SOWING SEEDS: Baillieu confirms Independent Commission Against Commission by mid-2011

icacmyself There is probably less public-sector corruption in Victoria than most monasteries.

Transparency International – the NGO that studies and combats corruption around the world – says Australia is one of the most corruption-free countries on Earth.

But where well-funded “broad-based” Independent Commissions Against Corruption exist, they manage to find things.

Embarrassing, stupid things usually. Politically damaging. Petty crap.

Technical breaches of this and that but not corruption in the way we normally understand it. The number of people willing to pay or receive bribes for decisions is miniscule. Hence the international recognition of how clean our governments are.

The way ICACs, including the WA Corruption and Crime Commission work is that they justify their huge budgets by generating the biggest number of headlines embarrassing the prominent as possible. And in so doing they create a false impression that the public service and politics is riddled with wrongdoing and corruption.

And it appears that in the first year of the Baillieu government such a body will be created. Confirmed at the same press conference Baillieu pledged no spin (while VEXNEWS knows for certain that media advisers/spinners are being identified for hiring as we write).

This ICAC will be headed by someone the government presumably trusts.

But staffed by the kinds of people who think they should work at an ICAC. Naturally those applying are self-selecting. There’ll be $40 million allocated to hiring them. That’s a lot of ex-cops, grumpy public servants and accountants who couldn’t get hired by KPMG.

In our observation the people who end up at these bodies are self-righteous, idealistic and thuggish people who believe they are on a mission from the deity of their choice. They haven’t met a politician they didn’t think was secretly crooked.

We saw it in the conduct of the Victorian Ombudsman where a man who can only be described as a junkyard dog – Lachlan McCulloch – an embittered ex-Drug Squad cop who had to leave VicPol – pursued some Brimbank councillors as if they were Al Capone. They did nothing wrong in reality, despite a scathing report authored by McCulloch’s colleagues, and treatment by The Age so contemptible that on that day we resolved to persist in this kind of publishing until the day that foul journal shuts its doors. We will speak truth to their power til we pop the champagne cork on the Media House lawn as The Age masthead comes down. It might not be far away. None of the Brimbank slagged were ever charged with any offence of any kind. But the resulting stink was enough to cost good people their jobs and hurt their reputations.

The Ombudsman’s misconduct and thuggishness was tempered by laws that – at least during the investigation – restricted reporting on its unsubstantiated claims. It was restricted from investigating many targets whose headline-generating potential is vast like politicians.

The ICAC Baillieu has promised will have no such limits. It will not follow the recommendations of the independent Proust inquiry into the right kind of structure to make it work with as little destruction as possible.

There will be no time – it seems – for another review by someone appropriate for a Liberal government.

Instead Baillieu will rush to introduce a body that will – mark our words – provide endless comfort to his political enemies in the Opposition, the media and elsewhere.

He might fantasise that it will only hunt the Opposition but it won’t. Their area of responsibility is now restricted to 20 staff over in the European side of Spring Street. ICAC will inevitably focus on the government.

That’s why the good Liberal PM John Howard didn’t introduce a federal one.

That’s why Baillieu should not have promised it in the first place. Creating an ICAC is like playing Russian Roulette with the government’s future.

There wasn’t a vote in it.

But the same people who were forever convinced the last Liberal government was corrupt to its core (in generally unspecified or at least far-fetched ways) will have endless material to satisfy their prejudice.

Baillieu is of course much like the smug puritanical pain John Cain than the rollicking, can-do fixer Jeff Kennett. But he is just one man in a big government.

And he can’t control them all.

He certainly won’t be able to completely control the gathering swarm of waspy lobbyists and spivs descending on the new government.

And he won’t be able to change the inevitable information flow coming from a whole bureaucracy that is institutionally biased against a conservative government, even one headed by someone called “Red Ted”.

Baillieu would have been well within his rights to ensure a lengthy period of study to come up with the right kind of ICAC for Victoria and implement it no earlier than Year Three of his administration in time for his re-election.

His decision not to delay it  so will cost the rich man – and a random number of his colleagues – plenty. He has sown the seeds of his political destruction and he hasn’t even been sworn in yet.

Former Health Minister and Labor Lefty Daniel Andrews – if he becomes Labor leader – will have much to think about this Christmas and while most people think he has a very big job ahead of him the truth is Ted Baillieu has just handed him a very big gift.



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40 responses to “SOWING SEEDS: Baillieu confirms Independent Commission Against Commission by mid-2011

  1. Anonymous

    Will Teds ICAC be looking into Peter Stephenson?

  2. Anonymous

    Will Teds ICAC be looking into the shameful reign of Peter St–hen-son at Dar-bin clowncil?

