Premier in escape act

Comment: Franklin is a mate of the Labor Party - you will note how he carefully sanitises - and even applauds - Beattie's dispicable support for D'Arcy in his minority government knowing that the man was a paedophile. No reference is made to my arrest on the charge of naming D'Arcy neither is The Courier-Mail's complaint against me referred to. Typically unethical reporting by grubs in high places at this Murdoch paper.

Page 17, The Courier-Mail, 3rd November 2000, Matthew Franklin

Few Queenslanders fully understand this, but Premier Peter Beattie has just managed the biggest escape act since Harry Houdini.

After Wednesday's guilty verdict against former Labor MP Bill D'Arcy for child rape, Beattie already struggling with an electoral-rorting inquiry into the Labor Party, should have been devastated.

Instead he was punching the air, convinced he had minimised the collateral political damage caused by harbouring a sex fiend in his caucus.

"It could have been much worse", Beattie told staff yesterday.

If things had turned out differently, Beattie would probably have been forced to call a general election yesterday - an election he would have lost.

Consider the history. Last year Treasurer David Hamill poleaxed his own government by giving the state's first Internet gaming licence to Gocorp, which included D'Arcy and two other Labor figures as its shareholders. The resulting favours-for-mates scandal outraged Queenslanders and dismayed Beattie, who could hardly believe his Treasurer's political stupidity.

But the full horror of Beattie's mistake could not have been publicly appreciated at the time. This was because Hamill knew when he gave Gocorp the licence that D'Arcy was facing rape charges.

Even worse, the bureaucrats who run the probity checks on casino operators to ensure they're squeaky clean also found that pending child rape charges were no impediment to D'Arcy being given what was effectively a licence to print money.

After his arrest, the law prevented publication of D'Arcy's name as the state MP facing sex charges. But everyone on George street knew D'Arcy was the man. This newspaper had actually published D'Arcy's name before his arrest.

An infuriated Beattie was forced into clean-up mode. He sidelined Hamill and created retrospective legislation to deny D'Arcy and the two other Labor figures profit from the Gocorp venture.

Beattie rode out the Gocorp storm.

But as 1999 ended, pressure mounted as he realised that some time in the new year D'Arcy could be committed for trial, meaning his name could be published.

Terrified by the prospect of a perception that he was harbouring a paedophile, Beattie spent weeks pressuring D'Arcy to quit.

(This is bullshit - D'Arcy was never pressured he resigned days before being committed for trial to save his large superannuation payout).

Eventually (although Beattie has not mentioned this) he is understood to have threatened to back a private members Bill foreshadowed by Independent MP Peter Wellington to freeze D'Arcy's $660,000 superannuation payout. D'Arcy, a man fond of a dollar, saw the light and quit.

(Beattie could have retrospectively had D'Arcy's superannuation withheld - he did not. Now there are reports that D'Arcy has put all his assets in the names of family members so that the victims cannot sue HIM for a cent).

D'Arcy's shameful debauchery and Hamill's unbelievable stupidity had potential to demolish the Government. But Beattie managed to defuse the bomb ironically created by two members of the dinosaur-like Old Guard faction.

Imagine if D'Arcy was still an MP when convicted on Wednesday

· D'Arcy would have been required to quit Parliament upon conviction, forcing a by-election and denying Beattie his one seat Parliamentary majority.

· Beattie would have had to explain why he allowed the Treasurer to grant a gaming licence to a person he knew was an alleged child rapist.

· D'Arcy, meanwhile, would have collected both his $660,000 in superannuation plus continuing profits from Gocorp. (This is bullshit Wellington would have had his Bill preventing a payout to D'Arcy pushed through Parliament).

· And all this would have happened while the Labor Party continued to face the Criminal Justice Commission's ongoing probe into alleged electoral rorting.

About a year ago this is the nightmare scenario that Beattie faced.

But Labor still faces serious questions.

Surely the sex-fiend allegations had been raised among Labor Party bosses at some stage. Even putting aside the sex crimes, D'Arcy was known to colleagues as The Phantom because he was one of the laziest men to set foot in the Legislative Assembly. And that's saying something.

Here was a man who did nothing for his battling constituents while living in luxury outside the electorate and neglecting his parliamentary duties while garnering information he used in complex business dealings to create personal riches.

In short, this man is a despicable grub. Labor party people, including D'Arcy's close friend and fishing pal Bill Ludwig, the Australian Workers Union faction heavy, ought to examine their strange concepts of loyalty.

See article by Balson