Tag Archives: ICAC

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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Everybody Hates This Budget

Everybody Except Ballerinas

Who decided that out of all the arts practitioners that ballerinas in particular were the most hard done by and could not be cut any more? Who’s daughter or niece is studying to be a ballerina? Didn’t they think we’d notice that everybody in the sciences, arts and manufacturing gets funding cuts but the ballerinas are going to get a special scholarship fund for their boarding needs? Has there been a bigger joke and probable cause for investigating a conflict of interest than this item in this year’s budget?

But no, there won’t be a federal equivalent of an ICAC, so we may never know. I sure hope the findings in the NSW ICAC about this North Sydney Forum brings down Joe Hockey. Screw him and the tutu and shoes he came dancing into town with.

How Do The Nats Cope?
It struck me that the budget would hurt the rural base of the national Party as much, if not more than people in urban areas. Consider youth unemployment is higher in rural areas, so these cuts to the dole and changes in arrangements would affect more rural families than city ones. Making tertiary education more expensive adds a burden on to families that have to send their university student children to cities to board and study. If at the same time the Federal government is pulling 80billion from healthcare and education from the states, then clearly they’re more likely to feel the pinch when the State governments cut health and education in far flung rural areas before they cut in urban areas.

Which ever way you dice this, this budget is not good for the bush at all, and even if they built all these roads, it’s the sort of spending that is one-and-done with nothing to follow up. There’s really nothing in it that helps the bush at all, and so you wonder what exactly keeps the Nationals in the fold with the Liberals except for an extreme kind of social conservatism. Even then you wonder how much the bush can take of this before they say, “bugger the principles, we’re not going along with this crap”; It may already be happening because the amount of support given to a rogue national party member like Bob Katter teaming up with mining magnate Clive Palmer suggests the rural vote is already looking away from the Coalition in search of a better choice

I spoke to Pleiades today who tells me people on the backbench on the government side are hopping mad at Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott is putting it on the MPs to go and sell this to their electorates, but the MPs weren’t consulted about any of these radical changes. If it’s not a fiasco, it sure is a looming disaster.

OMG, A Medical Research Fund?

It’s pretty clear the current Libs have attitudes that date back to when Galileo started moving the earth and Darwin conjured humanity from monkeys. The thing that has Pleaides incensed is that this mob have come to power and shut down the environmental agencies, cutback the CSIRO, and research areas an starved science of funding in the name of budget surplus. They say it’s about the budget surplus, but actually they just don’t like science for embarrassing the church. Pretty soon they’ll be ramming (un)’Intelligent Design’ into the classroom and wanting to support the church through public funds – in fact they’re already paying for chaplains to be in schools.

These people don’t really believe in science. Think about that for a moment. They don’t even have a minister for science. Their vision for the future revolves around building roads and presumably keeping driving fossil fuel vehicles as if the world does not change. Not only are they in denial about Climate Change, they’re in denial that anything changes at all. so how much credibility is there when the very same people who have taken an axe to science turn around and say they are going to have a medical research fund?

It immediately begs the question qui bono  – who benefits? It’s no conspiracy. It has got to be the pharmaceutical companies who have been lobbying the government to keep their entitlements under the current medical entitlements even if the Australian people lose theirs. Oh that, and maybe Joe Hockey doesn’t want to die of an obscure cancer.

It will be too late to reach for your torches and pitchforks when they start giving out textbooks with humans and dinosaurs cavorting together. You heard it from me right here.

Captive To Idiocy

I know name-calling doesn’t help but it’s worth calling things by their proper name: The Liberal Party in Australia has transformed itself into the Conservative party and are decidedly Tory in their bearings. Just as with their overseas conservative counterparts, there’s nothing terribly liberal about this Liberal Party at all. It’s no coincidence that Tony Abbott wanted to bring back Knights and Dames. However when it comes to economic policy the only textbook they had to go on was the austerity practiced by the UK Conservatives and the sort of belt tightening imposed on Greece.

Of course, austrity has not worked at all, and Greece saw its economy shrink to such an extent that it ended up owning more money as against their GDP. The experience in the UK has been such that they couldn’t run austerity program enough to sustain infrastructure so they only half implemented it and mostly talked about doing it. The very notion that austerity would lead the economy back to health is built on the simple assumption that if government debt is reduced to zero and goes to surplus, the economy would once again be free to make capital investments.

