ASIC hope­ful hits back at La­bor at­tack

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - GLENDA KORPORAAL

Credit Suisse chair­man John O’Sullivan has ques­tioned whether the La­bor Party has cre­ated a prece­dent that would dis­qual­ify peo­ple with any po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions from fu­ture pub­lic ser­vice or ju­di­cial ap­point­ments.

“Has the shadow trea­surer an­nounced a new pol­icy that, hence­forth, any­one who has been a mem­ber, or a past mem­ber, or a donor to the La­bor Party wont be al­lowed to take up a ju­di­cial or reg­u­la­tory po­si­tion?” he told The Aus­tralian yes­ter­day.

Mr O’Sullivan, a for­mer gen­eral coun­sel for the Com­mon­wealth Bank and for­mer part­ner in law firm Her­bert Smith Free­hills, was speak­ing af­ter with­draw­ing his name this week from con­sid­er­a­tion as the next Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties & In­vest­ments Com­mis­sion chair­man.

This fol­lowed com­ments by op­po­si­tion Trea­sury spokesman Chris Bowen that Mr O’Sullivan was an un­suit­able can­di­date be­cause of his role in the Lib­eral Party and emails with for­mer Trea­sury of­fi­cial Godwin Grech.

Credit Suisse was ad­vis­ing the govern­ment at the time, through the Trea­sury, on the is­sue of as­sis­tance to car deal­er­ships with fi­nanc­ing problems fol­low­ing the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

How­ever, the emails were used by crit­ics of then op­po­si­tion leader Malcolm Turn­bull and Mr O’Sullivan to sug­gest Mr O’Sullivan was be­ing par­ti­san to­wards Mr Turn­bull. Mr O’Sullivan said yes­ter­day Mr Bowen’s com­ments raised the ques­tion of whether any for­mer mem­ber or donor to the La­bor Party should be el­i­gi­ble for any govern­ment or ju­di­cial role.

“We do have a tra­di­tion in Aus­tralia that peo­ple can lead a rough-and-tum­ble, and even a par­ti­san, ex­ec­u­tive life, but if they are qual­i­fied and pre­pared to leave their past life be­hind, they should be en­cour­aged to do so and join the pub­lic ser­vice and be­come im­par­tial,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said he had been “happy to leave my par­ti­san past be­hind ... and do ex­actly that” to be ASIC chair­man. “But un­for­tu­nately on this oc­ca­sion, the La­bor Party wasn’t pre­pared to give me the ben­e­fit of the doubt.”

He said he had been “bruised” by the process and warned La­bor’s op­po­si­tion to his can­di­dacy would dis­cour­age oth­ers putting their names for­ward for reg­u­la­tory po­si­tions for fear of be­ing sub­ject to po­lit­i­cal at­tack.

Mr O’Sullivan said he had re­ceived “over­whelm­ing” sup­port from peo­ple who felt he should have got the job to re­place Greg Med­craft. “Nearly unan­i­mously, they have said this is a dan­ger­ous prece­dent,” he said.

Among them was for­mer Syd­ney Olympic bid leader and for­mer chair­man of law firm Corrs Cham­bers West­garth, Rod McGeoch. “It is a loss to the good gov­er­nance and reg­u­la­tion of cor­po­rate Aus­tralia that he feels he can’t do the job,” he said.

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