  3. Brimbank Party hack

    Well,I can see that you think that Brimbank was all Roses.It was a whitewash all the way and the following Councillors had to pay the price for all those bad Apples before them.Even being a member of the Vic Branchstacking Party,it made my Day when that anti-working class and under the carpet sweeping covernment got kicked out.Shame,that useless member for richmond did not fall on his sword.It is time that the Members and the Unions retake the ALP and sweep the rubish out the door and kick out the Branchstackers

  4. Madam Lash

    Perhaps the ICAC could investigate the awarding of contracts for asset sales under the Kennett Government for starters…lol

  5. Is this just another bloody Star Chamber?

  6. Kangaroo Court

    So, its no citizens rights?

    No right to remain silent?

    No right to confront your accuser in open court?

    No right to the presumption of innocence?

    No right to court review?

    No right to a lawyer? Or if you do you do then you’ll have to shell out tens of thousands of your hard earned to the pockets of a rich silk.

    Sounds very much like the show trials of the Cold War.

    Chairman Stalin would be pleased.

  7. Come in Spinner

    The Lucky Libs are far too busy pissing on all the new ALP political graves to notice piffle like the comments on this site.

    Premier Gumby (Ooops, sorry, Brumby) has already exited stage right. He is, unfortunately, protected by indemnities even when wholesale malfeasance became the norm. Perhaps Big Ted has the balls for a full inquiry!

  8. Hayseed state

    There is already a wide definition of corruption under whistle blower legislation . Very little real abuse of taxpayers funds are found due to the wall of silence between pollies and the private sector.

    An icac type body will also fail in this regard – that will leave it with little to do except political smear. The Alp will be the main target. Madden can expect to be singled out.
    Far from hurting ballieu this body should help the libs drive the final nail in state labor – expect this smear campaign to be used in eltham and other eastern seats to destroy state labors reputation.

    Labor would have been spared alot of pain if madden had not been re-elected.

  9. Sowing seeds of victory

    Like Cain before him ballieu simply needs one developer to be given amnesty and then fess up. But with such a small margin would building execs risk giving evidence?
    Bensons for instance are unlikely to deliver their pet sl, nuw and sda backed mps on a plate if their is a risk of labor being returned at state level.
    a factional break down shows that group is too powerful with 44 state mps.
    australand and sticklands may prove more fertile ground.
    At best these developers may give up labour and independent councillors
    in growth corridors. These lackeys of mps are the only ones likely to be given up. This will still give ballieu a ring of brimbanks. Wyndham, Hume, whittlesea, Geelong and Casey are all places where developer generosity runs deep. However ballieu will king hit labor if he can link councillor puppets back to their masters. And by exposing Casey councillors he can show he is not just targetting labor.

  10. Protecting libs

    An icac with a ten year time frame could protect kennett era wrong doing from scrutiny. Ted’s great adventure would then only be at risk from the feeding frenzy of current liberal mates.

  11. Lame duck labor

    Madden is an albatross around labor’s collective neck.
    Labor will be in the dock for the next four years.
    This will be painful to watch as labor is fried in the parliament, in the media and in the ICAC star chamber. A world of pain is coming.

  12. Regional slush funds

    Ballieu’s ICAC could also help federal libs. If it looked into links in the state and federally funded regional kitchen it may be able to cut off labor from private sector donors .
    ballieu can use his crime commission to create a climate of fear where donors avoid labor.

  13. Grim Reaper

    Baillieu should rethink his intention to fast track his proposed ICAC. Hypothetically, if one of his MPs were dragged through an ICAC investigation and forced to resign it would trigger a by-election. He should be mindful that the coalition is only one by-election loss away from a hung parliament. A hung parliament would likely result in an early general election with an uncertain outcome that may come back to haunt him.

  14. Corruption will be found, go retrospective for at least 3 years.

    This is a great move, it must be retrospective enough to take in Brimbank, Port Phillip White Witch, and particular focus to planning call in’s.

    The Brimbank inquiry stopped short of the looking at the State Parliamentarians, and it must be re opened and be inclusive of these players too.

  15. Nothing on Labor since the 17th of November?

    Come on Vexnews, there must be some bloodletting going on in the Labor party and there is nothing reported since the 17th of November. This really shows your allegiances. Get real; let us know what is going on behind the closed doors in Victoria Labor. Surely Andrews, Hulls and the lost one are slugging it out for power?

    Perhaps the Age might be interested in the obvious bias?

    [VEXNEWS: There’s not been a lot just yet, just a lot of mayors of Hiroshima. Andrews will be Leader, as has been published, he’s from the Left. He is the only one interested. Hulls will be Deputy, from the Labor Unity faction. He had to be persuaded to take on the position but it looks like he will. Some speculation about whether Tim Holding will be Shadow Treasurer or whether he wants time-out. He’d certainly be good. There’s not too much blood-letting at all yet, which I agree is strange. General view was that Labor Unity’s Luke Donnellan would become Deputy Leader if Hulls didn’t want it and that while others like the SDA’s James Merlino and the Left’s Jacinta Allan might have wanted to be Deputy, neither were advancing that view aggressively and accepted that Labor Unity would probably put forward a candidate. The comrades all seem too exhausted and sad to fight each other with any venom. There is an eerie calm and hence not worth a story yet. As always, we will be first with the worst but we’ll leave the boring bits that you can read in the papers to the papers. Please don’t take that as encouragement to buy The Age. They should be – and will be – starved to death. Not sure it’s accessible behind their paywall, but Andrew Crook of Nameless did quite account of events but as we say it’s all a bit dull. When they liven up, we’ll be chasing the Ambulances as ever…]

  16. Steve

    I agree,it should be retrospective at least 7 years.
    A full investigation of Darebin council should be launched. Why did Mayor Stephenson leave rate payers broke?

