Corruption and influence

The New South Wales ICAC hearings into the activities of Eddie Obeid and his cronies are just appalling – the scale of the alleged rort is mind-boggling.

Except it occurs to me this kind of out-and-out corruption is pretty small beer, in many ways, in terms of the damage it inflicts.

Obeid’s alleged improprieties are claimed to have netted him, and his associates, something in the order of 100 million dollars.

By contrast, the campaign against the mining tax is estimated to have cost the Australian government 7.5 billion dollars in potential revenue over the first two years of operation alone.

Problem gambling is estimated to cost Victorians alone well over $1 billion per year; attempts to regulate just one aspect of this – pokies – have been largely stymied by the pokies lobby.

James Packer seems destined to be gifted a second casino licence for Sydney. What would that be worth on the open market?

And, for that matter, I wonder just how high the societal costs of the taxi monopoly is.

I’m not saying for a moment that any of the lobbying that took place (or might take place) to achieve these outcomes was illegal. It’s just that the scale of the effects – of enriching a few politically-favoured souls at the expense of the majority of Australians – likely dwarfs the costs of out-and-out corruption.

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4 Responses to Corruption and influence

  1. Iain Hall says:

    You seem to be drawing a rather long bow in an effort to down play corruption within the Labor party here Robert, the problem with corruption has far more to do with a betrayal of trust than the monetary cost and makes your comparisons rather pointless.

    • Perhaps you’re misinterpreting me. I’m not apologizing for the likes of the Obeids, Iain.
      And the phenomenon I’m trying to illustrate isn’t exactly party political. Labor does plenty of similar things.
      But, yes, monetary cost matters. Geoff Shaw’s actions are utterly outrageous, but is he as bad as what’s being alleged about NSW Labor?

  2. wilful says:

    I was at an integrity conference last week (where Senator Faulkner’s keynote address created a few minor ripples), and a general distinction between out and out corruption and lack of integrity was made. There’s not that much corruption in Australian politics, but where there is it must be stamped out vigorously, but there is a lot, a very great deal of lack of integrity, in the public service and politicians (it’s almost excusable in private enterprise, it’s kind of expected). So many examples I could think if, it’s really a bit sickening. These people will never be called to account, they’re “players” and people who matter. Your average person who believes in public service as an actual service and in the rule of law and the primacy of Parliament and all that boring unfashionable stuff will never become a player, will never prosper.

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