Perhaps our politicians aren’t such a bad lot after all. Consider the following.
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 http://karldufresne.blogspot.co.nz. This article was first published in the Dominion Post.