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Evidence mounts of WA ex-premier's influence -

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Evidence mounts of WA ex-premier's influence

Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons

KERRY O'BRIEN: Western Australia's Corruption and Crime Commission has again embarrassed the
State's Labor Government, with more hearings into the business dealings of disgraced former Premier
turned lobbyist Brian Burke. The evidence, including detailed conversations recorded in phone taps,
continues to mount up of Brian Burke's influence, from local councillors to Cabinet ministers.
Today, another minister, Tony McCray, was caught up in a scandal, when the Commission was told he
reversed a planning decision, which made the outcome favourable to a Burke client. Premier Alan
Carpenter has cut short an overseas trip to deal with the fallout. The State Opposition hasn't
escaped unscathed, either. This report from Hamish Fitzsimmons in Perth.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: After three months it remained the hottest ticket in town the West Australian
Corruption and Crime Commission hearings into the wheeling and dealing of one former Premier turned
lobbyist, Brian Burke. From Government ministers and mayors, councillors and property developers,
wealthy landowners and spin doctors; deal by deal, the Commission has unravelled Brian Burke's vice
like grip of influence on so many of the State's leading players.

PROF DAVID BLACK, CURTIN UNIVERSITY: Brian Burke's influence which we all thought was substantial
is, in fact, extremely substantial and it's amazing just how far-reaching it is and how pervasive
it's been.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: So pervasive, in fact, that the former Labor Premier was puppet master to not
only to many Labor colleagues but Liberals, as well. Yesterday, the Commission heard secretly
recorded conversations of Brian Burke bragging that he was paying former Liberal Party powerbroker
Noel Crichton Browne $2,000 a month to lobby State Liberals on his behalf.

BRIAN BURKE (RECORDING): I'll speak to Crichton-Browne. I haven't sent all the stuff through from
you from Crichton-Browne. He got it put on the agenda of the shadow cabinet and the shadow cabinet
has agreed to make it one of its policy priorities.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Since his Lazarus like re emergence from the public disgrace of the WA Inc
scandals, Brian Burke has been anointed by local businessmen as the lobbyist of choice when
bureaucratic red tape gets in the way of a good deal and, by all accounts, he can move mountains.

TED SMITH: Everybody is jealous of his ability.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The Irish millionaire and landowner Ted Smith could only speak in glowing terms
of Burke's prowess as a lobbyist. Describing him as 'the great man', he employed the former Premier
to rescue a protracted deal and says the job was done in a matter of months and all it cost him was
$2,500 a month and a block of land.

DAVID BLACK: Brian Burke has to be seen as the political lobbyist par excellence in the sense that
he is perhaps more likely than most to be able to achieve whatever it is he claims that he will do
for you.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: And for anyone wanting a glimpse of the breadth and depth of Mr Burke's power,
they need to look no further than the Wanneroo Shire Council. Here, Mr Burke's influence extended
all the way to Deputy Mayor Sam Salpietro, who gave Mr Burke an inside running on confidential
issues before the Council. The Commission heard that Mr Salpietro would do anything demanded of him
by Mr Burke. Council agendas were rejigged to benefit Mr Burkes' clients, and Mr Salpietro
organized council staff to meet Mr Burke at a moment's notice.

IAN GOODENOUGH, WANNEROO COUNCILLOR: There's always that sort of betrayal of trust, which put me in
a very awkward position.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Long time Liberal Party member and Wanneroo councillor Ian Goodenough learnt
the hard way how he became a Burke patsy. Unwittingly, under pressure from Mr Salpietro, he moved
an amendment to the local planning act, not knowing his action would favour a Burke client.

IAN GOODENOUGH: I felt very embarrassed. Had I known that Brian Burke was involved with this
drafting of the amendment I would have, you know, not moved it.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: In reward for his loyalty, the hearings were told Mr Burke offered to boost Mr
Salpietro's career. In a bugged phone conversation between Mr Burke and Peter Clough, a newly
appointed council administrator, Mr Burke asked Mr Clough for help in securing a position for his
trusted friend. But the biggest bombshell came when the former Premier was heard boasting in
recorded phone conversations that he could rely on at least two West Australian Government
ministers to provide him with confidential Cabinet information. Tapes played to the Commission but
not released to the media heard Burke saying he could have one minister's "pants off him and work
on his shirt, and he doesn't even know". Mr Burke's latest evidence poses another political
headache for the Carpenter Government. In previous hearings the Corruption and Crime Commission has
claimed the scalp of Carpenter minister Norm Marlborough, who was forced to resign after phone taps
revealed how he'd give his old friend Brian Burke regular updates on Cabinet business.

DAVID BLACK: In the case of Brian Burke and Norm Marlborough we have direct evidence in so many
ways that Norm Marlborough's actions were governed by what Brian Burke said.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Now the man with the ever present Panama hat has given the almost farcical
defence " I made it all up", claiming that, despite what he told Norm Marlborough, he has no inside
knowledge of Cabinet discussions.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Hamish Fitzsimmons with that report.