felix to Chinese miner Yanzhou Coal.

And in August 2010, at Macdonald’s instigation, 70 hectares of government land at Cessnock was sold to White Energy, a company with which both men were associated, for the sum of just $1.

Mr Flannery and Mr Duncan later featured in another corruption inquiry – this time having to explain how it was that Cascade Coal, a privately owned mining company in which they had invested, came to be granted the Mount Penny coal exploration licence that lay right over the top of a farm which just happened to be owned by the family of disgraced former powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

There has been no finding of any wrongdoing by Mr Flannery and the case involving Mr Obeid and Mr Macdonald is currently before the courts where they are pleading not guilty.

Moving on to 2015 when Brian Flannery and, our next character, Liberal donor Trevor St Baker, bought the Vales Point Power Station from the NSW Liberal government for $1 million, a decision approved by then treasurer, Gladys Berejiklian. Two years later, after posting a $113 million profit, it was valued at $730 million.

When, in March last year, the government revealed its shortlist of 12 projects that could receive government funding through the Underwriting New Generation Investment program, it included a turbine upgrade for the Vales Point coal-fired power plant to improve its efficiency.

One would have thought with the profit they have made, they might have been able to fund their own upgrade but Mr St Baker is never backward in coming forward to benefit from government decisions.

When the federal government announced a $1 billion grid integration fund in October last year, it was to be for storage and network options to help with the integration of renewable energy into the system. The next day, St Baker’s Delta Energy put its hand up for a pair of batteries that it says will reduce wear and tear on the ageing coal plant.

Then on Friday, it was revealed that, as part of the $2 billion deal that Scott Morrison signed with Gladys Berejiklian to increase gas supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector, the Vales Point coal-fired power plant will very likely get an $11m grant – $9.84m to upgrade turbines and another $1.2m grant to fund high pressure heaters. That’s grant, not loan.

This plant is due to close in 2029. In another stellar decision by Gladys, the sale contract limits the owner’s liability to decommission the plant and rehabilitate the site to $10 million with the state to pick up the tab for further costs. Costs for rehabilitation of the similarly sized Hazelwood power station exceeded $300 million. Rehabilitation of the Liddell power station is expected to be even higher, with Delta Electricity advising it expects costs to exceed $500 million.

Our characters all made a great deal of money from government decisions. But still, they want more.

‘If you have a go, you’ll get a go’ could be interpreted as ‘Privatise the profits and socialise the costs’ – or how to become a millionaire with the stroke of a pen.

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  1. Frank SMITH


  2. corvusboreus

    Ian MacDonald and Eddie Obeid, part of the rich political legacy left by former ALP ‘powerbroker’ turned murdoch sky-post-dark opinionist Graham Richardson.
    ‘Whatever it takes’.

  3. Matters Not

    Many if not most political aspirants begin with the purest of motives, only to be disillusioned in the process and then corrupted with the assistance of their colleagues. Remedies that might be considered include :- limited terms, financial transparency, an independent watchdog, confiscation of entitlements (retrospectively) and the like.

    But contrary to popular belief it’s not a job that’s easy if performed conscientiously.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Politicians have an enormous amount of help, much more than most of the rest of us have to do our jobs which also aren’t necessarily easy. The hardest part of their job is deciding which advice to listen to. Sadly, they seem crap at that too.

    I just don’t understand why we keep giving money to businesses that are making huge profits.

    St Baker bought an aging coal-fired power station from us for really cheap. Why should we now be propping him up?

  5. Matters Not


    just don’t understand why …

    That’s what politicians are for. You know – to construct a reality that the majority of voters will accept and (at least) claim to understand. And that’s not an easy task – even with help,

    Where would we be without them?

  6. wam

    the loonies put labor behind the right wing parties carefully cutting off noses as they did in 2009 they have a rich spouse and a foolish leader,We have anti-labor men writing how renewables must have a level plating field sounds good but these men think renewables get subsidies and not fossil fuels. It is so frustrating.
    Has albo got enough room to take any of this up and has he the stomach for an attack??

  7. Pingback: Having a go or having a lend? #newsoz.org #auspol - News Oz

  8. JANO from the Gong .

    condemn them to a welfare card and work for the Mole for the rest of their living days. And lets see if they can Handle their own medicine back – Greedy Mother truckers !!!

    ( Let the poor become Rich ! , And the Rich become Poor !!!!!! )

  9. corvusboreus

    Krudd and Juliar trashed the economy and wrecked our car industry.
    I am starting to miss Neil of Sydney.

