While everyone reels from Turnbull’s captain’s pick to neuter the Dutton threat by handing him unprecedented power, this is one of many actions by Turnbull to shore up his own job.
In August 2015, just before Turnbull staged his leadership coup, he offered Queensland conservative powerbroker and LNP President Bruce McIver a new job as a board director at Australia Post.
McIver announced his resignation from the LNP executive on September 7, a week before Turnbull challenged for the leadership.
On 10 December 2015, McIver’s appointment was confirmed without going through the selection process required of previous appointees.
A few days later, despite having retired as LNP president in September, McIver used his influence and vote on the LNP executive to help block federal Liberal MP Ian Macfarlane’s attempted defection to the Nationals.
McIver was at the infamous Rolex dinner before the 2013 election, hosted by dumped Minister Stuart Robert, where Chinese mogul Li Ruipeng met with then Opposition leader Tony Abbott, then shadow resources minister Ian Macfarlane, and Liberal donor Paul Marks, the man Robert accompanied to China to lend support to a mining deal.
McIver is also a longtime friend and business partner of Clive Palmer, acting as a director for Asia Pacific Shipping Enterprises and four related companies. Queensland LNP senator Barry O’Sullivan, the parliamentarian who owns 33 properties, is a long-time McIver ally,
No wonder they avoided a selection process.
In February 2016, the day after his first board meeting with Australia Post, McIver headlined a Liberal Party fundraiser despite government guidelines requiring directors of government business enterprises to “in undertaking their business, avoid activities that could give rise to questions about their political impartiality”.
Also on the Australia Post board is former senator Michael Ronaldson, a Turnbull ally who, in response to being left out of the Ministry, announced his retirement in December 2015, paving the way for the IPA’s James Paterson to fill the casual vacancy.
After leaving parliament in March 2016, Ronaldson, the former minister for veterans’ affairs, began his gig as an Australia Post director two months later.
In late 2014, Turnbull, as Communications Minister, also appointed Dominique Fisher, the wife of former Liberal Party federal president Alan Stockdale, to the board though her selection was through an executive search process conducted by an independent recruitment agency.
Unlike Vanessa Guthrie, former head of the Minerals Council, who Turnbull appointed to the board of the ABC despite her not even making the short list from the independent selection committee, or the IPA’s Tim Wilson who was gifted a role at the Human Rights Commission, at the expense of the very competent Graeme Innes, purely because he was being groomed by George Brandis, as shown by his premature resignation as soon as a safe Liberal seat became available.
And if you have a disgruntled ex-treasurer who may want revenge, send him out of the country to the top job in America and give him a nanny and housekeeper thrown in.
Add in a lazy million or two towards a cash-strapped campaign, and the power bill should be well and truly paid for.