I’m concerned that so few people understand how politics works in this country.
For example, various people were complaining about Greg Sheridan’s appearance on QandA last night and asking why the ABC feel the need to call on him so regularly. It’s very simple. The ABC’s charter requires balance so, if they’re going to have rational guests who understand what’s going on and say intelligent things, then they’re required to balance that by having Sheridan.
Similarly, calls for a federal anti-corruption body have to be balanced by interviews with people such as Angus Taylor, Barnaby Joyce, Stuart… Well, actually just about any government front bencher.
As for the proposed anti-corruption body itself, complaints about it being a toothless tiger are all wrong. Even without teeth, a tiger could rip you to shreds with its claws while this body will only be allowed to pursue corruption under the following circumstances:
- The corruption is so evident that somebody else has already noticed it and referred it to the appropriate body, which means that the new body has no need to double up on the investigation.
- The corruption is a “serious” crime. Not something like drink driving… which as we saw with the Peta Credlin case if you know the Attorney-General then you can get off with no fine, no conviction and no requirement that you pretend that you’ve even done the wrong thing.
- It is someone on the left side of politics.
- Alan Jones thinks that they should be investigated.
Of course, there are some safeguards to ensure that people don’t have they’re reputations besmirched by an unelected body which isn’t accountable to anyone. For a start, you can only be investigated if it’s clear that you’ve done something wrong. We don’t want innocent people having their name dragged through the mud. And given, everyone is innocent until proven guilty the body will only be allowed to investigate people who’ve already been found guilty by a court of law.
Secondly, so that we don’t have show trials which might be used for political reasons, we’ll have secret accusations with secret trials, which I guess suggests that there’ll be secret findings with secret penalties, but that shouldn’t be a problem because we don’t want people being publicly humiliated just because they’re accused of doing something wrong and that – under the terms of the referral – there’s a strong suspicion of criminal misconduct. As Christian Porter pointed out there have been numerous occasions when people have had their reputations sullied by various state corruption bodies and they hadn’t done anything wrong. Mind you, he didn’t give any actual examples, but it’s enough that he told us that such things had happened and I for one admire that he didn’t drag these people through the mud by talking about their innocence.
Another safeguard is the lack of protection for whistleblowers. This should prevent them from making scandalous accusations. In fact, if a whistleblower has a strong suspicion but no actual evidence, then they’d be best to keep it to themselves rather than bringing to someone’s attention because it could lead to a prosecutable for an unwarranted allegation. This should stop people from interfering into things that don’t concern them such as fraud, bribery and corruption.
The final safeguard seems to be that the Liberals will appoint people to the commission, so there’s a very strong chance that – like Arthur Sinodinos – they’ll have no idea what they’re job is and why they’re being paid, so they’ll be content to do nothing and just take their pay cheque.
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