Background on WA's Commissioner for Corporate Affairs - and chronology re AWU WRA Incorporated
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
We first published this research in December last year and many readers may have missed it.
It's worth revisiting, particularly for the chronology regarding lodging forms and incorporating the association.
More soon new stuff soon - here's the article:
Thursday, 19 December 2013
WA's Corp Affairs Commissioner John Metaxas, his sister Marcelle and her boss Carmen Lawrence
On Tuesday, 17 March 1992 the WA Corporate Affairs Commissioner John Metaxas was named 104 times in intense debate in the WA Legislative Assembly - click here.
The debate commenced with this from the opposition:
That this House censures the Premier for -
(a) failing to take action to suspend or dismiss the Commissioner for Corporate Affairs and Registrar for Co-operative and Financial Institutions, Mr John Metaxas, who has admitted publicly to seeking confidential infornation about a private citizen's credit union transactions and then passing on that information to the then Premier of Western Australia;
It continued with passionate contributions from the Opposition and a resolute determination to stick it out from Premier Carmen Lawrence.
Do the public really believe the Premier is living up to her word of being open and accountable and that the Government has changed? We have seen the facts on the record which indicate that she is no better than Mr Burke or Mr Dowding and is continuing along similar lines to the previous Government. In fact, it is. the same Government. The real reason that she will not ask Mr Metaxas to stand aside is that the person who is really running the Premier and Cabinet, Marcelle Anderson, will not let her. Marcelle Anderson happens to be the sister of Mr Metaxas and there is such a thing as looking after one's mates.
The opposition was successful in reading an editorial from the West Australian into the Hansard:
Such action is taken when there is prima facie evidence of wrongdoing; that prima facie evidence exists in the case of Mr Metaxas, who has admitted that he broke the law. On Saturday, 14 March 1992 the headline of the editorial in The West Australian was "Dr Lawrence fails her own test on public accountability". I invite members to read that editorial and I quote the following extract from it -
Although she made an unequivocal commitment to openness and honesty in
government when she took over the premiership just over two years ago, she has
made a habit of falling short on her pledge whenever the political pressure goes on.
The article also stated -
Dr Lawrence's failure to take action against the Registrar for Co-operative and
Financial Institutions, John Metaxas, after he admitted giving former Premier
Brian Burke confidential information from the Teachers' Credit Society showed
abysmal judgment and timid leadership.
For the most part, Premier Lawrence tried to avoid directly tackling the question of whether or not Mr Metaxas should be stood down. As the opposition persisted this is as close to an answer as she came:
The West Australian can publish an editorial every week which the Leader of the Opposition can run off but I stand on firm ground. I know the community believes that the principle of a fair go, however they may like to see these matters expedited, is one that is deeply rooted in the Australian psyche. It is certainly deeply rooted in mine and in my colleagues', particularly the Leader of the House's psyche. If members opposite want to play favourites and say that it is okay for their party but not okay for the Labor Party, or it is okay for a member of the Government not to be able to defend himself but not okay for a former President of the Liberal Party, they must realise they cannot have it both ways. I will not stand by and allow members opposite to do that. I do not believe a single fair-minded member in this House would want me to selectively administer justice in this State on the basis of partial information peddled in this House in an ignorant form by members opposite.
The head of the Premier's department then was Marcelle Anderson, John Metaxas's sister.
Ms Anderson's LinkedIn entry confirming her role with Ms Lawrence is here.
Both Ms Lawrence and Ms Anderson are named extensively in this parliamentary committee report into the failed financial dealings of the "Western Women" Group - click here.
Carmen Lawrence and Julia Gillard were jointly involved in the establishment of the Emily's List organisation in the mid-1990s - click here.
Ms Gillard was at that time "helping" her boyfriend with the incorporation of a slush fund.
So a brief timeline.
6 March 1992 - the ad announcing the AWU WRA is published in the West Australian - click here.
17 March, 1992 - the WA Corporate Affairs Commissioner John Metaxas is adversely named in the WA Parliament. Premier Carmen Lawrence stands by him - click here.
17 March, 1992 - the WA Legislative Council mentions John Metaxas 9 times in debate, calling for him to be stood down - click here.
9 April 1992 - Mr Metaxas mentioned again in the Lower House - click here.
22 April, 1992 - the Application to Incorporate the AWU WRA is lodged with the WA Corporate Affairs Commission. It stamps the documents as received on 23 April, 1992 - click here.
Wednesday 13 May, 1992 -this exchange took place in the WA Parliament - click here.
Mr LEWIS: My question to the Premier is -
(1) In view of the submission by counsel assisting the Royal Commission, will the Premier suspend the Registrar of Credit Unions, Mr John Metaxas, from his duties on the basis that it was open for the Royal Commission to find -
(a) that he had acted illegally and improperly by giving former Premier Brian Burke information on the private financial affairs of a private citizen;
(b) that he had exceeded his powers and had acted illegally and improperly - two counts - on approving the proposal that the R & I Bank should take over the management of Teachers Credit Society; and
(c) that he gave his approval for political purposes at the dictation of former Premier Brian Burke or his advisers?
(2) If not, why not?
Dr LAWRENCE replied:
(1)-(2) I have been entirely consistent in my view of the Royal Commission's activities
Thursday, 14 May, 1992 - Julia Gillard and Bruce Wilson (probably) in Perth - click here.
