Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Monday, 26 January 2015

Queensland - an Ethics Free Zone

Pic: AAP - Dan Peled

Back to work this week - heading west, so there won't be time for any blogging prior to the state election.
With that in mind, I'm posting this today.

It's a great piece by Gary Crooke QC who was senior counsel assisting the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987-89) into Queensland Police corruption. He was Queensland Integrity Commissioner 2004-2009. He is (like me) now "retired".

It goes to the heart of the malaise that has overcome government in this state, and is a timely warning about the risk of electing a government with the kind of majority that encourages the blatant abuse of power we've seen in the last three years.

Those of us who lived through the Joh era are experiencing a real sense of deja vu, and sadly, there doesn't seem to be a new Tony Fitzgerald (or for that matter a Gary Crooke) on the horizon. There's something about Queensland that creates Tammany Hall style politics every now and again, almost by default. It's disturbing that this behaviour is not entirely rejected by Labor, given the emergence of cash-for-access to Labor politicians during the campaign.

The lack of an Upper House doesn't help.

The LNP, however have honed this anti-democratic practice to a very fine art. As Crooke writes -

Take the example of a controversial property or mining development. What is the perception of a reasonable person if the well-resourced applicant pays to sup with the decision maker while the objector is not only not invited, but cannot afford the tariff imposed? What is on offer? As former minister, and now prisoner, Gordon Nuttall now famously said at his trial: "Nothing is for nothing."

So, in Queensland, if you have money to spend, it will buy you influence. The more money you have, the more influence it will buy. Wonderful stuff.....

God help the pensioners, the unemployed, or for that matter, the vast majority of voters who can't stump the necessary four or five figure sums to get the ear of those who make the decisions. Democracy it isn't.

As Crooke writes -

It is here that we come to a consideration as to the use or abuse of executive power. Given the wide remit reposed in the government, proper public administration demands careful consideration of basic rights and liberties when exercising almost boundless power. The situation is made only more fraught when there is a decimated opposition, no upper house, no bill of rights, parliamentary committees set at nought, and the major local newspaper not prepared to put issues before the public, but always pursuing a line which it decides to take.

Read the whole thing, and have a quiet thought about the future of democracy in this great state.

And think very carefully before you grab your ID (compulsory now in Queensland - we have to be sure the riff-raff don't get to vote) and head off to the polling booth.

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