Beattie checked up on Sir Max

by Chris Griffith
Written 6 December 1992


my face


State Labor MLA Peter Beattie has confirmed he discussed Sir Max Bingham's suitability to chair the Criminal Justice with a Tasmanian Labor Government senior official in 1989.

The revelation follows Sir Max's statement last week that he was puzzled as to why Premier Wayne Goss confirmed his appointment as CJC chair after winning office in December 1989.

In an article in last week's Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend supplement, Sir Max said: "One of the big puzzles for me is why Goss chose to appoint me to this job after he won office.

"He [Mr Goss] must have checked on me; people in Tasmania and elsewhere would have left him in no doubt of my [political independence]".

Premier Wayne Goss has rejected any involvement of his government in checks.

And officials of the former Tasmanian Field Labor Government could not confirm any discussion between the Goss and Field Governments over Sir Max's suitability.

However Mr Alan Evans, a former head of the Premier's Office under Mr Field, said Labor MLA Peter Beattie rung him and later met him for an "informal discussion" on topics which included Sir Max.

Mr Evans said the discussion occurred shortly after the Goss Government was elected in December 1989, before Mr Goss confirmed Sir Max's appointment as CJC chair, and before Mr Beattie's appointment to chair the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee.

Mr Beattie has confirmed he spoke to Mr Evans about Sir Max.

Mr Evans said he told Mr Beattie of his experience of Sir Max, but did not advise or recommend whether he should become CJC chair. "Essentially that was a decision for them [the Queenslanders]," he said.

Meanwhile, a former Field Government press secretary, Mr Chris Buza, said it was unlikely the Tasmanian Government would have provided adverse advice on Sir Max's suitability. "Sir Max was a hard person to hate," Mr Buza said.

"I suppose you can describe it as an old school political style. His political style wasn't populist, or confrontational."

Another Field staffer said: "I liked him [Sir Max], and I usually don't like many Liberals. I thought he was a pretty straight shooter, and that's certainly his reputation here."