NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has resigned after being found to have brazenly misled ICAC about a $3,000 gift, yet according to PM Tony Abbott it's all a sign of his great "honour and integrity". Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones tries to reconcile these events.
OLDER READERS might recall a sub-theme of DC’s Superman comics involved a planet called Bizzaro World, also known as Htrae, where everything was the opposite to Earth.
The planet was cubed – not round – and ruled by the Bizarro Code, whose adherents’ credo was:
'Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!'
In this world, repressive right-wing vandals are referred to as Liberals and small town parochials as Nationals.
In this world, the prime minister, who came to power on the back of a series of major pre-election lies, claims liars are honourable.
But there seems to have been some shift in the universe — Earth and Htrae are changing places.
According to Prime Minister Abbott (or is that Ttobba?), NSW Premier Until Next Week Barry O’Farrell and former Assistant Treasurer (!) Arthur Sinodinos are both good guys — even though neither can remember a thing.
Happily, ICAC’s Watson SC remained firmly grounded on Earth and was – when needful – able to jog their faulty memories.
Barry’s memory got quite a jolt when a thank-you note he had written to AWH managing director Nick Di Girolomo for a vintage bottle of Penfolds was presented by Watson.
Oh, that note.
Up until then, Barry had denied any knowledge of the wine, despite a courier invoice showing it had been delivered to his home.
Musta been nicked, speculated Barry.
After Barry was sprung by ICAC, Ttobba stepped up:
“I have enormous respect and admiration for Premier Barry O’Farrell. I’ve known Barry for two decades, he’s been a friend of mine throughout that time."
According to Ynot, it was all just an innocent misunderstanding:
"Obviously as we now know he innocently, inadvertently, misled ICAC yesterday and he has taken the utterly honourable step of resigning today."
O'Farrell's acts in accepting $3,000 bottles of wine, denying he ever received them in a corruption hearing and then resigning when he was found, in short order, to be lying through his teeth was an incredibly ethical display, according to the PM:
“We are seeing an act of integrity and honour, the likes of which we have rarely seen in Australian politics.”
He went on to call O'Farrell a "man of great honour".
Of course, Ttobba also called Senator Arthur Sinodinos a "man of great of integrity" and "honourable" before and after he was forced to stand aside as assistant treasurer over his links to Eddie Obeid and alleged corruption.
Back on Earth, O’Farrell had nowhere left to go; he had no choice. He’d been shown to have been swimming in the same rank cesspit as Di Girolomo and his Liberal Party associates.
How, exactly, does the PM know O’Farrell’s misleading of ICAC was innocent and inadvertent?
It doesn’t read that way.
It reads as a deliberate attempt to mislead the Commission to cover corrupt collusion.
But according to Ttobba any suggestion of that is baseless smear:
Neither Barry nor Arthur knew anything about the thousands shunted from AWH to the Liberal Party — especially not the truckloads that poured into the NSW branch coffers just before the March 2011 election.
The question ICAC should now pursue is how far the rot has set in at the Coalition. We know Sinodinos, a man at the very heart of the whole ideological Liberal thing, has a cloud over him the size of Texas.
We know Liberal Party fundraisers – providers of the life-blood – are in it up to their necks.
We know the Liberal Party Premier of NSW is in deep shit.
We know from Ashbygate the depths to which adherents to the Liberal philosophy will stoop in the exercise of power..
Meanwhile, back on Htrae…
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
BREAKING - BARRY O'FARRELL UNABLE TO RECALL RESIGNING AS PREMIER— John Johnsonson (@JohnJohnsonson) April 16, 2014