I really can’t understand what all the fuss is with this Tasmanian Compliance Corporation business.

Here we have the government providing the opportunity for a trio of Labor mates, with a bit of inside running, to make a big quid and a lot of jealous losers are getting nasty about it.

Beats me.

There was a time when we applauded entrepreneurial spirit — now we have people getting crabby when a couple of blokes get the chance to put the squeeze on a few rich punters in the building industry.

As I read the situation Messrs. David Diprose, John White and Glen Milliner established a private company called the Tasmanian Compliance Corporation which the Tasmanian government has engaged to accredit building professionals such as builders, architects, designers and draftspersons. According to Mr. Diprose — who has spat the dummy and ripped up his party frock as well — the show costs about $300,000 a year to run but earns some $1.3 million in fees.

Nice work if you can get it.

Mr. White and Mr. Milliner tossed Mr. Diprose out last year because they didn’t like his ties or something — I don’t know the full story, like everyone else —  and Mr. Diprose has responded by declaring that Messrs. White and Milliner have turned out to be a nasty pair of whackers who are milking the show as hard and fast as they can. Or words to that effect.

Really creaming it

According to Mr. Diprose his former esteemed board colleague John White is really creaming it, alleging White raked in $165,000 over the past two years in profits from the TCC, a director’s fee of $20,000, a salary of $50,000, a $15,000 car allowance, profits of $165,000 over the past two years that have gone into his superannuation fund and he works less than two hours a week for all this, according to Mr. Diprose.

No wonder they rissoled poor old Dippy — now they are presumably splitting up his share too! Why not? A couple of decent entrepreneurial lads feathering their nests as fast as they can. The critics should get a life. This sort of thing happens nearly everywhere, from Venezuela in the east to Zimbabwe in the west.

There is also a brawl over compensation and service level agreements involving millions of dollars, payout clauses and other matters over which Mr. Diprose is more than a tad crabby. Mr. Diprose is also disaffected because he was offered $250,000 for his share in May and it is now worth $800,000. Why be disaffected? Surely, if he strings the settlement negations out — or finds a comma missing in an allegedly final contract, if he has already signed up — he could stick in there until his share reaches seven figures or more, such is the upward potential of this pot of gold the government has seemingly so readily endorsed. Dippy should get a lawyer, quickly, but he would be wise to give John White a miss!

The next question to ask is who are these entrepreneurs and what do they offer in terms of relevant skills, credibility and background?

Well, the only one I know much about is John White. I shall seek to be entirely dispassionate in my analysis and state at the outset that he has always impressed me — and those in the rather shady milieu within which I operate — as a total bloody dill. As a lawyer for many years he lacked distinction and as a politician for many years he also — er — lacked distinction. A pallid little turkey, quick enough on the uptake — if you give him plenty of time — and amiable in a furtive sort of way but not the sort of bloke you would have behind you if the Apaches were coming over the hill. 

He’s not a bad bloke

He would have his feather and war paint on in a flash. He is also the bloke who took a stand on coffee roasting in Battery Point, probably because the smell of it may have pervaded his undies when they were hanging out to dry. Fair enough too — it’s not pukka for a bloke to be poncing around the Point with his jocks reeking of a pungent mix of beans from high in the Andes. You wouldn’t know how those little Incas fertilise their crops.

No, I joke. He’s not a bad bloke and I would much rather be with him than with an awful lot of others I can think of. And frankly, good on him for organising a further little nest egg for himself for the years to come when he sits in his rocking chair on the verandah   and dreams of those days of yore when he cleaned up as a result of his association with the Tasmanian Compliance Corporation. I would happily join him on that verandah when I came to town and bring a few bickies to dip in our warm milk. I would probably also hit him for a couple of bucks while I was there.

Mr. Milliner however is another kettle of rabbits. I know nothing about him at all but I did look him up. He is Glen Milliner and he was a Labor member of the Queensland parliament from 1977 to 1992 and a minister in various portfolios over that period. He plays bowls which is encouraging because bowlers tend to be pretty solid types. The sort of blokes who enjoy the game, shower in separate cubicles, have a couple of jugs and then toddle off home to the little woman. Nothing lascivious about that, is there? He wouldn’t have picked up anything nasty from those crooks on the other side of the house — Hinze, Lane and other such lowlife. They would have been too busy grassing up the cops.

I’m putting in a bid for Treasury

So, what is all the fuss about? Three blokes with a bit of get up and go did just that — got up and went for a legitimate quid — and two of them being former politicians, one of them a lawyer, the trio took a proposition to the Tasmanian government. They no doubt reminded the government of their credibility, their political kinship and their readiness to kick the tin for the next party raffle. They would also have explained that they had this great idea how they could relieve the government of the irritating burden of building industry compliance at a modest profit to themselves. The government said it was apples — after all, what’s mateship all about if you can’t give the nod to a mate — so go for your lives. Simple as that and both parties would have sunk a stubby or two to seal the deal.

The government save a modest quid; the trio are hauling in a huge quid; and the building industry is no doubt wondering what in the bloody hell they did to deserve this. C’est la vie.

I have no news as to what happened to the bureaucrats who were previously looking after the building industry compliance function — probably an eighteen year old trainee and her boss, a Grade 2 clerk — but I’m sure they have been re-allocated to their advantage.

As for me, I’m putting in a bid for the Treasury.

And as a postscript I note that the Liberal Opposition justice spokesman, Michael Hodgman has declared that he has “… grave concerns about the credibility conduct of the TCC”. I think that is the very first time that I could describe my friend Hodgman as being guilty of under-statement.

Nick Evers

So, what is all the fuss about? Three blokes with a bit of get up and go did just that — got up and went for a legitimate quid — and two of them being former politicians, one of them a lawyer, the trio took a proposition to the Tasmanian government. They no doubt reminded the government of their credibility, their political kinship and their readiness to kick the tin for the next party raffle. They would also have explained that they had this great idea how they could relieve the government of the irritating burden of building industry compliance at a modest profit to themselves. The government said it was apples — after all, what’s mateship all about if you can’t give the nod to a mate — so go for your lives. Simple as that and both parties would have sunk a stubby or two to seal the deal.