The Significance of the Heiner Affair to the Rule of Law in Queensland



Kevin Lindeberg was educated at Maryborough Boys High School in Queensland, and holds an Associate Diploma in Industrial Relations from Brisbane College of Advanced Education (1988). He lives in Capalaba, a southside suburb of Brisbane. He is married and has three children, with his eldest son now studying law at Griffith University. Kevin is a former Queensland public sector trade union organiser who now works as a freelance political cartoonist/caricaturist/illustrator while he continues his quest for justice in the Heiner Affair.

He previously pursued a career as a musical comedy/opera baritone singer in Brisbane, Sydney and London. In Brisbane he performed with the Queensland Light Opera Company. In Sydney he played the leading roles in Oklahoma and The Sentimental Bloke, and, inter alia, performed with the London Philharmonia Chorus under Maestro Ricardo Muti in London’s Southbank. He takes a great interest in criminal, administrative and constitutional law, recordkeeping, pioneer aviators, classical music and current affairs, and was, for a time in the early 70s, a public forum speaker on the Sydney Domain.

During his time in London, having previously unveiled a plaque on famous aviator Bert Hinkler’s Southampton home in June 1974 — by the request of pioneer aviation historian and friend Mr Ted Wixted of the Queensland Museum, with the aid of the University of Southampton and Queensland’s Agent-General — he later carried out a one-man campaign for several years to prevent its threatened demolition by the Southampton City Council to make way for a block of flats. His campaign forestalled its demolition. It allowed a specialist Bundaberg team, as part Australia’s 1988 Bicentennial Celebrations, to later transport the house back to Bundaberg around 1981 (after dismantling it brick by brick, wooden plank by plank, and then rebuilding it), to be a unique Australian museum open by Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson in June 1984. Kevin attended having returned to Australia. With the aid of a $7million government-grant, the Hinkler Musuem was greatly extended and opened in December 2008. Kevin also attended this ceremony.

In 1974, he organised a ceremony in Italy to present medallions to the Italians who found and removed Hinkler’s body from Mount Pratomagno near Florence in Tuscany in 1933. Kevin was greatly assisted by the Arezzo Aero Club President, Prince Amedeo di Savioa, Duke of Aosta, the present head of the Italian Royal Family. The medallions were presented by the Australian Ambassador to Italy, His Excellency, the Hon John Ryan.

In 1990, Kevin was a senior organiser with the Queensland public service trade union, the Queensland Professional Officers’ Association (QPOA). Its members were professional and technical Queensland public servants and TAFE teachers. This job took him into the corridors of power of the Queensland Government. He challenged the Goss Queensland Government’s shredding of the Heiner Inquiry documents in February/March 1990 and was dismissed in May 1990, one reason being his handling of ‘the Coyne case’. He fought back. He took his public interest disclosure to the Criminal Justice Commission in 1990. This whistleblowing episode on the shredding has been categorised as one of Australia’s five most important cases by Whistleblowers Australia. The Heiner Affair is now the subject of lectures in universities throughout Australia and globally, and was recommended by Queensland Education in 2009 to be studied as an OP/HSC topic by Years 11 and 12 students in all Queensland secondary schools. In May 2004 it also featured in the ABC’s Australian Story “Three Little Words” (a.k.a. They’ve been shredded). In February 1999, it featured on Channel 9’s Sunday, as “Queensland’s Secret Shame.”

It now features in at least four academic books published in Australia and the United States. It has been categorised by the international archives community in 2001 as one of the 20th century’s 14 great shredding scandals in the world. It has been publicly categorised by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (“APRA”) as a “high profile corruption scandal” standing alongside Enron/Arthur Anderson, HIH and McCabe. In late 2009, Kevin was commissioned by the Records Management Association of Australasia to write a major article on the Heiner Affair focussing on the extraordinary role of the Queensland State Archivist in the Affair and because of its relevance to modern 21st century records management in government and private enterprise. This article is due to be published around the end of February 2010, and shall be available via the internet.

The Heiner Affair, also known as “Shreddergate”, already enjoys significant coverage on the internet. It was regularly and courageously reported on by the University of Queensland School of Journalism’s student newspaper “The Weekend Independent” and “The Independent Monthly” by editor and lecturer Associate Professor Bruce Grundy and his journalism students. Since 2007, it has been regularly covered by Sydney journalist, Piers Akerman, and Kevin has been interviewed regularly by leading Australian broadcaster, Alan Jones. Kevin has lectured senior public administration students at Queensland University, delivered papers to The Samuel Griffith Society and the Sydney Branch of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy in 2005, written prize winning articles and has become quite knowledgeable on constitutional affairs.

He has appeared before Senate and House of Representatives Committees. In 2003/04, the House of Representatives Standing Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, chaired by the Hon Bronwyn Bishop, investigated the Heiner Affair. The August 2004 Bishop Report recommended that all members of the Goss Cabinet be charged over the offence of destroying evidence, and that a Special Prosecutor be appointed to investigate the alleged ‘systemic cover-up.’

Due to his constant, determined fight for justice over the last 20 years, what was publicly unknown but always known about inside government has become known. The contagion of the cover-up has spread. This Affair now reaches from a dreadful pack-rape scene deep in the Australian bush, to behind the walls of a Youth Detention Centre, to the Queensland Cabinet room, to Queensland’s Parliament, to Government House Queensland, to our Federal Parliament in Canberra, to Yarralumla and to Buckingham Palace in London. Kevin now enjoys the support of some of this nation’s most eminent jurists.

It is fair to say that the local and national mainstream media has not covered this story as a democracy might righly expect, and that itself raises serious questions about the real health of our democracy.

Kevin Lindeberg believes that this matter is not just his fight for justice and upholding the principle of government by the rule of law but a fight for any and everyone who believes that no one ought be above the law in Australia, and that government by the rule of law must prevail.

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