It’s a lie. It’s stupid. And quite frankly it’s so wrong and stupid, it’s evil and a danger to society. And yet that’s our federal government

The problem with our economy and what has hindered our recovery is that people have not been able to deleverage their private debt from their peak in 2007. That’s it. Even if the Australian government went back to zero debt, as long as Australian households are in debt up to their eyeballs and Australian industry is in debt up to their eyeballs, there won’t be any more big capital expenditures in the wake of the mining boom subsiding. That’s really it in a nutshell.

But the desire of industry is always to privatise profits and socialise losses so to this end they lobby  governments for special treatment. In the current government we have a bunch of idiots who want to do exactly as the lobbyists ask, believing this is the remedy to a problem that does not actually exist, when in fact it utterly fails to address the problems that do exist. And if that’s not captive to idiocy it’s hard to imagine a better example.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 18/Mar/2013

Tin Ear Drum, Tin Ears, Tone Deaf

It’s a new week and a new poll says Julia Gillard’s got to go. As far as the electorate’s concerned, she’s a Dead Leader Walking.

The Prime Minister conducted a live-in campaign tour of western Sydney, announced $1 billion for the WestConnex expressway, promised a brace of benefits for workers, pledged $1 billion for aged care staff, attacked foreign workers on 457 visas and championed ”Aussie jobs,” and presided over strong growth in the number of people in jobs.

All for no electoral gain. The only movement in Labor’s primary vote was a 1 per cent rise, which is within the poll’s margin of error of 2.6 per cent. Neither offers to meet voters’ needs nor appeals to their prejudices made any discernible difference. The evidence of the last month is that, as a campaigner, Gillard is ineffectual. So if Gillard can’t do it for Labor, who can?

The poll tested the standing of four alternative leaders – Kevin Rudd and the three Gillard ministers most commonly touted as leadership material, Bill Shorten, Greg Combet and Bob Carr.

Asked whether they would prefer Gillard or Rudd, respondents chose Rudd by exactly two-to-one, 62 per cent to 31. His edge over Gillard on this measure has risen by 5 percentage points in the last month. Asked to choose between each of the other three and Gillard, respondents chose Gillard every time.

”The voters are saying, ‘if we can’t have Kevin Rudd, we’d rather have Julia Gillard over any of the alternatives’,” Stirton concludes. In short, there is no realistic option of a ”third candidate” to lead Labor.

That’s sort of the problem, though, isn’t it? It’s too late to go back to Kevin Rudd because even if they did, they’re not going to win. That choice was way back in February 2012, so as far as we can tell, the ALP is accepting it’s going to go down with all hands, thank you very much Captain Improbable.

Julia Gillard defiantly says she won’t flinch. Well, neither does a corpse, so I don’t know how not flinching is going to help.

”I’ll just keep getting on with it and dealing with the issues that actually matter and all of this kind of side-commentary can do whatever it does. It’s not going to deter me – or distract me.”

Ms Gillard has just emphatically ruled out any prospect of her stepping down before the election, insisting Labor made its decision on leadership when it rejected Kevin Rudd’s challenge last year. ”I haven’t revisited it since and I won’t be revisiting it. The decision’s made.”

But, in an expansive exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, Ms Gillard said Mr Rudd would play a prominent role in the election campaign, saying he would be ”asked to participate in the campaign more broadly than his own electorate”.She also indicated she would not resist a return by Mr Rudd to the front bench after the next election, saying: ”It would obviously be a matter for him that I would deal with in the circumstances of the time.”

Good heavens! After the next election when the ALP gets decimated in the polls, it might be only Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard remaining. She sure as heck won’t be keeping the leader’s seat after she presides over a mess that is likely to go down in history as the mother of all drubbings.

One of the more awful trends in the last few months has been the growing acceptance that come 15th September, it’s going to be Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. It’s like the 5 stages of grieving. We’re done ‘Denying’ it. We’ve been ‘Angry’ for 3years now. Some people are trying to ‘Bargain’.

The optimistic conclusion is this: Life under Tony Abbott may not be as bad as we fear. Perhaps. If we’re lucky. Assuming he’s fair dinkum and his mates don’t succumb to the power aphrodisiac.

I forgot to mention the other finding from the German research was things never turn out as well as optimists predict.
Such is life …

This is what we have been reduced to. I guess I’m going straight to ‘Depression’. It’s going to be very hard to accept Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. There’s something so insidiously  wrong about that – but what can you do? Vote of Julia? Puh-lease!

How Rotten Is NSW Politics?

