Thursday, August 17, 2006

NSW Politics & "Corruption"

Political Parties in NSW are facing an interesting time in between now and the election next March. We voters need to take a keen interest in what has happened and the activities of Ministers, Premiers/former Premiers and the Liberal and Labor Parties' pre-selection of candidates.

Today's news carries information about:
  • Joe Tripodi, former backbench member and now Minister in NSW. It seems at some point he has, through a small company, acquired Government land which has been used for purposes opposed by Councils; environmental officers and ratepayers. His company has bought, then sold government land, to his wife.

    There might NOT have been anything illegal in his behaviour: that is now a matter for ICAC.

    The Premier, MR Iemma, is promising to tighten disclosure laws, but is being publicly cautioned by Bob Carr, immediate past Premier of NSW and now consultant to Macquarie Bank. While there is a Parliamentary Ethics Committee, I believe it would be prudent to have outrside ethical and legal specialists determine appropriate standards of behaviour for MPs.

  • This raises another issue. Should former Premiers, Ministers or members of a government be able to work for companies with which they had direct political contact immediately upon retirement from Parliament?? There have been Premiers from both Liberal and Labor governments that have done this. Mostly, these companies have benefited from significant amounts of public money, and have offered jobs to Premiers almost upon retirement. Is/was there a conflict of interest?? Who knows.

    I believe it would be ethically appropriate for politicians, especially Ministers and Premiers, and senior Publiuc Servants to not work for companies with whom they have had cause to work while in office; at least for a period of 4 years (1 parliamentary term)

  • And what of Party "branch-stacking"? Major political parties have long done it, but it can only create the perception of corruptin from within. Prue Goward, Liberal Party member who wants preselection for the safe seat of Epping, is reported by the SMH (7-Aug-06) as saying, on Monday:
"A lot of women … don't like the machinations and the deal-making, ... But, it's a test of character … Are you prepared to be corrupted? Are you prepared to make deals with people about planning laws and other things that you just might do for them if they vote for you?"

Isn't it time there were properly instituted laws regarding membership and voting requirements for party preselection. I suggest the following: Only 1 preselection vote per election. If you have already voted in preselection for seat X, you cannot transfer to branch Y and vote again; and members must have at least 6 months membership, and attendance at a branch before being eligible to vote in a preselection ballot.

The Analyst