O'Farrell cuts Minister Greg Pearce loose

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The long shadow of Greg Pearce's conduct has plagued the O'Farrell Government for weeks. Former NSW Labor candidate Peter Wicks fills us in on this "scandal free" NSW government.

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A grim-faced Premier O'Farrell was left to finally oust key ally Greg Pearce. (Image courtesy YouTube screenshot)

YESTERDAY came the news that NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce has been sacked from Cabinet for what Premier Barry O'Farrell called a "clear breach" of the ministerial code of conduct.

Greg Pearce has not been dragged up before the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). He has managed to avoid that thus far.

Mr Pearce was a member Barry O'Farrell's frontbench that he promised would be scandal free during his election campaign.

As I have written a previous article, this must be what is deemed a "scandal free" Coalition government frontbench.

  • Arts Minister George Souris, who was caught publicly masturbating.

  • Environment Minister Robyn Parker, who thinks logging is good for Koalas.

  • Health Minister Jillian Skinner, whose office was evacuated by the threat of a few nurses delivering her a cake.

  • Education Minister Adrian Piccoli, who publicly signed a pledge to maintain TAFE funding in his election campaign. He then slashed TAFE services as part of the Coalitions $1.8 Billion Education cuts. The cuts cost 800 TAFE workers their jobs. Mr Piccoli is also famous for leaving disabled children stranded by the side of the road when he changed their transport.

  • Emergency Services Minister Michael Gallacher, who made the decision to close fire stations during a heat wave and spate of bush fires. This forced communities to rely on volunteer services and fire services from other areas which were left unprotected.

  • The Attorney-General Greg Smith, who insulted the victims of paedophiles and supports priests charged with sexually assaulting multiple young children. He proposed legislation – now passed – that means victims of paedophile priests will never be compensated.

  • Minister for Community Services Pru Goward, who has overseen what many have described as a public housing crisis. She has brought about such  chaos in at DoCs that child welfare is at arguably its lowest point ever. This is to the point where there has been talk of federal intervention being required.

  • Not to mention the Treasurer Mike Baird, who has a 100% success rate for delivering budget deficits after inheriting a surplus, and is famous for losing a $1 billion dollars.

  • No scandals there, eh Barry?

    Greg Pearce is the first Coalition MP to be sacked for what is a perceived corrupt practice.

    I have written several articles Greg Pearce's travails recently.

    ipad-art-wide-Mike Baird-420x0
    NSW Treasurer Mike Baird. The man famous for losing $1 billion while ripping $1.8B out of the TAFE system. (Image courtesy smh.com.au)

    He has only been sacked from his position in Cabinet. He continues to be a part of the ram-shackled O'Farrell Government.

    Pearce was sacked over his “jobs for the boys” scandal, He is yet to face charges for his travel expense rorting. He was recently so drunk he needed assistance from NSW Parliament.

    Yesterday, the Opposition Leader John Robertson called for a full investigation into all of Pearce's board appointments. He went further, saying:

    “After the long list of allegations that have been raised by the Labor Opposition about Mr Pearce over the last few months, Greg Pearce shouldn’t have still had a job to be sacked from.”

    “Mr O’Farrell has already gagged debate and blocked a motion by the NSW Opposition to refer his Finance Minister to the ICAC.

    “This is a Premier who isn’t serious about cracking down on corruption in his government.

    “Not only did Mr O’Farrell allow this to happen, but he has actively covered it up by squashing investigations and protecting his friend and minister.”

    Barry O’Farrell is seeking to shield his Minister from scrutiny. This comes at the same time as ICAC is handing down their findings and the Labor Party have acted swiftly to reform the party federally and in NSW.

    If O’Farrell was serious about being “scandal free” he would have sacked Greg Pearce weeks ago or even months ago. He should also have expelled him from the Liberal Party for life, much like new Labor reforms would have. Anything less than that is, in my view, a sign of either weakness or complicity.

    In my humble opinion, Pearce's sacking is timed to coincide with the fallout from ICAC handing down their findings. This appears to be an attempt to avoid further scrutiny into Pearce's appointments and his role in some of the Coalition's major policies.

    He had a major hand in increasing household insurance to now include a fire levy. Something that in true Liberal style ensures the consumer pays more for less. This while the insurance companies reap the rewards.

    He was also instrumental in the changes to workers compensation that saw over 30,000 protesters storm Parliament House in protest. The changes will save insurance companies billions of dollars, while punishing the public.

    The Victims of Crime legislation, which I  have also written about, favours insurance companies. The legislation appears to be, in my opinion, designed to further punish the victims of paedophile priests and to save the church millions in compensation payouts. It's the church insurers who will probably benefit the most.

    There needs to be an independent investigation is held into all decisions that involve insurance companies that this government has been involved in, particularly those above, then this government will have a dark shadow of doubt over it.

    My gut tells me this is just the beginning.

    (Peter Wicks is an ALP member and a former NSW State Labor candidate.)

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