If anything has been busily hammering the nail into the coffin of the Federal ALP, it’s been NSW ALP with all the horrible bits and pieces coming out of the ICAC inquiry. For a start, the Morbid Obedity that is being explored doesn’t just cover coal; it turns out it covers Ron Medich and the Michael McGurk murder. It even goes far back as Offset Alpine. Eddie Obeid’s right in there with Rene Rivkin. (In fact, that mess of course leads to the Caroline Byrne thing but we won’t go into that here.  The point of all this is that there was a cabal of people in and out of each other’s deals, cleaning up on the scraps left over by government; and Eddie Obeid made sure that he left big scraps on the table and that a sizable portion of the scraps went into his own pockets.)

I seriously wonder if the ALP will survive this scandal. They may not come back for over a decade, both in NSW and Federally. We may be witnessing the end of the ALP. And they would only have themselves to blame.

Oh, let’s never forget that Eddie Obeid’s support and sway over the NSW Right Faction swung the numbers for Bill Shorten and Mark Arbib to oust Kevin Rudd. Julia Gillard may well wonder why she does so badly in NSW. If she could get her head around our deep disgust, then she might even get her head around flinching in revulsion and resigning.

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Morbid Obeidity

‘Obeidity’: A New Word For Rampant Corruption

We knew the NSW branch of the ALP has been very odd for a long time. The depths of the corruption that is coming out in the ICAC hearings is at once unsurprising and yet so repugnant. From what we are to understand from the hearings, Eddie Obeid held the NSW Right faction hostage, placed Ian MacDonald (‘Sir Lunch-a-lot’) in a position where he would have inside knowledge, then used that inside knowledge to stake out a position wherein they would have to be bought out in order for a coal mine to be built, finagled his family trust into owning the mining concern that would win the tender on the back of knowing where the coal was, and by having Ian Macdonald decide who would win the tender. In the process, Ian Macdonald had side deals with Greg Jones and a cast of characters have either opted in (and out); all of it as a result of the shenanigans carried out by Obeid and Ian Macdonald.

The surprising thing in all this is that the fast and furious chopping and changing of Premiers from Morris Iemma to Nathan Rees to Kristina Kenneally may have been done to preserve Obeid’s advantages in the various deals and had nothing to do with:

  • Points of public policy
  • Policy differences on public policy
  • Inner ALP politics and machinations for political advantage
  • Inner NSW Right factional politics for political advantage.

No, no, no, no, no! Eddie Obeid was pulling strings and throwing his weight around just so he could have his snout firmly entrenched in the comings and goings in these deals. That all the public incredulity and angst about the state of the ALP over these changes had sweet fuck all to do with anything of actual importance. It was all about the Obeids getting more out of the public purse. So, it may well be that since Bob Carr left office as Premier, NSW politics has essentially stood still, unable to do anything because these corrupt toads were  busy filling their own pockets and making out like bandits. And if nothing else it explains how the extremely insufferable and stupid Kristina Kenneally came to be our Premier. The Obeids played us all for suckers and stuck a muppet with hair up there, knowing full well that voting was just some kind of popularity contest when the real deal was the deal making to stuff one’s own coffers.

The true tragedy in all this is that the ICAC can’t lay charges, and that the DPP won’t be able to prosecute the Obeids unto a conviction because the ICAC evidence won’t necessarily fit through that tight door into the courtroom. That’s right. Eddie Obeid and his family just might get away with all this. I *hate* saying this but the Angry Fat Man is right: this is moral turpitude at its most flagrant worst.

And we’re all the poorer for it. All those policy points we’ve argued about and waited for our government to action, such as public transport or infrastructure spending never really took any part of Eddie Obeid’s greedy little mind. It didn’t matter who lobbied whom, none of it was ever going to happen (and didn’t) because frankly this guy did not give a shit about public policy – at all – And he just rope-a-doped his way through office, hardly turning up, pulling down his salary (and the Parliamentarian superannuation now), just being generally obstructionist so that nothing that got in his way, got done.

So the question today is this: given the Obeid/ICAC thing, the Craig Thomson thing, and the Nova Peris/ Trish Crossin thing, (not to mention the Rudd removal) how can we bring ourselves to even contemplate voting for the ALP in all good conscience? How do we know the next candidate they put up in Dobell to replace Craig Thomson won’t be some union hack or some low grade party apparatchik? How do we know Nova Peris won’t become a corrupt politician with her snout firmly embedded in the public purse, and un-removable by dint of her ethnicity? Forget high ideals and lights at the top of the metaphorical hill; where the heck are we supposed to find any faith in this mob?

It’s bad enough that we’re confronted with a 2-Tax Systems Tony Abbott and his attack-poodle-of-death Christopher Pyne. Just what the hell are we supposed to do? Vote for these muthers?

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