What the O’Farrell drama really reveals

17 Apr

money-banking-bribe-bribing-sponsors-sponsoring-politically_corrupt-jsh120716lEx NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell had a spectacular fall from grace yesterday, after first categorically denying he had ever received a $3000 bottle of wine from ICAC person of interest Nick De Girolamo, then being forced, after the revelation of a thank-you note in his own handwriting, to admit indeed there had been such a gift, but he had completely forgotten about it.

Whatever the ins and outs of the situation, and I am certain there are many and they are likely rather twisty, what stands out for me is the sense of entitlement that allows a politician to accept, and probably expect, that gifts will come his or her way, simply because the people have elected them to high office.

A $3000 bottle of wine is no small present, and not one most people are likely to forget, if we accept O’Farrell’s explanation that he did indeed lose his memory of it. How many expensive gifts does one receive before one begins to lose track of them, and why should any politician be showered with such largesse in the first place?

What is repeatedly revealed by ongoing ICAC investigations is a long line of politicians from both sides apparently steeped in a sense of entitlement that is rather difficult to understand. They are elected to do a job. They are paid for their efforts. If they manage to stay in office for a few years, they are assured of a generous life-long pension, and they don’t have to wait until they’re seventy to claim it. Depending on their position, there are generous perks. Yes, they work hard if they are any good, but so do millions of other people.

Why should politicians be permitted to accept any gifts at all? Expensive gifts are clearly offered in order to seduce politicians to particular ways of thinking and acting that will benefit the donors. How can this be justified in any circumstances ?

What O’Farrell did or didn’t do matters, of course, and there will continue to be lengthy speculation on his actions and his character. For mine, the urgent issue here is the culture of entitlement that dominates and inevitably corrupts our politics, to the degree that we now measure the worth of politicians according to their likely level of corruption. Forbidding all gifts to politicians would go some way to addressing this entitlement culture.  When gifts come from those whose sole aim is to influence decisions in their favour, there is no question but that they must be declined.

By the way, if you need a good laugh, this exchange on Lateline last night between Gerard Henderson of the Sydney Institute, and journalist Kate McClymont on the O’Farrell scandal, is hilarious.

21 Responses to “What the O’Farrell drama really reveals”

  1. gerard oosterman April 17, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    As for the Liberal party being an abusive boys club. As far as I know, Australia’s history has not thrown up any female Liberal state Premier. Odd, isn’t it? There have been a couple of Chief woman ministers though.
    It is clearly a party for the big boys. I can just see them around the barbecue dressed in shiny blue shorts, ramping up diatribe against refugees, women and other impediments to progress, while tugging at their dicks. Discussing football and bragging the latest root they (didn’t) had ( did not achieve being too pissed). Regaling the hilarious private school adventures around the dorms flushing Ernie’s head held down in the toilet.
    Of course, the Grange Hermitage a logical conclusion, so much more decent and healthy than visits to massage parlours.


  2. Cranky Pants Noely (@YaThinkN) April 17, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    So glad to see this. Sick to death of apologist stuff as obviously all the journo’s seem to think that Barry O’Farrell was a really decent bloke & didn’t deserve to get pinged. For all I know he might be. Point is, we have a system in place where as you say, pollies get gifts & they don’t get them for ‘nothing’. We should take away ALL gifts and other inducements like restaurant invites, footy games etc. as well. If there were absolutely no inducements on offer of any kind then there is no way lobbyists & vested interest groups could get a special hearing that other interested parties (ie us the public) don’t get. As you say, they all get paid well above the average award wage, they don’t need the inducements, so just remove them altogether, it works in many businesses.


    • doctorrob54 April 17, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

      How many other expensive gifts has O’Farrell received that actually make a $3000 bottle of win insignificant.
      It is not even the gift that makes him a arsehole,it’s the fact that he lied about that makes him pathetic.


    • paul walter April 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

      Cranky Pants Noely…it’s been hilarious that…Greiner last night on 730 was almost amising until you realised he is the mad uncle and apologist for naked graft.and Kenny at the SMH ruined an otherwise reasonable summary with the “good bloke” meme.

      Further to what you say above in your accurate summary, he and his confrateres are not “good blokes” (or sheilas if you include Pru Goward). they are harsh carpetbaggers,, like Abbott, Hockey and co… just ask people in public housing in NSW.


  3. gerard oosterman April 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    NSW….43 premiers
    QLD….38 premiers
    SA…..45 premiers
    TAS….45 premiers
    VIC….36 premiers
    WA…..29 premiers

    236 premiers.
    Not one female Liberal premier ever… Abbott…. We are ‘a broad church?’
    Clearly a boys club denying females the same status.


  4. Marilyn April 17, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    I love it that the corrupt lieberal party are now being pinged. But I still do not like this sort of ICAC star chamber where reputations are ruined but no criminal charges are ever laid.


    • paul walter April 17, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      Don t worry about it… ICAC is an invention of the politicians themselves..O’Feral and co were quite happy to see a star chamber in full flight until they slipped up with their mansplanations and got hoist on their own petard.

      What amazes me is, despite the presence of these sorts of bodies for quite some time, there is still a never ending flow of politicians from both major groupings through them to cop grief for their sins, real or imagined.

