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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

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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.

RoweDfly with me.jpg David Rowe

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.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:30 PM | | Comments (10)


NSW Labor continues to tear itself apart. Barry O’Farrell, like Nick Greiner before him, are decent politicians compared to Labor's power broker Eddie Obeid and former state energy minister Ian Macdonald. The ICAC found that the latter had acted corruptly.

The ICAC was supposed to concentrate on the exposure of corrupt figures like Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald in order to inflict profound damage on Labor, and the state and federal level.

NSW still needs to end to the blatant corruption that had became a feature of New South Wales Labor’s last years in power.

Will the Liberal Party be able to deliver that?

O’Farrell’s image of moderate reform, intelligence and steady competence was marred by dodgy deals with the Legislative Council crossbenchers like the Shooters Party and Fred Nile; and rolling over to James Packer so he could have his way on the casino at Barangaroo.

"O’Farrell’s image of moderate reform, intelligence and steady competence"

The O'Farrell government continues to subsidize fossil fuel production, to place restrictions renewable energy, and to support the development of coal seam gas.

Its a political system held captive by an alliance of big money and Bible-punchers.

The O'Farrell Government has imposed quite severe new restrictions on the approval of wind farms; says that the Renewable Energy Target should be closed; and it doesn't want another wind farm developed in the state.

The reason for the O'Farrell Govt's history of hostility to renewable energy is that it owned black coal-fired power stations (e.g., Liddell and Bayswater).

It has recently sold them to AGL Energy for $1.5 billion. However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has rejected the government’s plan to sell Macquarie Generation's two coal fired plants in the Hunter Valley.

The O'Farrell Govt has sold Delta Electricity, which owns MountPiper and Wallerawang power stations, to EnergyAustralia, and Eraring Energy, which owned the Eraring and Shoalhaven power stations, to Origin Energy.

The O'Farrell Govt still owns the electricity network or “poles and wires” and it remains addicted to coal-fired power.

Even though the ICAC says that Barry O'Farrell has not acted corruptly in his dealings with Australian Water Holdings, it is no longer the case that the O'Farrell Government can be considered a change in NSW culture, a new broom, a breath of fresh air etc etc.

The Eight by Five slush fund Icac inquiry, which is due to start at the end of this month, will only reinforce this perception.

The current state of NSW politics is bad. Its a world where whereby powerbrokers move seamlessly between party, parliamentary and lobbyist positions.

The politicians in both the Liberal and Labor parties in NSW have been captured by vested interests and see politics as way to make lots of money.