Sunday, July 28, 2013

Karl du Fresne: We don't know how lucky we are

Perhaps our politicians aren’t such a bad lot after all. Consider the following.
British Conservative MP Patrick Mercer recently resigned as party whip after the embarrassing disclosure that undercover reporters had paid him £4000 – part of a promised contract worth £24,000 a year – to ask questions in Parliament, supposedly on behalf of Fijian business interests. Only days later, two Labour peers, Lords Cunningham and Mackenzie, were suspended by their party after being filmed boasting how they could get around House of Lords rules to promote clients’ interests.

For £144,000 a year, Cunningham – a former minister in Tony Blair’s government – offered to host social events on the House of Lords terrace, lobby ministers and arrange parliamentary questions on behalf of a fictitious South Korean solar energy company. An Ulster Unionist peer, Lord Laird, was caught in the same sting and resigned from his party.

The Sunday Times quoted Cunningham as saying to undercover reporters: “Are you suggesting 10,000 pounds a month? Make that 12,000 a month. I think we could do a deal on that.”
The phrase “snouts in the trough” barely begins to describe such venality. And the suspicion is, as Spectator columnist Rod Liddle put it, that all the British politicians are at it – “it’s just that the cameras aren’t there to see them”.

Meanwhile, across the Tasman, the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party has been caught up in a long-running corruption inquiry that upholds Sydney’s reputation as the southern hemisphere's Chicago. 
The Independent Commission Against Corruption heard that disgraced ex-Labor minister Ian Macdonald granted coal exploration licences, in highly suspicious circumstances, to two mates: wealthy Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid and a former union boss, John Maitland. Obeid’s family and friends allegedly stood to make a windfall profit of $100 million.

All this puts our own politicians’ peccadilloes – whether they involve watching hotel porn, behaving like an oick in a Hanmer Springs restaurant or getting too close to an attractive reporter – into perspective. Even Taito Phillip Field, the only New Zealand politician to be convicted of bribery and corruption, looks like Mister Clean by comparison. 
Karl blogs at This article was first published in the Dominion Post.


Anonymous said...

New Zealand - a pimple on a gnat's bottom with an equivalence in political peccadilloes.

Now, were I the overweight South African chef being given the push by NZ immigration on the basis of future risk, I would gladly leave. The country has been publicly and globally betrayed by the those that inhabit the annals of epidemiology and its Ministry-of-we-know-best policies. What will be the next politically incorrect risk factor associated with all cause mortality?
Low IQ? Brown? Single parent family? Premature birth? Hypertension? Raised glycated hemoglobin? Raised cholesterol? Insufficient exercise? Smoking? Absence of tertiary qualification?

Those that seek to control need to show the rest of us that they are indeed able to throw stones in glass houses. This kind of thinking needs to be spurned much as one would a rabid dog.

Brian said...

Corruption has always been with us. although "modified" since the Age of Reason. British politics and politicians being at one time an example to the world.

We should not be too complacent about our own political system. Although it seems that we have not yet, in politics, individually, reached the "heights" of political malpractice as in the UK and other western countries.
Perhaps this is due in some part to our Parliamentary system and its protection ability.
Together with a compliant media which for example, is strangely silent on the Political Implications of the adoption of the Treaty of Waitangi as a part of a new Constitution.

Hypocrisy has been a part of our culture for centuries, however we should not try to terminate it. After all where would the great comic writers from Moliere to the present day be without it?
Let alone our Political Masters!


Auntie Podes said...

We are likened to sheep, but we also share the head-burying-in-the-sand genes of ostriches. Our feelings of security in the belief that we do not have corruption at the top are based on foolish optimism. One only has to look at the convenient arrangements between the Nat's and Maori to see that we are being duped.