There’s been far too much adulation from the media for the former Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, who took the decision to resign from Parliament, after the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption declared she is a person of interest in a corruption investigation.
Politicians are not rock stars, and journalists are not their groupies, even though that’s how they behave: too close to action; too close to the people they seem to love. And too close to report and analyze without fear or favour. And their love of Berejiklian means that they mourn her resignation like the loss of a close friend, rather than focusing on the allegations of corruption.
As Paul Keating once said, if you want a friend in politics, get a dog. Politicians are not rock stars; they are there to do a job in the interests of the public, and we want them to be competent. Leave the rock star business (and the song and dance) to the real rock stars, and then the media can investigate what political leaders get up to behind the scenes. And it’s an untidy and messy sight.
Perhaps if the mainstream media performed the job they are supposed to do – make powerful people accountable to the public – Berejiklian might have thought twice about engaging in activities that are now the focus of the NSW ICAC.
And all of this has resulted in a new Premier in NSW, Dominic Perrottet. We’re not sure how long he’ll last – because he might also be receiving a few phone calls from the NSW ICAC over the iCare state insurance scandal – and NSW might be looking for another Premier before the next NSW election, due in March 2023.
And why is the federal government so fearful of a federal commission against corruption? We’ve estimated that if a federal ICAC was created according to existing state and territory guidelines, at least 11 sitting government Members of Parliament would be the subject of inquiries – and that’s just based on the information that’s publicly available. So, it’s obvious why they’re not introducing a federal ICAC – they’d be the first ones to appear in dock. That’s the only reason they’ve been so reluctant to create a federal ICAC with retrospective powers.
It might be up to Labor to introduce such a body – but only if they’re sure that none of their MPs will be dragged into such a commission – and, obviously, a federal ICAC can only happen if they win the next federal election. It will never occur under a Liberal–National Coalition, they have too much to lose.