Political halos

Posted: September 16, 2019 in Ranting
Tags: , , ,

Corruption. Dodgy expenses. Illegal donations. Self-interest before all else. In Australian politics, it never seems to stop. But why? If they know it is wrong, why do they keep doing it?

The reality is that, despite everything so far uncovered by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, which has even resulted in convictions and prison sentences, there is still a culture in Australian politics of the ‘untouchable.’

This unacceptable culture starts right at the very top in Federal Parliament. And if they, as a whole, consider themselves untouchable, why should any level of government below them think any different?

In Australian Federal Parliament, you can get away with just about anything and if actually caught, just have to say sorry, my bad, and all is usually forgiven. Generally at worst you may lose a ministry but still keep a well-paid backbench job along with all the associated perks. Caught making seriously dodgy expense claims? No problems. Just say whoopsies, how did that get in there. Repay it along with a financial penalty and the slate is wiped clean.

How many people in regular life can fiddle the petty cash at work with dodgy expenses and get away with it? Virtually nobody. Get caught and you get sacked. A visit from Constable Plod may also result. But a politician? Whoopsies. All good.

We keep seeing the same behaviour in Parliaments over and over again. If it can be hidden, it is. If it is caught out, it is downplayed and very rarely any action taken.

When was the last time a Member or Senator in Australian parliament was referred to the police by those reviewing outrageous expense claims? I cannot find a single record of such. If such has occurred, it must have been a lot of years ago. The Peter Slipper case was different as the matter of his dodgy taxicab fares was never allowed to go through the same expense review that applies to every single other parliamentarian.

Malcolm Turnbull finally set up a supposedly independent body to review political expenses. But we don’t hear much from them. Are we to believe that politicians, as a whole, are now suddenly paragons of virtue? I very much doubt it. So, nothing has really changed.

The NSW ICAC has uncovered a ridiculous amount of dodgy goings-on. Even allowing for the times they have messed up or exceeded their remit, they have still seen a lot of dodgy operators being uncovered.

So why is it that we do not have a Federal equivalent of ICAC? It has been strongly resisted by the Coalition in particular, ever since returning to power in 2013, at a time when calls for this were growing louder.

The justification was consistently that ‘we don’t need it.’ That ‘there is no evidence’ of wrongdoing.

The Political Halo (original pic credit Dominic Lorrimer)

Apparently, the moment someone gets their backside on the red or green leather seats in parliament, they  automatically become an angel, incapable of any wrongdoing! And if you believe that, then my stable of pedigree flying pigs needs cleaning.

The best way of not uncovering any wrongdoing is to make sure no investigation ever occurs. Even when Scott Morrison finally gave in and commenced setting up a body to investigate potential, the very big exception was…you guessed it, politicians.

As always, Federal politicians as a class are just looking after themselves, ensuring all those well feathered nests are not disturbed.

So long as Australian governments insist on placing themselves above even reasonable public accountability, the culture of the untouchable will not go away. And it shall continue to permeate down through other levels of government.

If, like me, you are sick of this garbage, start writing to your MPs and Senators. Write to the newspapers. Let them know that we have had enough!

Ross doesn’t bite – a lot – so if you like this piece, feel free to share it and follow Ross’s Rant. But please – don’t use this without contacting me first.

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