14/09/2009 - 12:04

CCC clears Bowler of misconduct

14/09/2009 - 12:04

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The state's corruption watchdog has cleared former Labor MP John Bowler of misconduct in relation to disclosing information to lobbyist Julian Grill about Fortescue Metals Group's railway line application.

The state's corruption watchdog has cleared former Labor MP John Bowler of misconduct in relation to disclosing information to lobbyist Julian Grill about Fortescue Metals Group's railway line application.

In a report table in parliament today, the Corruption and Crime Commission said the evidence did not establish there had been a breach of conduct.

The information disclosed to Mr Grill related to an application by FMG to build a railway through a protected Aboriginal heritage area 200 kilometres south of Port Hedland.

Mr Grill and former premier turned lobbyist Brian Burke had been contracted by FMG to lobby on its behalf.

Commissioner Len Roberts-Smith QC said the decision on whether to allow the railway line through the protected area was before the then Minister for Indigenous Affairs Sheila McHale.

"In June 2006, Ms McHale told the then Premier, Mr Alan Carpenter, that she had identified a transport corridor through the protected area, which would enable her to approve the application," he said.

"Mr Carpenter then properly passed this information on to Mr Bowler as Minister for Resources who, several days later, passed it on to Mr Grill during a lunch meeting with the lobbyist."

The report said it is not possible to be satisfied to the necessary extent that Mr Bowler was in breach of an obligation of cabinet confidentiality in disclosing to Mr Grill this and other information from Ms McHale and or the premier regarding the application.

The evidence does not establish that Mr Bowler's actions in disclosing the information constituted misconduct.

The report also concluded that the disclosure of information by Mr Bowler's then chief of staff Simon Corrigan to Mr Burke was not misconduct.

That information concerned a recommendation on the construction of the railway line through the protected area by the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee which advises the Minister for Indigenous Affairs on Aboriginal heritage issues.

The matters were raised at the public hearing into lobbying and alleged public sector misconduct in February 2007.

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