  10. corvusboreus

    Albo opposed the idea of a national integrity commission coz albo sees no corruption in federal politics.
    Albo happily swans around with scomo and jonesy coz albo counts richo from sky as a mutual friend.
    Albo sees an undiminished future for strayan export coal.
    Albo can go puff on a blue-veined cigar.

  11. whatever


    Right Wing Fruitcake organization ‘Advance Australia’ is preparing a series of new resources designed to counter the “climate alarmist narrative” aimed at primary schoolchildren. If you look at their website, they seem to be concerned only with Climate Change. Therefore you could comfortably assume they have been entirely captured by Big Coal. https://www.advanceaustralia.org.au/

  12. Kaye Lee

    wow whatever.

    So we are going to have Maurice Newman and Kevin Donnelly deciding what our children will be taught? I don’t think so!

  13. Harry Lime

    Albo has been bitterly disappointing.
    Albo is just another career politician
    “Blue veined cigar?”—- lit up an otherwise dreary Sunday morning.

  14. corvusboreus

    The NSW dept of Ed have already dismissed the ‘go straya’ pamphlets as worthless propaganda.
    The Vic dept of Ed were similarly dismissive, although they may leave the decision to individual school principals.
    The federal minister for education has made no comment, and there has been no word from any of the private/religious schools as to whether they will accept this promotion of climate science denial, but, since many already push the myth of divine creation over the science of biological evolution, I suspect some will.
    As for Queensland,…?

  15. Terence Mills

    And then there’s Kathy Jackson, pin-up girl for the Liberal party and the unionist who showed the way for a generation of rorters.

    Our Kath also has the dubious distinction of being the one who escaped justice, or so it seems.

    Jackson’s last appearance in court was 17 June 2019, but once again the court case was postponed. Not because the dog ate her homework or that there had been floods at HSU headquarters destroying evidence that would clear her. Not a mystery fire or even a self-assessed mental incapacity. No, this time it was a convenient change of legal representation so, of course, the new team of lawyers had to be given time to read up on the now very extensive files.

    I don’t know when she will next face the courts, if ever, as she has also called for a permanent stay. But when they say justice delayed is justice denied I wonder if they were thinking of this farce ?

  16. Matters Not

    Would hope that this material would not be banned or even dismissed. Rather it might (should) provide an unrivalled learning opportunity, depending of course on the way it’s handled. Unfortunately, Kevin and Maurice see ‘education’ as an exercise in the uncritical transmission of what is “known” and therefore see the successful production and distribution of such materials as a type of end point. On the other hand, good teachers, imbued with a ‘critical perspective’ and equipped to do philosophy in the class room, would view Kevin and Maurice’s materials as a starting point.


    Ideally, decisions of what to consider (or not) should take serious note of the subsidiarity principle (concept) which declares that: a central authority should perform only those tasks which cannot be performed at a more local level. And that consideration is best left to the teachers directly concerned. But I suppose we don’t live in Finland.

  17. wam

    have to agree with an exhusband that labor regards smirko’s, nemo’s pauline and brant’s mob as colleagues. Which is odd when some of his own mob are not colleagues and the extreme parties phon and the loonies are certain enemies.
    Labor has been struggling with our position on jobs in mining for the last two elections and the coal boys are squeaking about losing their seats. Albo needs to settle for jobs.
    Nemo knows why labor lost nth queensland and it was jobs, thanks boobby.
    teachers in finland are selected for academic ability/ and have the highest status in society, here the ability to read and write is not a prerequisite and there are tens of thousands in tertiary course who are illiterate and enumerate. They collect debts whilst learning on the course,

  18. Kaye Lee

    I don’t understand the fixation with Queensland. In 2016, the LNP won 21 seats. In 2019, it was 23 seats. Are we to sacrifice the whole rest of the country for the sake of two seats of self-serving Queensland coal miners who refuse to face reality? Bugger pandering to them. Tell them the truth. Any new coal mines will cost existing jobs.

  19. DrakeN

    Matters Not: “Many if not most political aspirants begin with the purest of motives,…”

    I’m old, MN, and have had a lot of time to take an outsider’s view of politics and politicking and I can assure you that you are wrong.
    With the possible exception of a few independents and/or Party gullibles, the vast majority of candidates for Parliamentary election are hardened Party hacks and/or persons of similar venal mentality; the Parties would not present them as candidates otherwise.
    The rot in the Party system is well established.

