April 16, 2014
ICAC's inquiry into the corruption in the NSW political system, which effectively destroyed the NSW Labor Party, is now focused on the NSW Liberal Party. It is examining the influence of lobbyists in the NSW Liberal Party, political donations, corruption, and special deals for mates in the face of the politician's memory loss akin to amnesia. This is a world where a clique of powerbrokers-cum-lobbyists run the state party.
The fallout from the ICAC inquiry into Australian Water Holdings has begun. More fallout can be expected when ICAC examines whether, certain members of parliament corruptly solicited, received, and concealed payments from various sources in return for certain members of parliament favouring the interests of those responsible for the payments.
The Westminister system of governance has been effectively white anted by the backroom deals behind closed doors ( for casinos, liquor industry, coal and CSG) and the art of the forgettable by the guardians of virtue, integrity, honesty and honour in the face of allegations of fraud, dishonesty, insolvency and extensive donations to a Liberal Party slush fund.
The seedy world of favours-for-mates (fundraising, factional control, and solidarity) characterises New South Wales' squalid politics. Moneyed interests have infiltrated the decision-making forums of the political parties, and they usually seek to broker lucrative private sector deals and skim money from government agencies.
We can expect to hear complaints of ICAC being 'more powerful than elected politicians', and calls to 'reign in their power' or to limit them to 'serious matters' from both the influence peddlers, the vested interests and lobbyists on the make. They will say something like the ICAC exceeds its role and unfairly tarnishes the reputations of political figures for what amounts to momentary lapses of memory.
However, as Mark Latham points out, the powerbroker-parliamentary-lobbyist model is compelling evidence of how public office is being used for private gain. Politics has become just another monetarised commodity.
Will either the Liberal or Labor Party's act to address the 21st century version of Rum Corps to reduce the stranglehold of the factions and the lobbyists, given their reliance on fundraising? It is unlikely to deal with the situation whereby influence can be bought through political parties without having to comply with the guidelines that regulate direct access to governments. The desire to win elections trumps other concerns. And to win parties need to raise money and keep supporters and donors onside.
So I cannot see the Liberals acting decisively to limit the influence of lobbyists and fundraisers in the NSW Liberal party or to begin the reform (disable and disentangle) a corrupted political culture.