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political corruption SA #2 « Previous | |Next »
July 12, 2005

Does the Ashbourne political corruption trial and inquiry mark South Australia's loss of political innocence?

The Ashbourne Affair in SA refers to the deal that had been reportedly done for former Labor party Deputy leader Ralph Clarke to be found some government appointments in return for Clarke agreeing to join Attorney General Michael Atkinson in abandoning libel actions they had been pursuing against each other.

The Premier's senior advisor Randall Ashbourne had supposedly cut the deal. Ashbourne was charged with improper conduct (abused his public office), which lead to the recent trial and the acquittal of Ashbourne.

Political pressure from the opposition parties has forced the Rann Government to promise an inquiry into its initial handling of the Ashbourne disclosures back in 2002. It is seeking to confine the scope of the inquiry to prevent any timebomb exploding about the covering up of the possibility that cutting the deal was a breach of crimiinal law.

The Australian Democrats are demanding a wide, public inquiry into allegations of corruption within the Rann government. The fact that the Rann Government does not control the Legislative Council means that the various opposition parties and Independents can act as a counter to the general tendency in this Westminster derived political system to allow the political executive to dominate Parliament.

Will the Liberals act with the other opposition parties to bring about a strengthening of Parliament at the Executive's expense so as to fetter the Executive?

Where we stand at the moment is State Parliament's Legislative Council now conducting its own investigation, after a deadlock over legislation establishing a judicial inquiry.

This is not going well with the Rann Government. Its conduct with Stephen Pallaras, the Director of Public Prosecutions, indicates a tendency for mauling and discrediting those with whom it has differences.

The Atkinson-Ashbourne Affair increasingly looks to be a can of worms. Will the codes of silence be prised open to reveal political corruption? Will the inquiry be damaging to public trust in the Rann Government? Will the alarm bells start sounding?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:08 PM | | Comments (0)