Please front up to the Royal Commission and let it know about the folly of its "bizarre pursuit of the complete non-scandal surrounding the Australian Workers Union and Julia Gillard’s time as a labour lawyer".
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Perhaps the most telling aspect of the now infamous thank-you note that ended Barry O’Farrell’s premiership this week is that it was sent so soon after his bone-crushing election victory. This was a man who swept to power thanks largely to the insufferable stench of corruption that had engulfed NSW Labor. Thus was Labor’s position apparently unrecoverable, and O’Farrell apparently invincible. All he had to do was stay clean.
And yet, there he was, personally accepting an expensive gift from compromised people, marking his gratitude in ink. I’m prepared to believe he genuinely has no recollection of this. But that only underscores the fact that he saw nothing remarkable about the exchange at all; that even as he must have been hawk-eyed about anything that even remotely connected to the corruption that destroyed Labor, he saw this kind of give and take as standard practice.
And on this score, he’s probably right. It’s highly unlikely O’Farrell has a uniquely malfunctioning radar, or that he is more corruptible than his colleagues. Au contraire, the truly remarkable fact is that the Liberals who have been so entangled in this Obeidian octopus have been those widely acknowledged as the best, the straightest, the most upright of them: O’Farrell and Arthur Sinodinos.
That tells us plenty. Not so much about the character of these men, but about the nature of the world they routinely inhabit. Until now, the story of NSW corruption has been presented as a thoroughly Labor one, backed at the federal level by the spectre of union corruption so vast it now demands its own royal commission. At every opportunity, the Liberal Party has sought to make this connection. Hence its bizarre pursuit of the complete non-scandal surrounding the Australian Workers Union and Julia Gillard’s time as a labour lawyer, or its constant references to the faceless men of Sussex Street upon Kevin Rudd’s knifing.