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.