  20. Matters Not

    DrakeN, perhaps if I restate what I wrote, at least in part and with explanation..

    Many … aspirants begin with the purest of motives, only to be disillusioned in the process and then corrupted with the assistance of their colleagues.

    Many of those who aspire to be politicians begin the journey by joining the Young brigade as in Young Labor or Young Liberals or even Young Nationals (whose membership can continue to aged 35 which is not exactly young.). While it’s more common with Labor than Liberal, it’s increasingly the first step on the political ladder. It’s from the membership of this young cohort that staffers are chosen – it’s the beginning of the process (mentioned above) and at this stage these aspirants are prepared to talk principles and philosophy more generally. Granted it doesn’t last too long but it does begin with the metaphorical stars in their eyes. Note that there’s still contributors to this site who still have this ‘optimistic’ view.

    Experienced it ‘first hand’ both while working for government (closely with all political sides) and standing on the power side of the lectern.

  21. corvusboreus

    Everyone is an enemy.
    Everyone is also an enemy of an enemy.
    Nice to have friends.

    (ps, this is not a haiku)

  22. totaram

    MN: “..Note that there’s still contributors to this site who still have this ‘optimistic’ view..”

    Ha,ha! Contributors to so many sites, who keep saying that this government should ditch this, that, and the other and “just govern”. Seriously! Delusion at its best!

    But never mind. Life goes on – for the rest of the planet anyway, even if vast numbers of species including humans become extinct.

  23. corvusboreus


    Suns tend to explode,
    expand, consume, then implode.
    Life persists elsewhere.

    (ps, this one always has been an optimist)
    (pps, yes, that was a haiku)

  24. Michael Taylor

    “Note that there’s still contributors to this site who still have this ‘optimistic’ view.”

    To have otherwise, is to give up.

    I ain’t giving up.

  25. wam

    kaye the coalition has 76 votes plus the speaker out of 151 take off two and they have 75 out of 151??
    I was optimistic about belting the rabbott so they slipped in turnbull I was dubious about billy but he was going to beat turnbull so they slipped in an arm waving ringer boobby provided a miracle I am optimistic against smirko but albo has to bring back qld and tassie.
    We stalkers never give up because there are alway exciting images.
    Who saw the empty space between pauline’s ears and the words closing the gad???
    The economics lies entrenched in the workers minds and the green wedges brandt will deliver are all that stand between albo and the government benches.

  26. Kaye Lee


    I would imagine the people in Queensland who got all upset about Stop Adani protests must be feeling pretty foolish right now. Adani hasn’t even bothered getting the approvals to be a railway operator. They haven’t got a royalties agreement. The only thing in the news about them recently is that they lied, AGAIN, about illegally clearing land. They were fined $20,000. George Christensen will probably foot the bill for them out of his electoral allowance. Their Abbot Point coal facility was fined about $12,000 in 2017 for releasing water during Cyclone Debbie that contained eight times more sediment than allowed.

    How many jobs have they delivered for locals? When will the mine/railway start construction let alone production?

    What a joke.

  27. Matters Not

    Re Adani and its repeated failures to live up to the multitude of promises made:

    imagine the people in Queensland … must be feeling pretty foolish right now

    Probably not! A glance at the past shows that people will grasp at almost any straw when their way of life faces extinction. The mythical Ned Ludd chose direct action and destroyed the technology that was displacing labour power. Now there’s the ballot box. And it works for some as Trump and Boris demonstrate on a national scale and Canavan et al show at the local level. Adani offers hope. Even an emotional straw or two.

    Last week on The Drum some insights were shown re the cultural aspects/problems of change when the Collinsville power situation was on the table. The political drivers are emotions much more than rationality.

    Besides, when Queensland ‘swings’, it becomes a mother lode of electoral riches. Albo knows that.

  28. Kaye Lee

    Ok…there’s emotions and there is reality. Personally, I get really pissed off when I get lied to.

    The head of Aurizon, which runs the railway that the Carmichael railway is supposedly going to hook up to, told the annual general meeting in October last year that the rail group wasn’t aware that Adani had put any coal haulage contracts out for tender. They haven’t even approached them for a deal. The whole thing is a farce.

  29. Matters Not


    To have otherwise, is to give up.

    While giving up should never be a political option, neither should just wishin and hopin be a good starting point.. What about some hard-headed, rigorous analysis as a way forward? Hasn’t been tried for a while.

