Eric Roozendaal

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The Honourable
Eric Roozendaal
MLC
Member of Legislative Council of New South Wales
In office
24 June 2004 – 9 May 2013
Treasurer of New South Wales
In office
8 September 2008 – 28 March 2011
Premier Nathan Rees
Kristina Keneally
Preceded by Michael Costa
Succeeded by Mike Baird
Personal details
Born (1962-03-16) 16 March 1962 (age 52)
Sydney, New South Wales
Political party Australian Labor Party (suspended in 2012 pending outcome of ICAC inquiry)
Spouse(s) Amanda Labi (separated)[1]
Alma mater University of Sydney,
Macquarie University
Website NSW Parliament - Eric Roozendaal

Eric Roozendaal (born 16 March 1962), a former Australian politician, was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, serving between 2004 and 2013.[1] He is a former General Secretary of the Australian Labor Party. Roozendaal was the Treasurer of New South Wales, Minister of State and Regional Development, Minister of Ports and Waterways, Minister for the Illawarra, and Special Minister of State in the Rees and Keneally governments.[2]

Early career[edit]

Roozendaal was born in Sydney. His family is of Dutch-Jewish descent, his grandfather perishing in Auschwitz during the Holocaust.[3][dead link] He studied Commerce at the University of Sydney, but did not complete the course.[4] He would later graduate from Macquarie University with a combined degree in Arts and Law (BA LLB). He became an organiser for the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party in 1987, Assistant General Secretary in 1995 and General Secretary in 1999. This made him the organisation head of the dominant Labor Right faction of the party's largest state branch, a powerful position. He was also a member of the National Executive of the Party.

Roozendaal was campaign director for Premier Bob Carr's successful election campaign in 2003. He was also the party's chief fund-raiser, raising a reported A$16.3 million in his four years as General Secretary. He also carried out a crackdown on branch stacking and insisted on the selection of more female candidates in safe Labor seats.[5]

During 2003, Roozendaal was criticised by using internal party polling to destabilise Simon Crean, the then Leader of the Opposition.[6] Roozendaal was also Labor's New South Wales campaign manager at the 2004 federal election.

Political career[edit]

In 2004 Roozendaal was appointed to a vacancy in the Legislative Council, succeeding Tony Burke following Burke's election to the Australian House of Representatives. Roozendaal was immediately appointed chair of the Standing Committee on State Development,[7] and then in August 2005 he was appointed Minister for Ports and Waterways, and in February 2006 he was promoted to Minister for Roads. Following the 2007 election, Roozendaal was also appointed Minister for Commerce in addition to his Roads portfolio.

Despite criticisms, Roozendaal was promoted to Treasurer by incoming Premier Nathan Rees,[4] with immediate responsibilities for producing a 2008 mini-budget and maintaining the State's credit rating.[8]

Roozendaal has described himself as a "rev head", due to his love of V8 Supercars. He was an advocate for transforming Sydney Olympic Park into a V8 Supercar circuit.[9]

Suspended from the Labor Party in November 2012, Roozendaal resigned from the Legislative Council on 9 May 2013, in advance of his term that was due to expire in March 2019.[10][11][1]

Controversies[edit]

As Roads Minister, Roozendaal was embarrassed for being caught illegally travelling in a Sydney bus lane in his motor vehicle,[12] and for dumping a promise to widen the problematic Spit Bridge just two months after the State election.[13] He was also against cyclists using roads during busy times, saying it was "not helpful" for cyclists to ride in peak-hour traffic.[14]

In 2010, Roozendaal was accused of wasting taxpayers' money after he took two trips to New York at a cost of almost A$100,000. Roozendaal claimed the trips were designed to reinforce New South Wales' AAA credit rating through meetings with Moody's and Standard & Poor's, even though both companies had representatives in Australia that Roozendaal could have met with.[15]

Also in 2010, online e-zine Crikey published claims by Federal MP Julia Irwin that Roozendaal (who has publicly professed his Dutch-Jewish heritage) and Labor Party power broker Mark Arbib had insisted on vetting or censoring any speech she made relating to Palestine.[16]

In 2010 and 2011, Roozendaal was criticised for the deal he brokered, as Treasurer of New South Wales, to privatise some of the NSW Government's electricity assets; the retail branches of Integral Energy and Country Energy were sold to Origin Energy in December 2010. In December 2010 and January 2011, members of the NSW Legislative Council attempted to hold an inquiry into the sale. However, directors of the companies involved refused to attend hearings after the Parliament of New South Wales was prorogued with the effect that directors would not have the protection of parliamentary privilege while giving evidence.[17] The sale, unpopular with Labor's affiliate Unions NSW, was criticised by various union leaders and several called for Roozendaal to be sacked.[18] As a result of the sale, subsequent issues relating to the inquiry and additional concerns relating to wage negotiations for public servants, several union leaders called on the Labor Party to move Roozendaal to an un-winnable position on the Party's Legislative Council ticket for the NSW election in March 2011.[19][20] In February 2011, Premier Kristina Keneally announced that plans to privatise other electricity assets had been cancelled but promised support for Roozendaal.[18][21]

