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political secrets « Previous | |Next »
November 20, 2004

This is what we know about political corruption:


Read Alan Ramsay on the Tony Windsor bribery allegations.

It would appear the AFP is running dead on this because it is a ‘politically sensitive’ matter.

The Canberra Times highlights that we also know something else about political corruption. It goes by the name of political patronage:

".. the whole [Windsor] affair underlines a murky and dirty little secret in politics, a secret that Labor probably has as little interest in revealing as does the present Government. It is true that the parties in government control a wide array of patronage positions - indeed 500 would not be the half of it.

The positions are on boards, committees, and tribunals, in diplomatic and sometimes consular and trades positions abroad, and can extend even to judgeships. Many of them are inordinately well paid. Many of them give those who hold them considerable power, or, in some cases, highly privileged access to information capable of being turned to private profit. And a considerable proportion of such positions go to men and women whose primary qualification is their political affiliation with, and in many cases, personal friendships with figures in the government that has appointed them."

As the editorial points out, if it is scandalous at federal government level, then it is even more blatantly partisan and corrupt at state government level.

The problem this presents for democracy is that the patronage system is not l subject to checks and balances of Parliament. The Canberra Times says:

"What Australia needs at both Commonwealth and state level is a system of checks and balances, even - horrors - some sort of independent body to vet appointments and monitor performance. Many other Westminster systems have such commissions."

I suggest that the Senate should be involved. Most appointees should be subject to the "advice and consent" of the Senate. A standing committee of the Senate could also monitor and question performance through the work done by the independent commission.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:56 AM | | Comments (0)