Saturday, February 13, 2010

Political Ethics & Standards Vary

Political ethics and standards of responsibility vary depending on whether a party in in government, or opposition. Consider the following.

Peter Garrett has had a tough week with calls for him to be sacked as Minister for the Environment. The cause: his government's policy of funding insulation in houses. There have been house fires, and deaths of 4 workers employed to install insulation. The Coalition Opposition, led by Tony Abbott, accused Mr Garrett of ignoring 13 warnings about aluminium foil insulation, and the use of metal staples. My understanding is that this is not cause for sacking/resignation, although he must be accountable to Parliament for the policy. The blame must lie with the employers, who bear responsibility for the standard of work, and worker safety. On Channel 7's Today Tonight program, one employee indicated he'd done a Certificate 4 in Insulation Installation in 2 days' training! The course requires 4 units of competency, and I question whether long-term competency can be achieved in that time. Nevertheless, the Opposition has been baying for blood, insisting on Ministerial standards. However, the current Coalition Opposition, when in government 3 years ago (2007), saw no need for an inquiry, or sacking of then Minister, Kevin Andrews, over the deaths of 3 foreign workers under the 457 Visa Scheme which he implemented. They did nothing. The then Opposition, now Labor Government, called it "revolting".

In NSW this week, Labor Premier Kristina Keneally refused to stand down Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Karyn Paluzzano. Ms Paluzzano has been referred to ICAC over allegations she used public money to help fund her (re)election. Premier Keneally has also publicly ridiculed and, possibly tried to intimidate, the whistleblower. Ms Keneally's actions have now been referred to ICAC by the Police Commissioner. Ms Paluzzano is a member of the NSW Labor Right Faction, which installed Ms Keneally as Premier. The Coalition Opposition has called for her to be stood down as Parliamentary Secretary unitl the ICAC investigation is over.

So, politicians apply different standards of ethics and behaviour depending on whether they are in Government or Opposition, & possibly whether their colleague voted for them as leader. Hypocrisy, from all parties?? You decide.