The NACC is Needed

It's clear that the stench of politics now needs an independent assessor to keep corruption at bay.

The NACC is Needed
Photo by Aditya Joshi / Unsplash

I saw some incredible things during my time as a politician.

Dishonesty and dissembling were a daily occurrence and it didn’t take long to work out there are two types of people in the game.

The difference is not actually left and right or wet and dry.  

The real divide is between those who are honest and those who are not.

In my experience, some politicians were just lying to themselves.

For whatever reason they didn’t want the public to officially know their true thoughts or behaviours. That’s not good for them or their families but self-denial isn’t a crime. It’s more a sign of insecurity.

But there were also people who would just brazenly lie to others.

Not occasionally but seemingly all the time. It got to a point where you just presumed everything they said was built around a self-serving falsehood.

Sometimes this was to colleagues - making empty promises in the full knowledge they would betray them. That’s how some political operatives were always on the winning side of any contest.

Sometimes they would lie to the media - usually about colleagues - in an attempt to denigrate or damage a rival.

Victims of that, like Tony Abbott for example, learned that too late in the piece and it cost him his Prime Ministership. And yes, he was warned repeatedly about the Judas’ in his mix.

Strangely, the liars used to stick together - even across party divides.

They had a mutual protection racket going because no matter what their political leanings, they were all hostile to the truth tellers.

That cross party relationship is how their own scandals were quickly covered up or hushed away, again, often with the support of compliant journalists.

It’s not good but once you knew what you were dealing with you just accepted the swamp is inhabited by all sorts of vile creatures and it’s hard to politically kill them all.

Despite this experience dealing with brazen dishonesty, I never really saw the need for a corruption tribunal of any sort. I thought there were enough truth tellers to speak up and expose the potential conflicts.

I no longer think that.

There are now so many questions surrounding the conduct of politicians that it’s obvious that we do need an independent body to investigate them.

Politicians are simply not willing or able to investigate themselves or their colleagues. There’s always tradeoffs and threats that prevent the full truth from being exposed.

That’s about to change though because the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) kicks off in July.

I’m suggesting it will have a full book of referrals pretty smartly after it begins.

There are simply too many examples of mates being enriched by government contracts or big payments being made for questionable reasons not to have them pursued by outside investigators.

They fall on both sides of the political aisle too.

In that sense, I have no dog in this fight except that I want to see our Parliament once again have the respect of the Australian people.

Right now I don’t think that’s the case.

It’s too self serving and too remote. It’s too full of political operatives who aim to spend a lifetime on the public purse or peddling influence on how to access taxpayers money.

That means that fewer of us now believe anything we are told by government because it is always about their interests rather than ours.

That’s the stuff of cronyism found in banana republics.

The fall happens slowly at first and then all at once.

I believe we are close to the tipping point where the system itself will come under enormous pressure. It’s certainly not fit for purpose as it currently stands.

Only time will tell if the NACC will be able to clean out the crooks and restore some confidence to one of our most important public institutions.

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