  30. Matters Not


    there’s emotions and there is reality

    No! Different emotions generate different realities. While a particular (constructed) ‘reality’ may not be to your liking, it’s what causes significant numbers to vote as they do.

  31. Kaye Lee

    I don’t ‘construct’ reality. I look at the Queensland government approvals website. I read what companies say at their AGMs. I look at the sites advertising for workers.

    People can be as emotional as they want but they can’t change the facts regardless of any philosophical discussions about different realities or alternate facts or hopes and desires.

    I would suggest Labor would do a damn sight better telling people the truth rather than the politically motivated prevaricating they are currently indulging in.

    March last year….

    Lucas Dow said as soon as the State Government signed off on the black throated finch and groundwater ecosystem management plans, excavation would begin.

    “To be honest, if I had those approvals in my hand today, we’d be getting to the work,” he said.

    “We’ve got infrastructure ready to go, we’ve got people ready to go. We have had 14,500 people say that they want to work with us. We want to get on and start delivering these jobs for regional Queensland.”

    Well he got that approval more than 9 months ago. I am working hard to overcome my mistrust of Lucas Dow based on him looking a lot like Steve Bannon….there are many other reasons to mistrust him based on the bullshit he says.

    PS In one breath you say “neither should just wishin and hopin be a good starting point.. What about some hard-headed, rigorous analysis as a way forward? Hasn’t been tried for a while.” Then in the next, emotions are what construct reality and Labor should pander to that to win votes.

  32. Peter F

    Kaye, wonderful work, as usual

    Mines have brought a great deal of employment to Queensland, as you know, but it is coming to an end.

    Even so, it was easy for Adani and Clive Palmer to fool people in Queensland into believe that their mines would bring massive permanent employment.The problem is that most of these jobs have been in the CONSTRUCTION phase of the mines. Now we have towns with massive vacancy rates and house values plummeting. I believe that there was even a suggestion of making mining camps into quarantine stations.

    On Palmer’s lies a ‘miracle’ was created for the coalition.

  33. Kaye Lee

    I come from a very small country town originally and, when the saw mill closed, everyone thought it was the death knell for the town. Times change and we must change with them. I understand the concern. All the more reason to plan properly for the future rather than trying to hang on to the past.

    Coal mining won’t stop tomorrow but any new mines will just be competing with existing ones. New jobs would be bought at the cost of existing ones. It makes no sense in a glut market with declining demand, even if we forget about the imperative to reduce emissions. Even the construction jobs would be temporary – kicking the problem down the road for a year or two.

    The thing that really annoys me about this story is that these guys bought an aging coal plant for really cheap. Yet now they want us to fund the repairs that were always going to be needed – that’s why they got it for so cheap. They have made a lot of money already. Why are we handing over more?

    Gladys pretends she runs a good economy. She sold it for $1 million but will now hand over $11 million to keep it going? Great job Glad.

  34. Peter F

    “Why are we handing over more?” …………. corruption. ‘Game of Mates’ sums it up.

  35. New England Cocky

    @corvusboreus: The Australian car assembly industry was killed off by the ideologically driven LIARBRAL NAZIANAL$ misgovernment of Toxic RAbbott after the 2016 Federal election disaster. The cost was about $200 MILLION in lost taxation revenue and about 30,000 jobs.

  36. corvusboreus

    I should have added “quotation marks”.to indicate a mere repetition of an oft heard spiel.

  37. Ken Fabian

    At every opportunity the Morrison government raises a finger to our legitimate climate concerns – climate responses are more having a lend than having a go I should think.

    Support with a smirk for coal seam gas as climate policy – raised finger. Support with a smirk for propping up coal power plants – raised finger. Support with a smirk for a new coal fired power station – raised finger. No commitment to zero emissions by 2050 without knowing how much it costs (impossible of course), with how much climate impacts will cost specifically excluded from the calculation – raised finger.

    Need I go on?

    Kaye – “Are we to sacrifice the whole rest of the country for the sake of two seats of self-serving Queensland coal miners who refuse to face reality? Bugger pandering to them. Tell them the truth.”

    Agreed. Coal miners can be honoured for their sacrifice to the future of the nation – and get generous payouts should actual policy lead to actual job losses, with the kinds of redundancy packages the likes of which most people in changing industries never see. Or they can look forward to be called out and criticised. Where they choose climate science denial as their fall back defense they will absolutely deserve the calling out and criticism.

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