Thursday, 14 May, 1992 - John Metaxas mentioned 39 times in the WA Parliament, including this exchange with the Premier - click here.
ROYAL COMMISSION INTO COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES OF GOVERNMENT
AND OTHER MATTERS - MINISTER FOR THIE ENVIRONMENT
181. Mr LEWIS to the Premier:
(1) In view of the comments of counsel assisting the Royal Commission in his summing up to the Royal Commission, will the Premier stand down the Minister for the Environment on the basis that there were sufficient grounds for the Royal Commissioners to find that -
(a) he had acted improperly by using confidential information supplied illegally by the Registrar of Credit Unions, Mr John Metaxas; and
(b) that such a finding would mean that the Minister had deliberately misled this House.
(2) if not, why not?
Dr LAWRENCE replied:
This matter was raised yesterday and I brought the attention of the House to the very grave silliness - I cannot put it any other way - of this House purporting to make findings before the Royal Commission does.
Friday 15 May 1992 - Wilson and Gillard mentioned in the Boulder Miner - click here.
Saturday, 16 May 1992 - Wilson and Gillard each address a meeting of miners in Boulder to "sell" the idea of Wilson taking control of the fatal accident and death fund.
Monday, 18 May, 1992 - the Boulder Miner reports on Ms Gillard's presentation - click here.
Wednesday, 3 June, 1992 - Mr Metaxas attends at the WA Parliament - this exchange involving the Premier took place - click here.
I return to the point the Treasurer made about our receiving a briefing. We were to receive a briefing from Mr Metaxas, the Registrar of Co-operative and Financial Institutions. Is he here tonight? I would prefer that he heard my comments.
Dr Lawrence: He is on his way, but perhaps you should wait until the Committee stage to make those comments.
Later in the proceedings
Mr COURT: This is the person responsible for administering the matters for which the Government is seeking the approval of the House. This person is currently responsible for overseeing building societies and credit unions and the Treasurer asks, '"What does that have to do with this?"
Dr Lawrence: Are you talking about the briefing? Is that why they did not occur and why you now refer to this matter?
Mr COURT: Mr Metaxas was going to handle the briefings, and in the light of evidence to the Royal Commission he should not have been in that position.
Dr Lawrence: Is that why you refused the briefings?
Mr COURT: I put it this way: That is one of the reasons that we were uncomfortable with the briefings. The Australian of 12 May contained an article which read -
It was open to the WA Inc royal commission to find that former West Australian premier Brian Burke had directed the State registrar of building societies, Mr John Metaxas, to commit an offence in 1987, commission lawyer Mr Michael Barker said yesterday. The commission could find that Mr Burke had acted illegally in procuring the registrar to obtain information about the financial affairs of the then State president of the Liberal Party, Mr Keith Simpson, he said. The commission could also find that Mr Metaxas had acted illegally and improperly in providing Mr Burke with the information. But Mr Barker said prosecution against both Mr Burke and Mr Metaxas in relation to
the matters was now likely to be statute-barred because of the time that had elapsed. "Mr Metaxas should have told Mr Burke that by reason of his secrecy obligations he was unable to provide him with any information in his possession," Mr Barker said. "Mr Burke was aware of the secrecy provisions of the Act. He should not have asked Mr Metaxas, in those circumstances, to have provided the information.
"It may therefore be open to the commission to conclude that Mr Burke also acted unlawfully and improperly in this matter by counselling and procuring Mr Metaxas.
In relation to another matter regarding the R & I Bank the article read -
Mr Barker said Mr Metaxas had approved a proposal that the Government enter into a management contract with the R & I Bank in August 1987 when he had insufficient grounds to consider it, the commission was open to find. Further, it could find that Mr Mecaxas had acted at the direction -
The ACTING SPEAKER (Dr Edwards): Order! What does this have to do with the Bills before the House?
Mr COURT: This is the gentleman who currently is responsible for handling building societies and credit unions. It is difficult to deal with a senior official on this legislation when the Royal Commission said that it was open to find that he acted illegally. I would have thought that this had a great deal to do with what we are debating tonight. The administrator of credit unions and building societies in this State is the senior person involved in this legislation. This is not the member for Fremantle making an allegation in the Parliament.
Mr CLARKO: The legislation before the House is about establishing a uniform national scheme for the supervision and regulation of building societies and credit unions. Mr Metaxas is the registrar of building societies and credit unions in this Suite. He has a lamentable record and that is why his name has been raised by the Leader of the Opposition. That is relevant to legislation which will be administered by him. My leader's expressions of doubt about Mr Metaxas are an integral part of the debate on the legislation. He is incompetent; it is his job to administer this legislation. My leader does not need to refer to the Royal Commission; Mr Metaxas has been incompetent for years. A number of building societies and credit unions have collapsed while he was the registrar and when Brian Burke was the responsible Minister. Owing to their incompetence the State has lost hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money. The second reading speech specifically refers to the
regulations of building societies. Mr Metaxas is the officer in Western Australia quintessentially charged with administering that matter.
Carmen Lawrence stuck to her guns and stood by Mr Metaxas.
He kept his job for the time being.And while he kept his job as WA Corporate Affairs Commissioner he had staff to supervise and decisions to make. Like whether or not his department would approve the incorporation of a strange sounding association, the likes of which had never been incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act in WA before. Ever.
By 24 June, 1992 he had made a decision.