Alan Griffiths

Alan Gordon Griffiths (born 4 September 1952), is a former Australian politician who represented the Division of Maribyrnong for the Australian Labor Party from March 1983 to January 1996. Griffiths was a senior Minister in the Hawke and Keating governments and is now a businessman and non-executive director.[1] Griffiths specialises in commercialising new technologies, including the road alignment software, Quantm, which has been used on Australasian, US and Asian infrastructure projects.[2]

Alan Griffiths
Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development
In office
24 March 1993  22 January 1994
Prime MinisterPaul Keating
Preceded byJohn Button
Succeeded byPeter Cook
Minister for Tourism
In office
27 December 1991  24 March 1993
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded byRos Kelly
Succeeded byMichael Lee
Minister for Resources
In office
4 April 1990  24 March 1993
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded byPeter Cook
Succeeded byMichael Lee
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Maribyrnong
In office
5 March 1983  29 January 1996
Preceded byMoss Cass
Succeeded byBob Sercombe
Personal details
Born (1952-09-04) 4 September 1952
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLabor
Alma materMonash University

Early life

Born in Melbourne, Griffiths was one of 11 children, raised in Traralgon in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria. He understood what it meant to struggle, leaving home at 14 and entering the workforce as a scaffolder and rigger.[3] Griffiths subsequently worked in a variety of jobs before entering politics, including as a taxi driver, political adviser and lawyer.[4] At one point he worked as a powder monkey in the South Australian desert [5]

Griffiths showed early entrepreneurial flair. In the early 1970s, while working in a shipyard, he raffled his first pay cheque, selling tickets to workmates and earning well above the value of his wage.[3]

By 20 he was married and a father to two girls and, although he had left school early, Griffiths was determined to have an education.[3] He entered university on a scholarship and worked as a taxi driver to support his family while he studied.[3]

Griffiths graduated from Monash University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Laws.[6]

Griffiths' first contact with politics came in the early 1980s, when he worked in the office of former New South Wales Premier, Neville Wran, before being elected to the Federal seat of Maribyrnong in 1983.[3]

Political career

Ministries held

Entering the parliament in 1983, Griffiths became the Minister for Resources in 1990, the Minister for Tourism in 1991 and the Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development in 1993.

It was reported that in just two years in the Resources portfolio, Griffiths "pushed through reforms in a staggering number of areas. Resource rent taxes, expanded offshore oil exploration, quarantine and inspection, food quality, national power supply policies and forest development are but a few of the reforms".[5] Griffiths was also quoted as favouring "sensible economic development" and saying that Australia "needs a development ethic".[5]

During his time in the Tourism portfolio, Griffiths urged more private investment in tourism infrastructure if Australia was to grow as a major tourist destination.[7] He said the Australian Tourist Commission would focus on promoting Australia as a destination for travelers with special interests in sport, the environment, culture, arts, food and wine and that the Commonwealth Department of Tourism was examining ways to give tourists more opportunities to enjoy Aboriginal culture.[7]

At the time of his appointment to the Industry portfolio, Griffiths was described as "the big winner out of Paul Keating's ministerial reshuffle".[4] While in this portfolio, the development of Australia's regional areas was a key focus, including the establishment of the Task Force on Regional Development, which visited 60 regions across Australia to hear community ideas for local development.[8] The Task Force, which was instructed to examine the differing effects of industry and economic structural change between regions, was led by the then ACTU Secretary, Bill Kelty and reported back to Griffiths in December 1993.[8]

Committee Service

Griffiths was a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Privileges from 1983 to 1984, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee from 1987 to 1990 and the Industry, Science and Technology Committee from 1994 to 1996. Griffiths also served on the Joint Statutory National Crime Authority Committee from 1984 to 1987 and the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform from 1983 to 1984.[9]

As Chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in 1989, Griffiths headed a government inquiry into insider trading. Griffiths told the media at the time that anecdotal evidence suggested there was a wide spectrum of involvement in areas of insider trading in the business community and it was therefore incumbent upon governments to ensure they took whatever steps were available to prevent that sort of business behavior.[10]

Griffiths also chaired a Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry into progress made towards the achievement of equal opportunity and equal status for Australian women, to mark the fifth anniversary of the enactment of the Sex Discrimination Act in Australia.

Griffiths said at the outset of the inquiry that "anyone who takes seriously the issue of the status of women and opportunities for women in Australian society, will concede readily that vis-a-vis the male of the species, they are, in most areas, at something of a disadvantage. It's a moot point of course, the extent to which legislation can change the objective circumstances and the subtle forms of discrimination that they face, but certainly very few people with an interest in the area would argue that you shouldn't have things like sex discrimination legislation and affirmative action legislation".[11]

Griffiths went on to say that while more opportunities were opening up for women, the inquiry wanted to find ways "to ensure that the Parliament has an ongoing role in trying to bring about...the impetus for change".[11]

Conferences and Delegations

Member, Parliamentary Delegation to the European Parliamentary Institutions, Strasbourg, Brussels and the Federal Republic of Germany, September 1986.[12] Official visits to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, December 1990; Bali, February 1991; Papua New Guinea, April 1991; Italy, France, Poland, USSR and UK, July 1991; Tahiti, Chile and USA, October–November 1991; Hong Kong and Japan, March–April 1992; New Zealand, April 1992; Brazil and USA, June 1992; Spain, UK and USA, July 1992; Indonesia and Singapore, September–October 1992; Taiwan and Hong Kong, October–November 1992; Indonesia, November 1992; Vietnam, December 1992; Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong, June–July 1993; Indonesia, September 1993; Japan and China, October–November 1993.[12] Member, Parliamentary Delegation to USA and Canada, March–April 1995.[12]

