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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

WA dirt on full display

If ever a case study is needed to support the argument for transparency in the public sector, the ABC 4 Corners program "The Dark Arts" screened on Monday, fits the bill. The ABC website includes a great collection of resources and links that live up to the dark arts title.

It's the background story to the revelations about the lobbying activities of former Western Australian Premier Brian Burke and former Minister Julian Grill that have so far led to the resignation of three ministers, three ministerial chiefs of staff and one Federal Minister, and caused a bit of pain for Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd along the way. Hidden funding for local council candidates, confidential off-the-record chats and long lunches with ministers and public servants, and lots of special influence, all under a heavy shroud of secrecy.

The WA Crime and Conduct Commission is still to report its findings, so this isn't the last word.

It's also pause for thought that while most states now have an anti corruption complaints body, we still don't have a conduct commission in Canberra to keep an eye on what happens there. And that in all jurisdictions except WA and Victoria, none of our governments show the slightest interest in seeking to regulate the activities of lobbyists.

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