In 2012, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) commenced an investigation into allegations of corruption involving Roozendaal, Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald. A public inquiry heard allegations that Roozendaal was given an A$10,800 discount on a car. Roozendaal told the ICAC that Moses Obeid, a son of Eddie Obeid, helped facilitate the car purchase by introducing him to a car dealer, but that this was to secure a discount rather than an inappropriate benefit. The ICAC has suggested that the deal was "covered up" by various transfers of ownership. Roozendaal told the ICAC he had simply forgotten to transfer the registration to his wife's name.[22] Opposition Leader John Robertson has asked Labor's general secretary to suspend Roozendaal from the party until the ICAC makes its findings.[23] Following his appearance at the inquiry, in February 2013 Roozendaal announced that he would be separating from his wife of 15 years.[1][11][24]

Announcing his resignation to the Legislative Council on 9 May 2013, Roozendaal used his farewell speech to criticise Labor over the failure of power privatisation - an issue he said had dogged the labour movement for almost two decades.[11] By resigning before the ICAC hands down its findings, Roozendaal avoids any possibility of charges which might arise out of the ICAC proceedings affecting his life-time indexed pension of about A$120,000 per year.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Coultan, Mark (9 May 2013). "Former minister Eric Roozendaal quits NSW parliament with a parting swipe at Labor". The Australian. AAP. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Hon. Eric Michael ROOZENDAAL, BA LLB MLC". Members of the Legislative Council. Parliament of New South Wales. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  3. ^ http://ajn.com.au/news/news.asp?pgID=6225[dead link]
  4. ^ a b Salusinszky, Imre (8 September 2008). "Drop-out Eric Roozendaal at home on figures". The Australian. Retrieved 9 September 2008. 
  5. ^ Norington, Brad (19 March 2004). "Roozendaal to quit hot seat". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  6. ^ Brown, Matt (2 June 2003). "Labor MP accuses NSW branch of hostility to Crean" (transcript). The World Today (Australia: ABC News). 
  7. ^ Nicholls, Sean (30 June 2004). "Newest MP finds there's a steep earning curve". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  8. ^ "No surprises: Roozendaal in, Costa out". ABC News (Australia). 8 September 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2008. 
  9. ^ Clennell, Andrew (30 September 2008). "Why the V8 Supercars will be taxpayer-injected". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  10. ^ Foschia, Liz (9 May 2013). "Roozendaal quits NSW Parliament". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Nicholls, Sean (9 May 2013). "Eric Roozendaal calls it quits". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Baker, Jordan (31 May 2007). "Roozendaal's roads record a comedy of errors". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  13. ^ Sikora, Kate (2 May 2007). "Spit Bridge plan ditched". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). 
  14. ^ Brown, Malcolm (10 May 2008). "Cyclists dispute driver's account". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 September 2008. 
  15. ^ Clennell, Andrew (30 June 2010). "NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal spent $100,000 on two trips to New York". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  16. ^ Loewenstein, Antony (10 August 2010). "Departing ALP member tells of deep Zionist influence in party". Crikey (Private Media Pty Limited). Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  17. ^ Hayes, Isabel (24 December 2010). "Keneally lied to public: O'Farrell". Nine News (NineMSN Pty Limited). AAP. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  18. ^ a b Salusinszky, Imre (27 January 2011). "Keneally backs Treasurer after attack". The Australian. 
  19. ^ Clennell, Andrew (26 January 2011). "Minister Eric Roozendaal cops a union upper cut". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). 
  20. ^ Smith, Alexandra (31 January 2011). "Another union boss dumps on State Labor". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  21. ^ "Eric Roozendaal faces his darkest power hour". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). 2 February 2011. 
  22. ^ Besser, Linton; McClymont, Kate (6 November 2012). "'I don't see why I have to be responsible': Roozendaal fronts up to corruption probe". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  23. ^ Gerathy, Sarah (8 November 2012). "Labor suspends Roozendaal over corruption claims". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  24. ^ Foschia, Liz (27 February 2013). "ICAC MP sells house after splitting from wife". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 9 May 2013. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Unknown
Minister for Ports and Waterways
2005–2006
Succeeded by
Joe Tripodi
Preceded by
Joe Tripodi
Minister for Roads
2006–2008
Succeeded by
Michael Daley
Preceded by
John Della Bosca
Minister for Commerce
2007–2008
Succeeded by
Carmel Tebbutt
Preceded by
Michael Costa
Treasurer of New South Wales
2008–2011
Succeeded by
Mike Baird
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Della Bosca
NSW Secretary of the Australian Labor Party
1999–2004
Succeeded by
Mark Arbib