Graham Richardson, aka “Richo” or “Robespierre”, is in a race against a deadly cancer to complete a second volume of autobiography.
The former NSW ALP general secretary, senator and Cabinet minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments plans to reveal information about the financial relationship between Hawke and his patron, TNT boss Sir Peter Abeles, aka “The Beast of Budapest”.
Richardson has kept quiet about the Hawke-Abeles patronage for two decades but he was furious over remarks made by Hawke at a press briefing for the launch of the 1990-91 Cabinet papers.
Hawke told journalists he did not appoint Richardson to the critical portfolio of Transport and Communications because Abeles had told him “something concerning Graham which in my judgement precluded him from properly being in that position”.
The damaging remark infuriated Richardson. He went on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News – where he hosts the “Richo” programme – to say Hawke’s remarks were “utterly and completely” wrong.
He continued: “I intend to detail the exact financial arrangements that ever occurred between me and Peter Abeles. I’ll be making some statements about the financial arrangements between Bob Hawke and Peter Abeles at the time.”
The close ties between Hawke and Abeles have been the subject of intense political gossip for decades. The late Sir Peter obtained his knighthood from NSW Premier Robert Askin in 1972 and later took a seat on the TNT board as well as 110,000 TNT shares.
Abeles first began to foster his friendship with Hawke when he was ACTU president in the 1970s and when he became prime minister Abeles was appointed to the board of the Reserve Bank.
Abeles divorced his first wife, Claire Dan in 1969 and married Katalin (Kitty) who assumed the title Lady Kitty Abeles.
After the “Beast” died in 1999 Lady Kitty launched civil proceedings in the Supreme Court contesting his will and laying claim to a larger share of his estate.
Lawyers acting for Lady Kitty claimed that part of the litigation centred on hotly contested money received by Hawke: the widow Abeles said the money was “loaned” while Hawkey claimed it was a “gift”. I have no idea where the truth lies but I would have enjoyed seeing the former PM and union leader give his evidence under oath.
However, he never entered the witness box, the case was settled and Lady Kitty died in soaring luxury.
Apart from “Richo”, the only person with any knowledge of the Hawke-Abeles arrangement is Emanuel Klein, a retired management and travel consultant.
I find myself in the unusual position of hoping that Richardson survives and remains healthy enough to complete his book. I am hoping he also gives full details of his financial relationship with the late Kerry Packer and the late John “Fatty” Roberts, the founder of Multiplex.
PS: In his seminal book Inside the Canberra Press Gallery, the late Rob Chalmers wrote: “Even as Prime Minister, Hawke rang Abeles every day and would do apparently anything for him.” After a Press Gallery career spanning 60 years, Chalmers (1929-2011) knew what he was talking about.
ASIO’s Turkey stuff-up
A terrorist trial with critical implications for Australia opened in Istanbul this week. Here is the essential background.
The key defendant in the Istanbul trial is Fethullah Gulen, a former close ally of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The billionaire Gulen, who has now become Erdogan’s arch-enemy, is being tried in absentia. Washington refused Turkey’s request for extradition so he is holed up in his maximum security luxurious compound in Pennsylvania.
Gulen and 68 other co-accused, mainly army, police and security chiefs, are charged with plotting the overthrow of the government, treason and terrorism.
If found guilty they will spend the rest of their lives in one of Turkey’s horror jails.
When Gulen, a charismatic teacher, was a close friend and supporter of Erdogan, so was the Howard Government. Family visas, student visas, work visas and holiday visas were handed out like confetti to Gulen supporters who wanted to work, study or settle in Australia.
ASIO and ASIS were quick to recruit Turks as informers and many went on the payroll. As Sunni Moslems they were only too willing to prove their worth by filing reports on Kurd activists, Iranian Shi-ites and pro- Bashar al Assad Alawites from Syria.
The Catholic University was so overwhelmed by Gulen’s so-called inter-faith dialogue that in 2007 it established a Fethullah Gulen Chair in the Study of Islam and Muslim-Catholic Relations.
The event was attended by former Governor-General Dr Peter Hollingworth, former Governor of Victoria, Sir James Gobbo, Victorian Minister for Multiculturalism James Merlino, Melbourne Lord Mayor John So, Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon, senior members of the Victorian police, the Australian Federal Police, and the consul-generals of USA, UK, Germany, Indonesia and Turkey.
The chair was based at the university’s Melbourne campus and Dr Ismail Albayrak was appointed inaugural chairman.
Gulen was enthusiastically praised as “a Turkish-born scholar, educator, spiritual and social leader and a renowned advocate for inter-religious dialogue and peace”.
Today, however, he is seen very differently. Now he is a terrorist, criminal-at-large and head of an underground movement trying to overthrow the elected government of Turkey, a NATO state.
ASIO, ASIS and the Department of Foreign Affairs are caught in the crossfire between President Erdogan and the heavily financed and highly organised Gulenistas.
On the eve of last year’s 100th anniversary Anzac commemorations, then PM Tony Abbott announced a security-sharing agreement with Turkey’s government, sending shivers down the spines of opponents of the Ankara regime as well as Kurds-in-exile in Australia. Will that involve providing lists of Gulen-sponsored educational and cultural facilities in Australia?
Since the presidential election last year Erdogan, a devout Sunni, has attempted to dismantle the secular state established by the great Kemal Ataturk and align himself with the Washington warriors advocating “regime change” in Syria.
He has allowed US and NATO warplanes to use bases in eastern Turkey to bomb Syria but reacted belligerently to Russia’s entry into the conflict to bomb ISIS (who are Sunnis).
Because they completely misread the unfolding politics in Turkey and the surrounding region, the Australian government has ended up supporting President Erdogan and the exiled “terrorist” Gulen and the Kurdish Peshmerga (former terrorists now designated as freedom fighters) fighting to establish their own state inside Syria but sharing a border with Turkey.
It’s a gold-plated example of a monumental diplomatic stuff-up. It has so far cost billions of dollars. It may end up costing many lives as well.
Greed v Need
“The amount of money spent by G20 governments on fossil fuel subsidies [to coal and gas companies] is more than three times the amount spent by the world on subsidies to the renewable energy industry [solar, tidal, wind etc].”
– Joint study by the US-based Oil Change International and the UK’s Overseas Development Institute
“Climate change is not about credible scientific evidence. It has its roots in Marxism.”
– London-born Maurice Newman, former ABC chairman, former chairman of the Australian Stock Exchange and former chairman of London-born Tony Abbott’s business advisory council