“Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.”
So said Old Major, the spiritual leader of the pigs in George Orwell's magnificent novel Animal Farm.
Another great philosopher who himself had something to do with pigs, Paul Keating, was fond of saying: “In the race of life, always back self-interest - at least you know it's trying”.
I must clarify that when I refer to our former PM and pigs I do not mean his political colleagues. Instead, it is in recollection of the allegations that were made against Paul Keating, never proved, by his disgruntled business partner in a piggery.
Keating denied any wrongdoing and a subsequent Liberal government chose not to pursue the allegations.
Politicians involved in corruption is no new thing. One of the central themes of Animal Farm is that power corrupts. So it is not surprising to see the recent reports of serving parliamentarians being arrested for fraud and the sensational evidence currently being given before the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Indeed, if one believes that corruption is an innate human behaviour then it is surprising that more politicians don’t get caught with their hand in the till.
To counter the potential for political corruption it is important to have a strong independent judiciary, and of course vice versa in case any Judges get out of hand.
There has been any number of elected parliamentarians convicted of offences involving dishonesty over the years. Joh Bjelke Petersen made an art form of corruption.
And don’t think that politicians being involved when there is money to be made from mining is anything new. The so-called Mungana Affair in 1929 was investigated by a Royal Commission and implicated the Queensland premier Ted Theodore.
My particular favourite though has to be Michael Cobb, The National Party member for Parkes from 1984 to 1998. He of the born to rule set was convicted of misappropriating his travel allowances.
I think from memory the allegation was that he would sleep in his car on the side of the road and claim an hotel expense. Ingenious stuff really.
Section 44(ii) of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act states that a person who "has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State by imprisonment for one year or longer" cannot be elected for or maintain a seat in the Senate or in the House of Representatives.
Unless you have been under a rock you will know that Craig Thompson has been charged with numerous counts of fraud. The reality is that unless he pleads guilty his charges will not see a final trial before the federal election in September this year. Therefore technically he will be able to stand again as a candidate for the seat of Dobell. On one view of it he is perfectly qualified to be a parliamentarian. As I understand the allegations that are made against him he was sleeping but not in his car!
The allegations against Eddie Obeid and Ian MacDonald, both former state Labor politicians, are much more problematic.
If the allegations are proven then it is difficult to see how the mining leases created from their alleged dodgy dealings and the rigged tender process are legal. If it all comes out this will create an enormous problem.
I was discussing how to best run a Rugby club with Andrew Logan and we both agree with the words of another political philosopher Voltaire; "The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination."
Whiteley Ironside & Shillington