The word on everybody’s lips at the moment is corruption.
The corruption scandal involving the likes of Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi, Tony Kelly, and Ian MacDonald was an anchor wrapped around the ankles of the NSW Labor Party during the last state election campaign, and it also helped pull down the last Federal Election campaign under its enormous weight.
The Labor Party was punished for the wrongdoings of a few, and rightly so as well.
Now it seems that the concrete shoe is on the other foot with the Liberal Party suddenly on the defensive with allegations of corruption coming left, right and centre.
I have spoken to several Coalition supporters who point out that there are differences between the corruption allegations against those in the Labor party and those in the Liberal Party, and this is true.
The dollar figures involved in allegations concerning former members of the Labor Party are much greater is one difference. However given ICAC are only just starting to delve into the Liberal side of things it is likely to early to tell.
Another difference that Liberal supporters point out with glee is the lack of a prostitute named Tiffanie.
Ian MacDonald some may recall was apparently suffering from a bad neck, and in return for setting up some meetings with a state-operated power company, businessman Ron Medich helped him out. Medich allegedly opted for a prostitute named Tiffanie and drove MacDonald to a luxury hotel where Tiffanie was waiting in her underwear.
Although it was claimed that they never had sex, spending some quality time with MacDonald was apparently enough to make an experienced prostitute like Tiffanie feel like vomiting. I dread to think why…
As for MacDonald’s neck issue, it is unclear how his healing process is progressing.
As I said, it is true that there are these stark differences but there are also others some forget to mention and I have yet to see referred to in the press.
The corruption that plagued the Labor Party came from the right faction of the NSW state branch, and involved serving state members, and former Ministers.
ICAC is currently investigating three NSW Liberal Party MP’s including the former Energy Minister Chris Hartcher, as well as Chris Spence and Darren Webber.
However one of the most startling differences between the corruption scandal of Labors versus the Liberals is that the Liberal Party scandal now involves a Federal member, Labor’s woes were only NSW based and did not involve Federal Members.
Not only does the ICAC corruption scandal involve a Liberal Federal MP, but he is also a Federal Minister, until he stood down Arthur Sinodinos was the Assistant Treasurer no less.
Not only that, Arthur Sinodinos is the former treasurer as well as the former President of the NSW Liberal Party.
If corruption allegations are proven against Mr Sinodinos, rather than just a few MP’s like in Labor’s case, this would show a State Branch of the Liberal Party that was rotten at its very core.
Most alarming is that the involvement of Arthur Sinodinos also brings along with it connections to the offices of two Prime Ministers.
Sinodinos was John Howard’s right hand man, he was Howard’s chief of staff for nine years from 1997 through to 2006. Since the allegations have emerged John Howard has come out in Sinodinos’s defence.
More recently there is the behaviour of Tony Abbott in regards to this matter.
Since the news of ICAC’s interest in Sinodinos and his business affairs has been made public, it has emerged that discussions had taken place between Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan and Arthur Sinodinos on the goings on with the firm in question Australian Water Holdings prior to Sinodinos’s appointment to Federal Parliament.
According to News Corp, Bill Heffernan had set himself up as a kind of “self-appointed corruption buster” and grilled Sinodinos as part of a Liberal Party Nomination Review Committee, a committee set up for the vetting of candidates in a bid to avoid the situation they now find themselves in. Findings from this committee were likely reported back to Tony Abbott or his chief of staff Peta Credlin.
As Senator Penny Wong put it when interviewed on the ABC’s Insiders;
“…it just beggars belief that this information wouldn’t have been passed on to the Prime Minister’s Office or the Prime Minister.”
Damn right Penny.
On Monday during question time, Tony Abbott when asked about what he knew and when he knew it, had the option of either being honest and explaining his actions (or lack of), or misleading parliament.
Abbott instead made up an option C and gutlessly avoided the numerous questions on the subject, stating instead;
“I don’t believe that it is the job of the Prime Minister to comment on gossip and scuttlebutt.”
He’s right, that isn’t the Prime Minister’s job. However this isn’t gossip or scuttlebutt. This is a member of his frontbench being summoned before the Independent Commission Against Corruption with some serious questions to answer, and it would appear our Prime Minister may have known about this before Sinodinos’s appointment.
Tony Abbott did all he could to trash the office of Prime Minister when Julia Gillard was PM, he continues to trash it today by his own actions and with nobody else’s help.
Another difference is what I would refer to as the “Rees Factor”.
The “Rees Factor” is the bravery of someone within the ranks willing to take on corruption.
That man for Labor in NSW was Nathan Rees who as the NSW Premier attempted to rid the Labor Party of the influence of Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi & Co and paid the ultimate price by losing his Premiership, some would say he is still paying the price today.
In fact in his earlier role as Water Minister Nathan Rees referred to Australian Water Holdings as a” bunch of crooks” ICAC was told previously.
In the Liberal Party unfortunately there is no such person.
Instead we have Joe Hockey returning donations but doing nothing else, Tony Abbott refusing to answer simple questions in parliament, and a string of MP’s, Ministers, and Senators all singing the praises of Arthur Sinodinos even after spending years condemning his business partner Eddie Obeid.
It is clear in politics these days we need to see more of the “Rees Factor”, but alas with a Coalition government at the helm it is nowhere to be found.
Nothing that even comes close.