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Former ANL Chairman's claims must be investigated



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JOHN MOORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY, COMMERCE AND PRIVATISATION

FORMER ANL CHAIRMAN'S CLAIMS MUST BE INVESTIGATED

In view of comments by the Auditor-General (ANL: Valuation Issues, ANAO Report No.11 1994-95) it is clear that Laurie Brereton's bungled handling of the proposed ANL sale has damaged the value of the company.

Comments contained in the Auditor General's report reveal that in the light of available information ANAO is satisfied that its earlier assessment that ANL was a "going concern", able to pay its debts as and when they fell due, had been appropriate.

Furthermore, the report cautions that:

'The actions and statements of those involved in the sale process can influence the perceptions of the market to the point where the seller will be perceived as a "distressed seller'. This is likely to result in a lower price for the asset. For this reason it is important that public officials involved in the sale of Commonwealth assets at all times act with discretion in order not to prejudice the Commonwealth's position."

This can only be a response to the reckless behaviour of Laurie Brereton in suggesting that ANL could not even be given away.

Former ANL Chairman, Mr Bill Bolitho, has confirmed that he was concerned "...that the statement would actually damage ANL and its sale value...". In addition, he has alleged that: "If, in fact, the Auditor-General is reporting that we were a going concern, then the dismissal of my colleagues and the statements the Minister made have damaged their commercial reputations".

In view of these serious concerns the Laurie Brereton has no choice. He must immediately act to establish a full, open and independent inquiry into the full range of matters surrounding the proposed sale of ANL.

The scope of such an inquiry should not be restricted, but should certainly include the -effect of the Minister's conduct on the valuation of ANL, the conduct of the sale of Australian Stevedores Holdings and the issue of the damage caused to the commercial reputations of the former members of the ANL Board.

7 December 1994

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For further information contact John Moore (07) 277 4134.

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY