Brian Burke

Infobox Criminal
subject_name = Brian Burke


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date_of_birth = birth date and age|df=yes|1947|2|25
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occupation = Politician
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Brian Thomas Burke (born in Perth, 25 February 1947) was Labor premier of Western Australia from 25 February 1983 until his resignation on 25 February 1988. Burke was imprisoned for seven months in 1994, after being convicted of rorting travel expenses.cite web
url = http://www.theage.com.au/news/in-depth/the-strife-of-brian/2007/02/27/1172338625209.html
title = The strife of Brian
publisher = The Age
date = 2007-02-28
accessdate = 2007-07-26
] In following decades, Burke continued to maintain his Labor party contacts and parliamentary influence, using them to further his career as a pro-business lobbyist. Burke worked both sides of politics in partnership with disgraced former ministerial colleague Julian Grill and assisted by former senator, Noel Crichton-Browne, to influence Liberal parliamentarians. [E.g., ABC radio transcript " [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1854614.htm Fels sacked after moving a motion from disgraced former Senator] "]

Career

The son of federal Labor parliamentarian Tom Burke, Brian Burke started his career as a journalist, initially at the "West Australian" newspaper and later in radio and television. He entered politics in 1973, winning the Legislative Assembly seat of Balcatta at a by-election. [Hetherington, R. 'Prelude to the election' in G.S. Reid (ed.), "The Western Australian Elections 1974", University of Western Australia Department of Politics, Nedlands 1976] His elder brother Terry held the seat of Perth from 1968-1987.

In 1981, Brian Burke defeated Ron Davies to become opposition leader. [*cite web | title=History of the ALP (WA Branch) | url=http://www.wa.alp.org.au/about/history.html | accessdate=2006-12-20 At the February 1983 state election, at just 36 years of age, he became the state's 23rd premier (and its third youngest), ending almost nine years of conservative coalition government which had commenced under Sir Charles Court, and was completed by Ray O'Connor (1982-1983).

His premiership was characterised by very close associations with businessmen such as Laurie Connell and Alan Bond and arranging joint government and business deals. As a result of the 1987 stock market crash, major corporate collapses including that of Connell's merchant bank Rothwells unwound some of those deals which, in turn, caused major losses to the state. The corporate deals and the attempted government-sponsored rescue of Rothwells under next premier Peter Dowding were widely styled in media and civil society as "WA Inc", a term coined by prominent political science academic and author Patrick O'Brien whose book "The Burke Ambush" [O'Brien, P (ed.) "The Burke Ambush: Corporatism and Society in WA" Apollo Press, Nedlands 1986)] had clinically dissected and denounced Burke's excessively partial pro-corporate government.

Burke resigned as premier before the full extent of the deals and losses were known and went on to become Australia's ambassador to Ireland and the Holy See before being forced to resign as a result of allegations of improper conduct during his time as premier.

As a result of the allegations, the WA Inc royal commission was established in 1990, and led to Burke being charged with various offences for which he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. He served seven months in jail in 1994 for travel expense rorts before being released on parole. In March 1997 he was sentenced to three years' jail for stealing $122,585 in campaign donations. He served six months before the convictions were quashed on appeal. He was stripped of his honour as a Companion of the Order of Australia.cite news | last=Ramsey | first=Alan | date=2006-07-20 | title=A role in the fall of a Labor mate conveniently omitted from the eulogies | publisher=Sydney Morning Herald | url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/a-role-in-the-fall-of-a-labor-mate-conveniently-omitted-from-theeulogies/2005/07/19/1121538972499.html | accessdate=2005-11-30

Burke has since been active as a consultant and lobbyist for Western Australian business interests. His continued involvement in state Labor branch politics has been a subject of controversy since Labor returned to power in 2001. Former Premier Geoff Gallop banned cabinet ministers from contact with Burke, but this was lifted by his successor Alan Carpenter when he took office in February 2006. Burke is an old family friend of former federal Labor party leader Kim Beazley, who was forced to distance himself from the former premier.

In November 2005, Burke's daughter Sarah Burke ran for the presidency of the state Labor party. She expressed interest in standing as the party's candidate for the federal seat of Cowan when Labor MP Graham Edwards announced that he would not recontest the seat in 2007.

Brian Burke and the Corruption and Crime Commission

On 9 November 2006, Burke was forced to quit the Labor party in disgrace following calls from Labor premier Alan Carpenter, in part due to evidence provided to the Corruption and Crime Commission. cite news | date=2006-11-09 | title=Former WA premier to quit ALP | publisher=The Australian | url=http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20728716-1702,00.html | accessdate=2006-12-20

Norm Marlborough MLA, the Minister for Small Business and the South-west, was forced to resign on 20 February 2007 after the Corruption and Crime Commission revealed he had kept a "secret mobile phone" to stay in touch with Mr Burke. [http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2006/s1804392.htm Burke attacks the Corruption Commission] [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1852567.htm WA corruption commission investigates ex-premier Burke]

On 25 February 2007, Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter asked Tony McRae to resign from the state cabinet due to his involvement in Brian Burke scandals. [http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s1857836.htm WA minister caught in corruption scandal]

On 27 February 2007, MLA John Bowler agreed to resign from the State Government Ministry after revelations of his dealings with Brian Burke and Julian Grill surfaced at hearings being held by the Corruption and Crime Commission in Perth. [http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200702/s1858666.htm WA Minister sacked over corruption inquiry evidence] [http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s1858712.htm Fourth WA minister falls to commission inquiry]

On 1 March 2007, Shire of Busselton President Kevin Douglas resigned, stating that the council had come under the influence of Brian Burke. [http://www.abc.net.au/southwestwa/stories/s1795990.htm Former Busselton Shire President explains resignation]

On 25 January 2008, Western Australian Department of Health Director-general Neale Fong resigned after the Corruption and Crime Commission found that he engaged in "serious misconduct" in his relationship with Brian Burke. [http://www.ccc.wa.gov.au/media_statements.php?id=132 CCC report on investigation into allegations against Director General of Health]

Kevin Rudd and Campbell controversies

During 2005 Burke had three meetings with current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who was at the time opposition spokesperson for foreign affairs. [cite web|url=http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s1860887.htm|title=Rudd under fire over Burke meetings|accessdate=2008-02-18] . At this time the Western Australian Premier had in place a ban on Labor Ministers from contacting Brian Burke. He also attended a meeting with the then federal environment minister, Senator Ian Campbell. The former event led to a scathing attack on Rudd's character by former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello, causing the latter event to be exposed by the media. The attack backfired, forcing the resignation of Senator Campbell from the cabinet and loss of his ministerial portfolio. Soon after, he resigned from the Parliament [ [http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/05/31/1939095.htm ABC News report, 31 May 2007] ]

Emails leaked in February 2008 revealed Burke arranged a fourth dinner with Rudd. Rudd accepted the invitation, but backed out because of a supposed scheduling conflict. It turned out that he was able to attend the dinner, but chose not to attend. [cite web|url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/02/17/1203190653976.html|title=My white lie: how Rudd dodged his date with Brian Burke|accessdate=2008-02-18|date=2008-02-18] [cite web|url=http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23232945-1702,00.html|title=Rudd 'coulda, shoulda' on Burke dinner|accessdate=2008-02-18|date=2008-02-18]

External links

* [http://www.ccentre.wa.gov.au/index.cfm?event=premiersBrianburke Constitutional Centre biographical entry]
* [http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/publications/publications.nsf/inquiries+and+commissions?openpage Western Australian Government Commissions of Inquiry]
* [http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200602/s1562558.htm ABC News: Burke a 'highly successful premier']

References


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