"ICAC exposes the NSW Legislature as the most corrupt parliament in Australian history"
- Category: NSW Independant Commission Against Corruption
- Created: Thursday, 28 August 2014 09:39
- Written by Daily Telegraph - Miles Godfrey
YOU walk up the stone steps onto an ageing red carpet, past a gallery of former speakers and into the house of disgrace.
Welcome to the most corrupt parliament in Australian history — the NSW Legislature.
In nine months, 11 Liberal politicians have resigned, stepped down or moved to the crossbenches amid corruption investigations. Labor’s ship has been equally rat-infested, with names like Obeid, Macdonald, Kelly and Tripodi now bywords for the stink in Macquarie St.
“You’d probably find maggots if you dug the foundations,” one former state MP said.
NSW’s corruption shame can be traced back to 2007, when Morris Iemma won Labor’s fourth successive term in government. The sense of entitlement that came with 16 years in power was irresistible to some MPs, who treated parliament as a personal fiefdom and rorted the system to benefit themselves.
“It’s almost as though ICAC did not exist and that they were not worrying about where the legal boundary was, let alone the ethical ones,” said Professor Gary Sturgess, the Greiner government cabinet secretary who set up the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 1988.
“These people were just simply not looking at the law and saying, ‘well there’s the line and you can’t cross it’.”
That changed in 2009 when then premier Nathan Rees appointed David Ipp as ICAC commissioner and the watchdog grew some balls.
“For a long time ICAC lost its way — people just did not think it mattered,” Prof Sturgess said of the period before Mr Ipp.
If ICAC had been firing blanks before 2009, it soon started launching bombs. And the cluster of Labor MPs that have been in its crosshairs is long and disgraceful.
The nightmare is still very current for the Liberals — and the astonishing thing about the current ICAC inquiries into illegal developer donations is that nobody knows where it will all end.
Recent polling confirms the Coalition should still win the 2015 election, despite the Liberals’ deep involvement in corruption scandals.
But Prof Sturgess believes a range of micro parties will contest the poll — and some of them could get in as angry voters turn their backs on Labor and the Coalition.
That will make life tough for whoever wins government next year — but they’ll likely only have themselves to blame.
CONTRARY CORRUPTION WITNESS IS WARNED OF FIVE YEARS' JAIL FOR LYING
AN executive with Nathan Tinkler’s development company Buildev was yesterday warned — twice — while giving evidence to ICAC that he could face five years in jail for lying to the corruption watchdog.
Darren Williams was warned once by commissioner Megan Latham and then by counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson SC that he was repeatedly contradicting evidence he had previously given as recently as Wednesday.
Mr Williams yesterday disagreed with evidence that a Tinkler company had paid a Liberal Party slush fund to gain access to senior MPs, even though previously accepting this was the case.
Mr Watson said he had to warn Mr Williams he was “exposing” himself to five years’ jail as he was “contradicting sworn testimony”.
ICAC is investigating the involvement of Liberal MPs including former energy minister Chris Hartcher and former police minister Michael Gallacher in soliciting illegal donations from prohibited donors ahead of the 2011 election.
Nine Liberal MPs, including Mr Gallacher and Mr Hartcher, have been forced to stand down or resign since the donations inquiry began.
The warning came after a day of heightened tempers, with Ms Latham forced to rein in a war of words between Mr Watson and Mr Gallacher’s barrister Arthur Moses SC.
After a series of objections by Mr Moses in which he complained about corruption allegations made against former ministers, Ms Latham said: “There is no one in the executive arm of government or otherwise who is above the reach of this commission”.