Sandwich Shop Affair

In 1994, Griffiths resigned as Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development after the "Sandwich Shop Affair" came to light. It was alleged that ALP funds, resources and staff wages from Griffiths' electoral office were used to bail out his business partner from a failed sandwich shop venture in Melbourne's Moonee Ponds.[13] An inquiry by the former head of the Department of Prime Minister, Mike Codd, into the scandal cleared Griffiths of any wrongdoing.[14] Griffiths was also cleared of any wrongdoing by the Australian Federal Police, who were alerted to the matter by Griffiths.[15] Despite being cleared by the Codd inquiry – an investigation which Griffiths had also requested – he announced at the Victorian ALP Conference in April 1995 that he would not contest the 1996 election, which Labor lost. In his resignation speech, Griffiths acknowledged the allegations had taken "a lot of momentum out of my career". But he had waited for "total vindication" before declaring his resignation. "I am in the happy situation of being totally vindicated," he told the media at the time. "I spoke to the Prime Minister this morning who I might say tried to talk me out of announcing my resignation and who confirmed his previous public commitment that I would return to the Cabinet as soon as possible. But there is life after politics, and I intend to pursue life after politics."[15] In a statement, then prime minister Paul Keating praised Griffiths' contribution to the parliament and the cabinet from the time of his election in 1983. "It has always been my expectation and hope that the current inquiry into those matters will clear Alan Griffiths of any wrongdoing," Keating said. "Alan Griffiths would have had sufficient support among his parliamentary colleagues to return to the ministry in due course. I would certainly have welcomed his return to Cabinet."[15] At the time, Codd had offered to give the prime minister an interim report which could have cleared the way for Griffiths to make an early return to the Cabinet. But the prime minister declined, preferring to await the final report which would take several more months.[14]

After politics


After leaving politics, Griffiths founded a technology company, Quantm, based on an advanced computer program developed by CSIRO [2] The technology generated huge savings on Australasian, US and Chinese infrastructure projects, according to a report in the respected regional journal The Far Eastern Economic review. For instance, it saved the California High-Speed Rail Authority $US4.8 billion on just part of its proposed 1,100 kilometre track. Quantm's online system is based on algorithms. It automates the process through which roads are designed and costed and presents the planner with a range of options.[2]

Griffiths, the majority owner and founder of Quantm, and the Quantm board in 2006 agreed to sell the company to an arm of a U.S. construction conglomerate, Trimble Navigation Ltd, for what was believed to be a multi-million dollar price tag to pursue other entrepreneurial business ventures, including a United Kingdom-based high technology business.[16] In early 2006, Quantm, as a leader in transport route optimisation, was selected by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) – Transportation Research Board as one of eight technologies enabling highway and railroad planners to successfully factor in environmental concerns in transportation decisions [17] Quantm, which by 2006 was already being used by 14 U.S. states, was chosen from a field of 70 technologies for the prestigious award [17]


Since 2010, Griffiths has been Executive Chairman of Shopitize based in the UK. The technology uses data from shopper dockets to provide FMCG companies with statistics that can help grow market share.[18] The Shopitize platform enables brands to better understand consumer spending habits across channels at the level of individual products and provide more targeted offers.[19]

Griffiths is a co-founder of Shopitize, with former banker Irina Pafomova, and former management consultant Dr. Alexey Andriyanenko. The technology platform is reported to have attracted significant funding from international investors.[19]

Other roles

In December 2010, Griffiths was appointed as a non-executive director of Guildford Coal Limited.[1]

In addition to his business activities since leaving politics, Griffiths has been involved in public policy and philanthropic work as a member of the President's Council of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.[20] [21][22]


  1. Guildford Coal Ltd, "Annual Report to Shareholders", 27 September 2011
  2. John McBeth, "Quantum's (sic) Leap to Riches", Far Eastern Economic Review, 19 September 2002
  3. A. Butcher, "Losing Sight of Summit", Herald Sun, 24 January 1994
  4. Nikki Savva, "Ex-rigger who aims to climb all the way", Herald Sun, 3 April 1993.
  5. S. Troeth and J. Larking, "Top of the Turks", Herald Sun, 18 Feb 1992, p.12
  6. In the news and on the move, Monash University, August 1996
  7. P. Skeggs, "Rooms Key to Tourism Boom", Herald Sun, 10 Jun 1992
  8. "Locals given a say", Herald Sun, 21 Dec 1993
  9. Parliament of Australia, Members and Senators Handbook
  10. 7.30 Report, ABC Television, 9 Feb 1989
  11. "Ring the Bells", ABC Television, 4 Aug 1989
  13. Maribyrnong Electorate Profile, Australia Votes 2004 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 8 November 2004.
  14. Tony Wright, "Sandwich Shop Affair: Griffiths 'cleared'", Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 1995.
  15. Paul Daley and Mark Forbes, "Griffith Quits Politics", The Sunday Age, 23 April 1995; Interview with Mr. Alan Griffiths 20 September 2011
  16. Reuters Significant Developments, "Trimble Navigation Limited acquires Quantm", 6 April 2006; interview Alan Griffiths, 20 September 2011
  17. ENP Newswire, "Quantm Honored by Transportation Research Board as Key Pro-Environment Technology", 26 January 2006
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. International Crisis Group, "Who supports Crisis Group?", accessed at Archived 7 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. Hopkins, Philip (10 May 2002). "Former rivals take Quantm to prominence". The Age. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  22. "Alan Griffiths". Executive Profile. Bloomberg. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Cook
Minister for Resources
Succeeded by
Michael Lee
Preceded by
Ros Kelly
Minister for Tourism
Preceded by
John Button
Minister for Industry, Technology
and Regional Development

Succeeded by
Peter Cook
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Moss Cass
Member for Maribyrnong
Succeeded by
Bob Sercombe
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