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Controversy over Labor NBN appointment deepen -

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Controversy over Labor NBN appointment deepens

Annie Guest reported this story on Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:24:00

ELEANOR HALL: The Queensland Premier has dismissed the latest concerns about the appointment of her
former chief of staff Mike Kaiser to the national broadband network.

In the State Parliament today the Premier laughed off Opposition suggestions that the Government's
own code of conduct would be relaxed to allow dealings with him.

Mr Kaiser was the Premier's chief of staff until November when he was appointed to a $450,000 job
running the network's government relations and external affairs.

But the Queensland Government's code of conduct restricts former ministerial staff from dealing
with public servants for 18 months.

In Brisbane, Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: The controversy surrounding Mike Kaiser's appointment to the plum job came into sharp
focus in Senate Estimates hearings earlier this week when the Communications Minister Stephen
Conroy admitted he'd suggested Mr Kaiser for the role.

There had been no advertisement and no short list before the former disgraced politician turned
senior Labor powerbroker took the $450,000 job.

Now there are new questions.

JOHN-PAUL LANGROEK: The question needs to be asked about how many special deals are going to be
done for Labor mates.

ANNIE GUEST: John-Paul Langbroek is the leader of Queensland's Liberal National Party.

JOHN-PAUL LANGROEK: Now a special deal is going to have the Premier changing the rules on the
ethics of former employees of the government as to their contact with or their knowledge of the
matters to which they're going to be employed.

And once again the rules are going to be changed so that Mike Kaiser can be given this job.

ANNIE GUEST: The Queensland Government's code of conduct bans public servants from having official
dealings with former ministerial staff on matters they dealt with over the last 18 months of their
government employment.

The Premier Anna Bligh dismissed the criticism in Parliament this morning.

ANNA BLIGH: You've got to apply common sense at the end of the day.

Mr Speaker, Mr Kaiser and NBN will not be coming knocking on the Queensland Government's door to
lobby us about anything.

We will be going knocking on their door like every other state government to make sure that
Queensland gets its share of the NBN rollout Mr Speaker.

ANNIE GUEST: Mr Kaiser was Anna Bligh's chief of staff until November when he was appointed to the
job running the national broadband network's government relations and external affairs.

Anna Bligh says the code of conduct specifically defines official dealings.

ANNA BLIGH: Official dealings is considered to be specific policies, procedures, transactions,
negotiations or cases in which former senior government officers previously acted for or provided
advice to the government.

Simply viewing documents such as Cabinet submissions and decisions would not constitute having had
official dealings on a matter. However the normal confidentiality provisions would apply and I
table those for the benefit of the House.

ANNIE GUEST: Meanwhile the State Opposition has obtained communication from Mr Kaiser to the Prime
Minister's office last July over the location of the network's headquarters.

John-Paul Langbroek again:

JOHN-PAUL LANGBROEK: We have information that we obtained by a freedom of information request that
shows that Mike Kaiser clearly made representations seeking the NBN headquarters to be located in
Queensland.

ANNIE GUEST: Anna Bligh says Mike Kaiser sought advice from the Government's integrity adviser
about the position with the broadband network.

ANNA BLIGH: And indeed I'm very happy to provide copies of the advice from the integrity
commissioner which indicates that there is nothing that would prohibit my chief of staff, my former
chief of staff from having dealings with the Queensland Government on this issue.

ANNIE GUEST: The World Today contacted the integrity commissioner to ask whether he had been aware
of the email dealings between Mr Kaiser and the Prime Minister's office but he said the law bans
him from discussing his advice.

Mike Kaiser held the top jobs in the New South Wales and Queensland premiers' offices after losing
his Queensland parliamentary career over vote rorting.

ELEANOR HALL: Annie Guest reporting from Brisbane.