      Paul Keating is said to have said, more or less, never get between politicians and a bucket of money and it seems to apply triply as to graft involving developers, shonks and the like.


  5. doug quixote April 17, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    A very fair reading, Jennifer.

    My reservation is that yet another god-botherer has climbed into a position of power, as Mike Baird has now become Premier.

    Poor old Gerard (Henderson, that is) really has lost the plot. 🙂


  6. hudsongodfrey April 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    What a complete fool Henderson made of himself, being so in denial he was almost like a child having a tantrum. I’m so glad Kate McClymont held her nerve with him.

    As for the case in point. Truth is we’ve far from any guarantee O’Farrell’s replacement will be better so I doubt there’s much to celebrate in getting rid of the guy.

    Henderson won’t concede it, but if he hadn’t tried to lie before the commission then O’Farrell’s indiscretion might even have been repairable. I think you could run a version of the Clinton defence there; if the leader of the free world couldn’t enjoy not quite having intercourse then what chance would there be for the rest of us? In this case substitute wine for what Clinton got and you have indulgence, but at a level I think we ought to regard as trivial.

    Its the outright lie we rightly reject and no mistake about it. In fact I’d go further to say that regardless of what Henderson thinks conveniently developing a selective memory isn’t credible either. The only thing would have been credible is that had O’Farrell admitted it then feigning outrage for partisan political reasons would make his opponents look equally as ridiculous as Henderson now does.

    I see it as a pity in a way, and wonder whether I’m alone in not giving a shit if the Premier scores a bottle of plonk or Craig Thomson managed to organise a root in a brothel, if only they’d fess up in the first place and as servants of the public accept our judgement. Who knows whether they might even find us inclined to generosity. Or at least I’d rather it was the case that if the Premier is deemed unfit for his office then it should be on the merits of how he fulfils the role in some matter more material to the running of the State.

    I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m excusing O’Farrell here. I’m not! But his error was in the lie. What I’m ill at ease with are attacks on people’s character in politics, they lead to muckraking and dirt squads that we know both parties operate. The one minor aspect in where I think Henderson has a point, albeit one he’s using disingenuously, is in saying that if ICAC becomes a tool for politically driven character assassination rather investigating serious illegality then clearly it could be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.


    • doctorrob54 April 18, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      My feelings exactly,the fact he felt he had to lie,then continue knowingly lying is pathetic and corrupt in itself.The fact he didn’t declare it as a gift ,considering it was to congratulate an election win,I think he should/would have been excused.But if he didn’t deliberately lie he must have early stage alzhiemers,Either way,the man had to go.


      • hudsongodfrey April 18, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

        Yes I agree. It was almost funny that he knew it and Henderson doesn’t.


  7. paul walter April 18, 2014 at 2:31 am #

    The Henderson McClymont thing is outrageous..

    The bottle of plonk is not the issue,either, the issue is the entrenched culture of corruption and entitlement identified in Jennifer Wilson’s post that has public assets worth $ billions, usually involving essential; services raffled off by which ever faction of lab-lib that has government, behind legislative walls that neutralise tendering processes, transparency and open government and strike at he very bases for a civil society in a democracy..

    If O’Feral is too incompetent to remember a $3000 bottle of plonk, it certainly seems probable he would not have understood who sent the bag man and why, and taken the bottle of plonk.

    In which case he would have also been in a deep sleep over the previous two decades as to privatisation in NSW, something even the village idiot knows of as to operationality and outcomes. Waking from this Van Winkle like sleep he would not have known about water privatisation schemes, who was involved and why.

    But since there was no malice involved, perhaps we can be relieved that someone this mentally impaired has been removed from government.

    And since he is a “nice bloke” we now know that his ugly policies directed against welfare housing recipients concerning gas frcking and new legislation further moving the goalposts in favour of property developers were just good- faith bungles as well.

    Poor Barry.

    He can now be wheeled out to join the straight jacketed Henderson for the trip to the Cuckoo’s Nest nursing home.


    • doctorrob54 April 18, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

      Well said Paul,well done,just what I was trying to say,cheers.


  8. paul walter April 18, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    dr54…the next stage seems to be about speculation that the hard right of the Liberal party actually set up O’Farrell because he wasn’t conservative enough.. for my part Turnbull was also set up by the same forces.

    As for some of Labor’s recent antics, the less said the better also and most of it has already been said anyway.

    It can get depressing, politics, if you follow it for any length of time.


    • doctorrob54 April 18, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

      Yes,can see where you are coming,and nothing surprises now days.


  9. paul walter April 18, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    Thanks mate..so many useful things laid to waste by ant-brains.


  10. doug quixote April 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Hi Jennifer. I think you may have to close off the older threads.

    The bots find them irresistible.


    • paul walter April 28, 2014 at 12:28 am #

      Yes, who are these DICKHEADS?

      It would be a tragedy if the older threads were blocked, there is a mine of material tracing some interesting issues and their development over time.


  11. DS May 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Public servants aren’t allowed to accept any gifts – as they must remain neutral in the execution of their duties for the government of the day. Interesting this doesn’t apply to politicians. We do expect politicians to stand for something, but it would be nice if their beliefs were not for sale….


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