20/02/2008 - 22:00

Cransberg hits ground running

20/02/2008 - 22:00

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It was a high-profile start for Alcoa Inc’s new Australian chief, Alan Cransberg (pictured), stepping up to front a media conference alongside Chinalco president, Xiao Yaqing, after the two companies bought big stakes in takeover target Rio Tinto Ltd.

It was a high-profile start for Alcoa Inc’s new Australian chief, Alan Cransberg (pictured), stepping up to front a media conference alongside Chinalco president, Xiao Yaqing, after the two companies bought big stakes in takeover target Rio Tinto Ltd.

In stark contrast to his low-profile predecessor, global politics stirred up by BHP Billiton Ltd’s massive takeover bid had prompted Alcoa to take the limelight.

At least Mr Cransberg has some experience with celebrity.

The former Swan Districts Football Club premiership player recalls that footy gave him a profile in Perth, though it was nothing like the attention today’s AFL stars receive.

Whether or not Mr Cransberg’s early high profile  will be continued after the Rio-BHP storm subsides is a moot point.

But it is unlikely. Like the man he replaces, Mr Cransberg has been with Alcoa since 1980, so it is highly likely some of the leadership traits will be similar given the grooming and training such a multi-national provides.

It will also depend on the environment in Western Australia, where domestic gas supplies are of concern, or elsewhere in his realm, and whether Alcoa thinks it has to get on the front foot.

CCC procedures come under fire

If Mr McCusker’s suggestion was accepted by CCC commissioner Len Roberts-Smith, the CCC would partially revert to the mode of the old Anti-Corruption Commission.

It means the public would not know anything about the recent inquiry into former Health Department boss Neale Fong’s dealings with Mr Burke.

While the CCC has had little to say on most of the independent reviews, it has challenged the review of Dr Cox’s case.

Agriculture Department head Ian Longson gave Dr Cox a clean bill of health.

Mr Longson found that the Smith’s Beach environmental review was not before Dr Cox or the EPA board at the time of the infamous lunch.

He also found there was no evidence that Dr Cox attempted to interfere with the environmental review process and there was no evidence that Dr Cox was influenced in his role as chairman of the EPA by Mr Grill or Mr Burke.

Mr Longson said Dr Cox’s conduct did not breach the Public Sector Code of Ethics.

‘‘On this basis, Mr Longson formed the view that Dr Cox’s actions did not constitute misconduct under the Corruption and Crime Commission Act,” a statement said.

The CCC fired back with its own statement.

It said Mr Longson’s department does not have the legal authority to make findings under the CCC Act.

The CCC also accused Mr Longson of setting up a straw man.

“The commission did not say that Dr Cox attempted to interfere with the SEA process nor that he was influenced in his role as Chairman of the EPA by Mr Grill and Mr Burke,” it said.

The commission said (on p60) “...the impropriety, with regard to Dr Cox, is in the acceptance of the invitation and attendance at this private lunch when he knew the agenda for discussion and knew (or should have known) that the Canal Rocks Pty Ltd SEA was before him and his agency”.

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