IF THERE is a political stain that has become more repugnant than the stain on Monica Lewinsky’s cocktail dress, it is the stain left on Australian politics by corruption allegations.
We all remember the corruption allegations scandal that helped bring down the NSW Labor government.
Now we have a Coalition Government in NSW and things have gotten even worse. Much worse.
After not even one term in government, the Coalition in NSW has been exposed as the most corrupt government in our nation’s history.
So far, the revelations uncovered by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has seen nine Coalition MPs resign or say they won’t stand again. It has even seen the resignation of former Premier, Barry O’Farrell. Actually, the Liberal Party in NSW has seen both leaders of the upper and lower houses of parliament stand down over evidence that has surfaced at ICAC hearings.
These are just the MPs that have fallen on their sword. There are many others such as former Attorney-General, Greg Smith and the factional power man, David Clarke, whose names have surfaced but have not yet had the decency to stand down or give a reasonable explanation.
New Premier, Mike Baird, was in the top job for less than 24 hours before, as yet, unexplained allegations of undisclosed donations from dodgy sources arose, as well as cushy appointments given to a campaign donor. It seems that there is nobody in the NSW Liberal Party that is untouched by this scandal.
The evidence that has been raised at ICAC in NSW has revolved around lobbyists, dodgy campaign donations, jobs for the boys, and people buying influence.
Little wonder Joe Hockey got all upset when Fairfax ran the headline:
Heaven forbid that anyone would get the wrong impression of Joe!
Charging $22,000 for access to the Treasurer would clearly have nothing to do with buying influence! It is surely due to Joe’s charming personality! Indeed, if we looked into it, people were surely paying $22,000 to chat with Joe when he was just a back-bencher, or even before he became a politician!
Hockey is now suing Fairfax for the string of articles that put his actions under the microscope — a microscope that was only meant for Labor MPs.
ICAC has also seen two Federal members of parliament have their names dragged through the mud.
The electorate of Dobell has brought about yet another tainted vote in the form of Karen McNamara who has been accused of electoral fraud. She has also been linked with a slush fund and trust account that was used to launder illegal political donations and clean them up for disgraced NSW Liberal, Chris Hartcher.
Our former Federal Assistant Treasurer, Arthur Sinodinos, was forced to resign from his position after being dragged into ICAC to explain his role in the Australia Water Holdings corruption scandal and his intended $20 million pay-day.
Who can forget the Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Senator Fiona Nash?
Nash was censured in parliament after being found to have misled parliament in relation to her appointment of a lobbyist for the junk food industry, Alastair Furnival, as her Chief of Staff. Given that Nash is the Assistant Health Minister, this was always going to be an issue once discovered.
The conflict of interest scandal broke after Furnival and Nash shut down a new healthy food ratings website that was going to see Furnival’s clients cop a negative rating.
Furnival was also involved in lobbying for Cadbury so they could score hand-outs from the taxpayer via the Tasmanian Liberal Government.
Most would remember when SPC Ardmona were hoping for government assistance in order to save jobs and the resultant usual Liberal lies about unions and greedy employees. That was at the same time Employment Minister, Senator Eric Abetz, was trying to justify a hand-out of $16 million to the foreign-owned junk food giant, Cadbury.
Speaking of Tony Abbott, we have also seen the man responsible for his personal campaign funding, John Caputo, dragged through ICAC and emerge not looking too flash.
On top of that, we have seen the man in charge of the Federal Liberal Party’s fundraising, Paul Nicolaou, who is a lobbyist for the alcohol and gambling industry, called before ICAC with disturbing allegations.
Even today, new allegations have emerged of questionable funding from extremely questionable friends.
It seems the proceeds of organised crime may have found their way into the Liberal Party coffers.
The front-page investigation by Fairfax Media has revealed that one of the hosts of the "Bruce Campaign Fundraising Dinner”, who helped bankroll the Liberal Party’s campaign for the marginal Victorian seat, is a Mafia kingpin and suspected Godfather. Police had described the man in court as allegedly involved in "murder, gunshot wounding and arson" and has been named as the suspected hit-man at two coronial inquests.
Nice, just the kind of guy we like to see our politicians owing favours to.
We have also seen over the last couple of days that Abbott’s daughter was given a $60,000 ‘scholarship’, something that Abbott failed to declare on his interests register, despite it clearly being done as a political favour. It is a shame that the college does not award scholarships based on merit.
With all of this going on, is it any wonder there are calls for a Federal version of ICAC to hold Federal politicians to account?
Clearly, it is in the public’s best interest to have an independent body to ensure that the public aren’t being taken for a ride and those elected to look after our needs aren’t just there serving their own interests.
Which brings me to Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman.
It would seem that Campbell Newman has less than 25 per cent of Joe Hockey’s personality or charm, as an audience with the Coalition’s Queensland Premier costs only $5,000, as revealed in a NSW ICAC hearing.
The state that was home to the infamous Fitzgerald Inquiry back in the 1980s and took down the state’s most notorious Premier ever, the Nationals’ Joh Bjelke-Petersen, has now watered down the way it handles corruption allegations.
The appointment of a Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) chairperson will no longer require bipartisan approval. It is fair to say there is a great deal of apprehension about the controversial changes, even from within the LNP.
The CMC has had a proud tradition of being an independent body whose chairperson was selected in a bipartisan decision. This ensured little prospect of bias or political favours being repaid.
Campbell Newman has utterly destroyed that tradition.
You can follow Peter Wicks on Twitter @madwixxy.
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