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Labor sleaze?

I assume we will wait in vain for left-leaning blogs to acknowledge the depth of the sleaze currently being revealed in Australia’s governing State Labor parties – the newsletter Crikey at least mentions the issues.

In Victoria ex Labor politicians and party hacks are in bed with the gambling companies that impose huge costs primarily on disadvantaged, working class Labor voters. Bracks’ Labor Government seem to have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in what can be at best be described as dubious PPP-arrangements – Kenneth Davison, hardly a supporter of the political right, has called for an inquiry into Victorian PPPs with the powers of a royal commission. It may only be economic illiteracy but there is a stench of something worse about some of these deals. Mr. Bracks has lost his youthful, honest-looking appeal and looks increasingly the greaser politician – ‘the well-drilled schtick’.

In NSW the Labor Premier Di-Lemma has sacked his Aboriginal Affairs Minister Milton Orkopoulos, and asked that he resign from parliament, over claims he sexually abused 2 underage boys and supplied them with drugs. Mr Orkopoulos has previously spoken out against child sexual abuse in aboriginal communities. Well said Orky, I think? The sacking story was significant enough to make the Washington Post and, in further claims, it is asserted that Di-Lemma knew about the allegations before they became public. NSW is currently the worst-performing regional economy in Australia and with only 20 weeks to go Di-Lemma must be worried – a party close to facing disintegration facing perhaps the most serious scandal in a decade.

Don’t underestimate the implications of this event – it is potentially the biggest scandal to hit the Labor Party since former ALP Opposition Leader Keith Wright was jailed for raping a young girl. I also recall that Senator Bob Collins faces charges in a Northern Territory Court shortly on child sex charges relating to a 12 year old boy. All the bad news seems to be hitting Labor simultaneously and, yes, I know, only charges have been made at this time, and all these Labor luminaries may be declared innocent.

Mr. Di-Lemma has had other recent problems with Minister Scully sacked last week for ‘misleading’ parliament twice while Minister Hickey revealed a series of speeding fines on his taxpayer funded car. And what should Di-Lemma do about backbencher Gibson who NSW rural fireboss Koperberg has accused of spreading dirt about him after having an affair with his wife – Gibson is an important ALP man who channels donations into the party machine from the pubs and who is widely feared in the party.

In WA Premier Carpenter has had to sack Minister Marlborough after setting up a secret phone line to take instructions from jailed ex Premier Labor crook Brian Burke. Burke is acting for property developers and carpenter could not guarantee that secret information had not been passed on to Bouke. The tapes recording the Marlborough- Bourke conversations are apparently explosive.

Finally, this morning the Australian this morning records that businessman Ken Talbot gave a $300,000 loan to senior Beattie Government cabinet minister, Gordon Nuttall. Small bikkies perhaps but the obvious question: Why not borrow from a bank and why are the parties shy about discussing precise terms of the loan and such mundane issues as repayment. I guess this scandal is at least well-timed given that the state election has just been held.

As Mark Latham noted, in his recent book, the Labor Party at all levels is increasingly the party of machine politics and party hacks. What has happened to honesty and honour in public life? And where is critical commentary from the left on this mess of issues?

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