News That’s Fit To Punt – 08/Sep/2014

ICAC Is Still The Gift That Keeps Giving

This is good. Turns out the tentacles of developers and other business interests trying to directly influence the outcomes of policies through donations and bribes, goes right through the office of Pete Credlin, Tony Abbott’s chief of staff. A few days ago, I blithely wrote that we’ve come to the point where vested interests just walk right in and tell the Government what they want, and the Government just writes up policy the way the political donors want it. It wasn’t an ambit claim; it’s pretty much borne out in the emails as revealed at ICAC.

The ICAC has heard that Brickworks used the Free Enterprise Foundation, a shadowy Canberra-based organisation, to channel $125,000 in illicit donations to the NSW Liberals for the March 2011 state election.

Since 2009, property developers have been banned from donating to NSW political parties, but it is legal for such donations to go to federal parties.
One of the previously suppressed emails reveals that, on March 1, 2011, Mr Nicolaou sent Ms Credlin an email titled

“Re Carbon Tax” advising that Brickworks was “a very good supporter of the Party.”
Mr Nicolaou attached an earlier message from the company’s managing director, Lindsay Partridge, which read:

“Paul, Tell Tony to stick to his guns on no carbon tax.
I am running an internal fight with the BCA [Business Council of Australia] who seem to be driven by a few companies who will make bundles out of the tax.”

Ms Credlin replied enthusiastically to Mr Nicolaou’s request.

“Lindsay provided a great line for Question Time. Do you have a number that I might be able to contact him on and see if he was happy for us to use it … ” she said.

I wasn’t kidding. The joke is that people keep turning a blind eye to this stuff and saying “we’re just good friends.” or whatever plausible deniability they can issue. That’s the problem with plausible deniability: it breeds contempt faster than familiarity. It’s like anything else.

If That Wasn’t Skullduggery Enough, There’s Always Christopher Pyne

The hung parliament that Julia Gillard presided over was a terribly difficult thing. power hung so close and yet so elusively far from the opposition of the time. Naturally, people would push hard to get things to happen, and perhaps change the very government.

Such intrigue would have been irresistable to the like of Chris Pyne, and so today we find that Chris Pyne offered James Ashby a  job and a lawyer to go after Pete Sipper, the Speak of the House at the time. What a guy!

It’s grubby, it’s scandalous, and it probably won’t bring down this wretched government. Oh well, such is life in the antipodes.

Scotland Might Actually Go Independent
The latest shock poll suggests the Yes vote is getting ahead of the no vote. It’s so strange to contemplate what this could mean in practical, financial terms. Can an independent Scotland issue a currency of its own? If so, how does it stop it becoming a basket case currency overnight? How will the independent Scottish Parliament stop Scotland from becoming a kind of economic basket case over night? Wouldn’t the wealthy south benefit greatly i it didn’t have to financially support the North? Doesn’t this suggest that the road of independence might be fraught with terrible risks and pitfalls? Will they be able to negotiate with the EU fast enough to join seamlessly? Can it even be done? What would England say? What happens at the border? Will England set up a customs gate near Hadrian’s Wall? All these questions make things incredibly interesting.

Of course, the monarch of the United Kingdom HM Queen Elizabeth II couldn’t possibly be countenancing all this with great majestic joy. one imagines she would be fuming hat things are going to be close, let alone, go towards Scottish independence. It’s so strange how this is coming about in the way that it is.

 

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