  17. Sotherby's loinfruit

    I wish Big Ted would sow my seeds

  18. SAFS 48K?????

    deen mile must be shiiting himself

  19. Wendys Back Door Bangup Shop

    Perhaps they could investigate where the Greens stash their cash- ill give you a clue!

  20. Wendy

    “Perhaps they could investigate where the Greens stash their cash- ill give you a clue!” wrote this semi literate buffoon. Why will “ill” give me a clue? Are you unwell? Does your brain hurt from the big words?

    I will give you a suggestion. Go to school. Go directly to school, do not pass Go. Oh that’s right, Big Ted is against school BER programs. In that case, go directly to welfare.

  21. I hope it looks into all the dodgy deals between the Labour government and developers. The Windsor Hotel and Caulfield race course being some of the big stinkers that need investigating.

  22. Disillusioned

    Will it look into Ted’s previous conduct re selling schools and PANCH?

  23. andy bult

    At least we can now have all public servants and Politicians investigated. There will be a few local Goct Cr’s.looking over their shoulders not to mention some very prominent ALP politicians.Cant wait

  24. Anon

    Disillusioned – they may look at Teds conduct with PANCH -NOT- but they have to look at the conduct of Stephenson and others –

  25. Wendy's pet cat Chairman Meow


  26. Dare rubbish bin

    Former Dare-bin Mayor Mr Peter S. must be investigated



    Peter S was low on the tree.
    Only did what he was told…maybe ate the free lunches?
    Why not look higher to the puppet’s masters.. all the SDA backed scum across the state… public servants also enjoyed the developer’s feast…check for tattslotto winners perhaps?

  28. brumby's raw deal

    The Brumby end of the GSD global stability deal now looks like a suicide pact.

    The failure of alp head office to do anything like real campaigning in many marginals reflects the desire of some to take the pension and run.

    In some ways it was like watching a Pakistani cricket team on tour – the incentive to lose was just to great for many.

    Labor would have lost in 2014 anyway so we could argue that the sloppiness of Reece and Kostas and the lack of hunger from many candidates only cost us four years in government.

    But what if it is 8 or 12 years in the wilderness?

  29. Boofa Leigh

    Gee I hope they don’t do check’s on me and my Labor mates in the local councils. It has been hard enough keeping the covers on doing business wih ‘the bruvers’ in the the ALP without this bretahing down my neck….

  30. John

    He should have a chat to Nick Greiner.

  31. Anonymous

    Who’s going to be first to be in the star chamber?

    Craig Langdon?
    Hakki Suleyman?
    Nazi El Asmar?
    Nick Reece?

    The possibilities are indeed endless.

  32. ordinary woman

    The ICAC will be a media focus and therefore reduce the need to deliver on election promises. Yawn Yawn There has massive waste etc etc etc, Now we can’t do what we said we would. blah blah blah blah

  33. Giuseppe De Simone

    A proper anti-corruption commission is long overdue. However, it must protect the civil liberties of those under investigation and provide both direct and derivative immunity to anyone forced to testify. While the pursuit of corruption is important, the protection of civil liberties and human rights is more important. I do not wish to live in a police state and I do not wish to face the prospect of the tax-payer funding the defence of senior bureaucrats while they are given leave with pay. While serious wrong doing needs to be punished, one option would be a disciplinary hearing for less serious cases.

  34. Fatinga

    I don’t like the sound of ths ICAC, it might cause a real blast in my new Outhouse.

  35. How can this unappealing, incompetent woman seriously think she is the best person for the job?

    Nobody even voted for her. She was just an appointment by Nick Campbell (the Johnson & Johnson bloke), so we all know who is pulling her strings.

  36. Sotherby

    an ICAC needs to investigate how Wendy was created and which lab was responsible.

  37. Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    People have no rights knocking the Kennett government none what so ever what have the Liberals ever done to harm anyone anyway.

  38. Anon

    Sotherby, Wendy was created in the Stephenson lab. Why are people so unkind to that man – what has he done wrong – oops right – what is association with PANCH, please tell and why do all the councillors hate him so much. Poor man, leave him alone

  39. Brimbank Party hack

    I believe that Coskas has a good show of bring his claim of branchstacking up first.

  40. Fontana's ghost

    Another facing ICAC probe is the former bottleshop owner banned for having a liquor licence for ten years and twice mayor of Dare bin. Very scared is that one.

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