Saturday, August 02, 2008

Lony history of corruption

In our fight against political donations, I have occasion to mention the recorded case of NSW Premier Robert Askin receiving $15,000 in a brown paper bag in relation to a development proposal. I then encounter raised eyebrows. Many people just do not want to believe this. But it is necessary to fully appreciate how deeply embedded is this practice in NSW.

More on donations is now emerging from Alan Saffron’s biography of his father Abe Saffron in his forthcoming book Gentle Satan. The Sydney Morning Herald reveals that at one stage Abe Saffron was paying Askin (and the police commissioner) $5000 to $10,000 per week. And that was in the money of the 1960s and 1970s. Alan says Askin was totally corrupt. “In his early years as premier Askin would meet Saffron at restaurants at arranged times and speak to him on the phone regularly. But as Saffron came to the attention of law enforcement agencies intermediates were used”. He says Askin was also the recipient of payments via horse races that were fixed as “a courtesy to premier Askin”!

It is noteworthy that 11 developers received knighthoods from Askin.

But our battle against political corruption, started in 1999, is making progress. The report of the Select Committee on Electoral and Political Party Funding is out with many worthwhile recommendations. We need to work hard at getting them adopted.

No comments: