Allan Takes Aim Blog

Complacency: the manure that feeds political corruption

Posted on: 31 August 2009


Published “The Chronicle” Canberra, Tuesday 25 August 2009 

 Shady political lobbyists (fixers) and corrupt politicians have always been part of the political scene. While many of them have been caught and jailed, many are still with us as is the perception of many that fewer are in jail than out of it while those in jail are but the tip of a very big iceberg.

But just as fixers and corrupt politicians have long been with us, so too, have many other politicians who keep telling us they have the answers on how fixing and corruption can be eliminated. At every election they swear, hand on heart, that the only way to ensure parliament will be free of fixing and corruption is to elect or re-elect them.

Sadly some fixers are able to pursue corrupting politicians while visiting them in parliament, at other times however the corrupting is done well away from the parliament in places where fixers and corrupt politicians can avoid scrutiny.

Based on evidence adduced at the eighties inquiry into the Queensland Police, conducted by Tony Fitzgerald QC, not only was it shown that police corruption was rampant it also showed that corruption permeated every part of Queensland’s public life. And while it isn’t possible to say that Queensland is at the top of the fixers and corrupt politicians league, the cumulative effect of past and recent events show it is near the top. 

As a result of the Inquiry, many Queensland celebrities were embarrassed while the Premier, Cabinet Ministers, former Cabinet Ministers, business identities, judges, statutory office holders, senior executives of companies, banks, law firms, developers, valuers and estate agents faced the courts with some of them being sent to jail. And while much of the corruption involved developers this is not to say that all developers are corrupt: many are not. It must be said also that without developers the Australia we know would not exist.    

That corruption arises is best described by Edmund Burke, the nineteenth century British politician who said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Sadly In Queensland, many good men did nothing. Even more sadly, as Tony Fitzgerald recently commented, corruption in Queensland seems to be rearing its head again. 

As to why fixers and corrupt politicians are still with us, is because we have become complacent and our complacency has allowed corruption to flourish not only in Queensland but also across all Australian States.  In Western Australia for example a number of cases of alleging corrupt practice by a former Premier, former politicians and senior bureaucrats are before the courts. To this can be added cases currently before the Victorian courts and recent cases in South Australia and Tasmania that alleged corruption.

In NSW events show quite clearly that complacency in Government allowed corruption to grow to a very high level and as politicians, business people and bureaucrats grew more complacent and corrupt, unsuitable development also grew. Having said that, it must also be said I cannot be charitable to politicians who clearly demonstrate their disregard for the qualities of honesty and integrity they demand of others and which they had promised to bring to Government.

Some people might say that such corruption does not exist in Canberra. They might well be right, but in the way rumours of fixing and corruption that once swirled around boxing and wrestling bouts at the Sydney Stadium, rumours keep swirling around Canberra about the influence of lobbyists, business figures and former politicians. Canberra is fortunate in that that the rumours have come to nothing although some Canberrans think the latter fortunate. On the other hand they are less than sure of Canberra’s fortune.

Rumours aside, many people express the view that the ACT Government has become complacent with some of its members believing that, regardless of their rhetoric of being in Government courtesy of the voter, they see themselves as  “ The Untouchables”.

In political terms they think themselves The Untouchables because, as Canberra is said to be a Labor town, they feel sure that, at the next election, voters won’t remove them from Government.

 Would that I could be as sure of being alive in 2012.     

 For the best Canberra Community News get “The Chronicle.” Published every Tuesday

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