Grangegate and the Lobbyists' Party

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(Image via @krONik)

The Barry O'Farrell resignation reminds us that the Liberal Party has no purpose other than to enrich its sponsors and mates, writes Bob Ellis.

Eighteen months ago, Pyne and Abbott ran out of the chamber to avoid the toxic vote of a man who had spent $6,000 inappropriately.

On Thursday, O’Farrell vacated his position, the second most important in the land, because of $3,000 spent inappropriately on a bottle of wine.

Four years ago, Belinda Neal lost her seat because she said ‘Do you know who I am?’ to a Woy Woy waiter inappropriately, amid headlines bellowing ‘Iguanagate’, over what was no more, in the end, than a tone of voice.

These political events have a common cause — the Karl Rove/Roger Ailes Method of raising devils over small things, and the devils are now devouring the Liberal Party.

Mike Baird cannot now have long as leader after Sarah Ferguson asked him did Nick Di Girolamo give him campaign money and get from him, in return, a job he couldn’t do very well; the same Nick Di Girolamo who spent buckets of money on lavish living — taxpapers’ money, that is.

Arthur Sinodinos cannot now have long as a Senator after accepting from Nick Di Girolamo $20 million dollars if he ‘persuaded’ O’Farrell to give their sewage company a contract.

Hockey and Abbott may not have long as MPs if, as is likely, Di Girolamo gave money to their campaigns, money stolen, that is, from the New South Wales taxpayer. The vultures are circling, the jackals detect the smell of blood on the wind, and the Liberal Party itself may not survive the year.

For the Liberal Party is the Lobbyists’ Party, it has no other moral purpose any more. It is there to give contracts to mates who build the airport, and the roads to and from it, and positions to crooks like Di Girolamo who kick back money to it.

Nick Greiner, wonderfully, said on Thursday that "of course" he would have accepted a $3,000 bottle of wine, it was how lobbying worked, by which he meant how bribery worked.

He thus reminds us of the billions Howard tried to dropkick to Doug Moran, a donor, in varied fees for his old age homes, and the $298 million dollars Downer and Vaile gave to Saddam Hussein to ‘smooth the passage’ of Australian wheat to Ba’athist flour mills in Iraq. And, of course, the $5,000 you had to pay, once, to get through Mayor Campbell Newman’s door.

It’s what Abbott means by "open for business". It’s in the Liberals’ DNA. They are the Lobbyists’ Party, the mates’ rates party, the kickback party.

They have no other meaning.

Privatisation is a kickback. A bottle of wine is a kickback. It’s what, as Greiner foolishly boasts, they do.

And it’s the party that’s now inviting us to "share the pain" and sack, say, Sarah Ferguson to "balance the books". It’s hard, after Grangegate, for Hockey to do this, or persuade Clive Palmer – a former donor, aggrieved now – to let the Budget through.

All self-righteousness has gone from the Liberals’ armoury now and it was the biggest weapon they had. They now must explain why a search for MH370 was worth it, worth the money in hundreds of millions, and saving Holden wasn’t. Holden didn’t grease their palms enough, perhaps, with money donated to their campaign in, say, 2010.

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