Cooper hires former CJC aid

by Chris Griffith
Published 24 February 1996 in The Courier-Mail


my face


The Borbidge government has countered claims that it will be soft on Fitzgerald report-inspired reforms by appointing a long-time advocate of police and political reform to its ranks.

Journalist Marion Smith, the former media adviser to Criminal Justice Commission chairmen Sir Max Bingham and Rob O'Regan QC from 1991-1994 will next week start work as media adviser to incoming police and corrective services minister, Russell Cooper.

The appointment raises the possibility that the Borbidge government may employ others closely associated with implementing Fitzgerald reforms in the early 1990s.

It also comes amid continued concern by the Labor opposition that the government is developing a close relationship with the Queensland Police Union.

Ms Smith yesterday refused to discuss her new job. "I don't think it is appropriate for me to be talking about my appointment," she said.

"All I would say is that obviously I'm there to assist Mr Cooper deliver what I am quite sure will be very good policy outcomes for the Queensland community."

Mr Cooper also has appointed former Russ Hinze staffer Russell Grenning to head his office.

During her tenure at the CJC, Ms Smith developed a behind-the-scenes reputation as a tough advocate of the CJC's political independence at a time when the commission frequently clashed with the Goss government.

In December 1991, she was the CJC's media officer when the commission released a stinging report accusing current and former MP's of abusing their parliamentary travel entitlements.

The report led to the ministerial resignations of Labor MPs Terry Mackenroth and Ken McElligott, and to the resignation of Mr Cooper as opposition leader.

In 1992, in the fallout after this report and following accusations of leaks by the CJC, Premier Wayne Goss met with Sir Max and advocated a deal -- that he would respond to one of Sir Max's concerns and remove former police officer Garry Hannigan from Mr Mackenroth's staff if Sir Max , in return, sacked Ms Smith.

Mr Goss reassigned Mr Hannigan, but, according to Mr Goss, "Sir Max Bingham did not take the reciprocal action requested". Sir Max was adamant that Ms Smith stayed.

In 1994, Ms Smith was among current and former CJC officers who gave evidence into the leaking of the CJC's November 1993 monthly briefing report prepared for the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee.

The issue came to a head when PCJC chairman Ken Davies denied the officers legal representation at a parliamentary committee hearing. Ms Smith was also denied a right to reply to the evidence.

During her career, Ms Smith worked as a journalist, and worked for both sides of politics.

In 1971-72 she was research officer to then Country Party president Sir Robert Sparkes, and in 1989-91 adviser to Tasmanian Labor premier Michael Field and his deputy Peter Patmore. She was a journalist with Queensland newspapers and wrote political columns for The Sunday Mail.

After leaving the CJC, Ms Smith worked as Queensland correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and then as public affairs manager for the Queensland Timber Board.

Early this year she stunned the conservation movement when she managed to convince former Green Peace International executive director Paul Gilding to do consultancy work for the Queensland timber industry.