Scru­tiny again on min­is­ter’s emails

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - KELMENY FRASER

SE­CRET mes­sages be­tween a union of­fi­cial and En­ergy Min­is­ter Mark Bai­ley via his pri­vate email have been re­leased months after a furore over the dele­tion of the ac­count.

The emails, re­leased to News Corp after an RTI re­quest, re­veal that Mr Bai­ley agreed to dis­cuss the Elec­tri­cal Trades Union’s at­tempts to veto a planned su­per fund merger after he was con­tacted by an of­fi­cial on his man­gocube6@ya­hoo.co.uk ac­count in Novem­ber last year.

Lob­by­ing via the ac­count by ETU state sec­re­tary Peter Simp­son was re­vealed by The Aus­tralian news­pa­per last Feb- ru­ary. Par­tially leaked emails at the time re­vealed Mr Simp­son had used the ac­count to ask Mr Bai­ley to in­ter­vene in a pro­posed merger of Queens­land’s En­ergy Su­per with Vic­to­ria’s Equip Su­per.

The union raised con­cerns the merger be­tween the two su­per funds, rep­re­sent­ing work­ers in the en­ergy sec­tor, could jeop­ar­dise its guar­an­teed spot on the board.

But the emails were blocked from re­lease after Mr Bai­ley deleted the Ya­hoo ac­count 10 days after re­ceiv­ing a Right to In­for­ma­tion ap­pli­ca­tion by The Aus­tralian for ac­cess to the emails.

Mr Bai­ley told Par­lia­ment that he was un­aware of the RTI re­quest when he deleted the ac­count.

He was forced to stand aside from the Min­istry during a Crime and Cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the af­fair, but was re­in­stated when it found no ev­i­dence of cor­rupt con­duct.

How­ever, the re­lease of the full email ex­changes with the ETU un­der RTI laws this week threaten to reignite crit­i­cisms that La­bor is too close to the unions.

They paint a cosy pic­ture of re­la­tions be­tween Mr Bai­ley, him­self a for­mer ETU mem­ber, and Mr Simp­son.

Mr Bai­ley was first con­tacted about the merger deal by Mr Simp­son in Novem­ber last year.

“Mate, I’m un­sure if you’re across En­ergy Su­per’s cur­rent dis­cus­sions with Equip Su­per in Vic­to­ria about a pos­si­ble merger?” the email states.

“The (govern­ment-owned cor­po­ra­tions) that are rep­re­sented on the board will have a big say in whether or not any merger pro­ceeds ...”

Mr Bai­ley re­sponds: “Let’s chat soon. Flat chat atm. M.”

“Yup, not ur­gent but im­por­tant when you have five be­fore Xmas,” Mr Simp­son replies.

Mr Bai­ley sent Mr Simp­son two “thumbs-up” sym­bols.

Mr Simp­son later emails Mr Bai­ley: “I don’t know where we go from here but I’m fast get­ting to the stage where we want to kill it once and for all.”

The En­ergy Su­per merger was later aban­doned, but chair­man Mark Wil­liamson has re­jected that it was re­lated to the ETU lob­by­ing, say­ing it had not had con­tact with Mr Bai­ley over the merger.

Mr Bai­ley last night said that he was not a de­ci­sion­maker in the merger process and that no is­sue had been iden­ti­fied with his emails fol­low­ing the CCC’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mr Simp­son is cur­rently on sick leave.

Act­ing state ETU sec­re­tary Peter Ong yes­ter­day de­fended the use of Mr Bai­ley’s pri­vate email to lobby on be­half of mem­bers.

Pic­ture: DAR­REN ENG­LAND

UN­DER PRES­SURE: En­ergy Min­is­ter Mark Bai­ley (left) on the cam­paign trail at a so­lar farm in the Bur­dekin on Sun­day.

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