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Replacement MP linked to Burke scandal -

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Replacement MP linked to Burke scandal

Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons

KERRY O'BRIEN: The Brian Burke scandal threatens to degenerate into farce, with the latest
revelation affecting the newly appointed Minister for Human Resources, WA Liberal Senator David
Johnston. Senator Johnston, chosen to replace the hapless Ian Campbell after he was forced to
resign after having a 20 minute meeting with Brian Burke, owns shares in two companies that have
employed Brian Burke as a lobbyist, with his partner, Julian Grill. One shareholding is small; the
other is in a company that's now in liquidation. They're unlikely to cause Senator Johnston
anything more than passing discomfort, but they do serve to underscore how closely entwined Messrs
Burke and Grill are with Western Australian business. Three State ministers have also been sacked
for their dealings with the disgraced former premier and his business partner, and federal Labor
leader Kevin Rudd is still endeavouring to minimise damage from his three meetings with Mr Burke in
2005. So why have the two lobbyists been so popular with big business in the West? Hamish
Fitzsimmons reports from Perth.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: They call this the big end of town, the half-kilometre stretch of Perth's St
George's Terrace that's home to the boardrooms riding the resources boom. From small explorers to
mining giants, they live here and do their business with the house on the hill, as it's known - the
WA Parliament. It's also fertile ground for lobbyists who can navigate the halls of bureaucracy and
political power, and the two biggest names in town are Brian Burke and Julian Grill.

JOHN LANGOULANT, WA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Everyone's known that Burke and Grill have been extremely
busy around town. In fact, you see them almost everywhere.

JOHN HALDEN, LOBBYIST: I think they had significant power within the Government. That's fairly
clear. They have had for probably 20 to 25 years.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: In recent years, having risen Phoenix-like from the ashes of WA Inc., Brian
Burke and Julian Grill, with their political nous and extensive contacts, have been crowned the top
deal-makers in town, guaranteed to get results. Their client list has included some of the biggest
names in mining and property development, including the iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group and
the Australand group. The 7.30 Report approached seven of Burke and Grill's biggest clients, but
none would return our calls. Only this man was happy to discuss the pair, and what they did for his
business.

MICHAEL KIERNAN, MONARCH GOLD: In my former positions I had Julian and Brian as advisers. There was
a Labor Government here, they understand the Labor psyche and they advised me on how to handle and
how to approach particular issues and particular people or departments.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Veteran mining executive Michael Kiernan knows first-hand how influential the
former political power brokers turned lobbyists can be. He's revealed to the 7.30 Report that a
stalled project in the state's north west was swiftly resolved after Julian Grill took up the
cause.

MICHAEL KIERNAN: I know that in that case Julian did in fact speak to the head of department and
also had raised the issue with one of the ministers and, at the end of the day, the government
department did in fact not compromise but did, in fact, change their difficult position and made it
more accommodating for the company.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Michael Kiernan says that, for the 40 or so clients on their books, Burke and
Grill represented excellent value for money. According to the evidence before the WA Corruption and
Crime Commission, smaller players happily paid retainers of up to $10,000 a month, while some of
the bigger companies were forking out success fees of more than $150,000.

MICHAEL KIERNAN: It's not a large cost if you're talking about projects that may be $10 million or
$20 million or in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars and in my case I had them on a
permanent retainer.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Some argue Government over-regulation in WA has meant many companies have
resorted to paying big money to cut corners. John Langoulant from the Chamber of Commerce says few
players could get their projects over the line without the help of someone who knows how to speed
up the workings of the Labor Government.

JOHN LANGOULANT: It's almost been that inertia has been the trademark of this Government and you've
needed external influence to try and get decisions taken.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: And what are those external influences?

JOHN LANGOULANT: Well, it's been Burke and Grill substantially, up to now.

MICHAEL KIERNAN: There was a lot of rhetoric that red tape was going to be cut and slashed,
environmental issues were going to be cut and slashed, and native title issues, and it simply
hasn't happened. And you've got practical mining people that need to get on with the job. They have
shareholders, they usually have banks breathing down their neck and they've simply got to get good,
factual advice, and lobbyists are able to assist in this area.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: While the fallout from the scandal drifts down from Parliament House, lobbyists
are also feeling very much on the nose.

JOHN HALDEN: It is Burke and Grill we're dealing with here, they don't represent probably the
100-plus lobbyists or Government relations people who are employed in Western Australia.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: John Halden is a former Labor MP and ALP state secretary; now he's a political
lobbyist. He says the lobbying industry has been tarnished by the behaviour of just two men.

JOHN HALDEN: There seems to have been a process in which you use them or they approached you
knowing full well the outcome.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Did companies that didn't use them, perhaps, were they disadvantaged?

JOHN HALDEN: Absolutely. And we've had clients in that position.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Still smarting from the CCC's revelations, the Carpenter Government is now in
full damage control. In the hope of restoring public confidence in the ways of government, it's
moved to set up a register of lobbyists to keep track of their dealings, but plenty of businessmen
are still nervous about just how their projects will get up and running without Mr Burke and Mr
Grill.

MICHAEL KIERNAN: I'm not quite sure what's going to be able to happen in the future. Obviously the
effectiveness of Julian and Brian is now zip and I'm not quite sure how the circuit breaker is
going to be affected in the future. It is very frustrating, it is very frustrating trying to deal
with governments and government departments.