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Political lobbying --Brian Burke style « Previous | |Next »
March 5, 2007

Why does the Canberra Press Gallery focus almost exclusively on the Rudd issue and not on political lobbying? Why is the latter ignored, when Brian Burke stands for the deep corruption at the heart to political lobbying? Don't we need an accountability framework that regulates the lobbying industry?

Alan Moir

There seems to be an assumption amongst the Canberra Press Gallery that lobbying is the preferred mean for exerting political influence in Australian liberal democracies and corruption the preferred one in Indonesia. Lobbying and corruption don't mix in Australia, even though Brian Burke indicates the very opposite. Isn't Brian Burke Australia's equivalent of Jack Abramoff in the US? Or is Perth seen as the capital for political corruption, and that is all that needs to be said?

The Canberra Press Gallery--eg., Matt Price in The Australia talks in terms of Burke's perverted political influence whilst saying that Burke and Grill were deftly able to cut through endless red tape and set up meetings with key bureaucrats and MPs. So when--ie., at what point--does legitimate lobbying become perverted lobbying and the Westminster system in Western Australia becomes compromised? What sort of accountability framework to regulate the lobby industry do we need?

Can we talk in terms of gangster capitalism yet? Is that what is emerging in WA?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:05 AM | | Comments (2)


Very pertinent observations, I believe, and not to my knowledge made in the MSM.

Money and politics, always a very nice fit, are always in need of accountability mechanisms, which in this instance of lobbying do not seem to exist.

Then their is the attraction of the industry for former politicians to carry on insider trading. And yet Burke and Grill are seemingly effective offering win/win outcomes, winning the suppoort of business, despite the bans by the premiers.

The mainstream media are focused on the attack on Rudd by the Coalition, the tactics, the effect on Rudd and the dip in the polls. and Rudd's political ambition. The Canberra Press Gallery are in the federal election groove and, as they aren't really interested in stepping outside the horizons, they rewrite the same story over and over again. Murdoch's Australian continues to thunder away in its attacks on Rudd.

As lobbyists Burke and Grill are very successful in delivering for their clients. Even though former WA premier Geoff Gallop banned his ministers from meeting Burke, this ban was clearly ignored by some. Presumably Burke, as both lobbyist and Labor powerbroker, was able to use his clout in the ALP to intimidate those who feared him into doing his clients' bidding. As Patrick Weller puts it in The Australian, these ministers

breached cabinet confidentiality to tell Burke and Grill what cabinet was doing. They practised lines of argument, sought to influence the outcome and kept them informed of final decisions. They were effectively working for Burke and Grill, lobbyists who had financial benefits at stake. They breached their oath of office. Ministers who do not understand the basics of collective responsibility should not stay in cabinet.

Why did these Ministers fear Burke? I

f they are in Burke's debt 'cos he got them into their positions of power, then why isn't the ALP endeavouring to break Burke's power inside the ALP? It is an odd situation: Burke is a powerbroker in the ALP even though he is not even a member of the ALP.

Abramoff used his connections to influence legislation by enticing lawmakers with golf trips, sporting events or fancy meals at his Washington restaurant. So how does Burke do it?

Is there an equivalent of Washington's K Street--- a canyon of nondescript office buildings a few blocks north of the White House that is to influence-peddling what Wall Street is to finance---in Canberra?