The decision by the West Australian Supreme Court to quash false convictions achieved by the infamous Western Australian Corruption & Crime Commission against former state Minister Norm Marlborough is an incredible repudiation of the activities of that vile organisation, WA political insiders told VEXNEWS today.
â€œThere is a pattern with the CCC â€“ and similar corrupt bodies in other states â€“ that when their allegations are tested, they fall apart. Sometimes they are able to con juries but often on appeal independent judges who apply old fashioned notions like wanting proof of wrongdoing, the presumption of innocence and so on throw them out,” one angry political operative explained.
COMING SOON TO VICTORIA
The WA CCC is modelled on similar agencies in New South Wales and in turn will be replicated by the Baillieu government in Victoria who many think will be inevitably hoist by their own petard.
The Supreme Court unanimously threw out the CCCâ€™s case against Marlborough.
Central to the argument was whether the CCC had deliberately asked vague or deceitfully tricky questions in order to trip up Marlborough and lead him to inadvertently answer incorrectly, despite attempting to co-operate fully with the notorious agency that was notionally established to combat corruption, yet itself, as now, is seen to act quite corruptly itself.
BLOOD ON ITS HANDS
So traumatic was the vicious nature of the CCCâ€™s targeting of Marlborough that the troubled bloke contemplated suicide. At least one of the CCC’s victims has killed himself in a scandal that has led many in Perth to question the integrity and decency of the agency and its staff.
Targets of the Victorian Ombudsman â€“ equipped with similar powers to the Corrupt Commission – have told VEXNEWS that they too suffered extreme psychological distress as a result of the way their goons (like Lachlan McCulloch) acted.
YOU ARE DEEMED GUILTY REGARDLESS OF FACTS
We thought these remarks especially telling, chillingly reminiscent as they are of totalitarian police states so horrifying described by Orwell:
Mr Marlborough said outside court today that the CCC created an atmosphere that made those being questioned feel guilty.
“The process had made me feel very guilty… I didn’t think I had done anything wrong,” Mr Marlborough said.
Outside the court, this proud bloke cried tears of joy. He told a bunch of strangers in the form of local journos who gathered roundÂ that he wouldnâ€™t have survived without his loving wife. He said he contemplated suicide. He said heâ€™d never be the same again. He said his once close friendship with frequent CCC victim Brian Burke was strained.
If youâ€™re not angry about this good man who dedicated his life to public service being treated this way then you probably shouldnâ€™t be reading VEXNEWS. P*ss off, we donâ€™t want you.
If you are worried, if you are as deeply perturbed about the attack on public life and democracy itself that these nefarious agencies represent, then I ask you what I occasionally ask myself:
What have you done lately to alert people to the dangers of these perpetually over-reaching, human-rights abusing corruption bodies?
GOVERNMENT BY, FOR AND OF THE CAFAGNA
If youâ€™re in Victoria and in conservative politics, as many of our readers are, what are you are doing about the fact that your government, that you worked hard to elect, headed by people like Ted Baillieu and Josephine Cafagna are about to unleash ravenous jackals on the body politic?
Probably nothing, youâ€™re still waiting to find out that youâ€™ve been vetoed by the Premierâ€™s â€œStar Chamberâ€ (itself surely likely to be subject to ICAC investigation).
Some Liberals tell us somehow Baillieu will ensure his version of ICAC will focus on Labor councils and the past government.
No-one has explained how that pipe-dream could possibly be implemented. The Commission about Labor Corruption seems a little too good to be true, from a Liberal point of view.
Because it cannot and will not be.
UNLEASH THE JACKAL AND IT WILL BITE
If you set up these bodies, they go hunting whichever target they think will get the most headlines, rarely is it a partisan issue, itâ€™s almost always a self-justification issue. These expensive agencies need to be seen to get results so they shoot for targets they know the media will love. And in Victoria, that will mean incumbents, the high-ranking the better.
This is an issue that goes way beyond partisan politics.
Itâ€™s about whether you value public life at all and whether those who bravely â€“ in any event â€“ put their hand up for public office should have any rights at all or than the right to be randomly killed off by vicious, petty, otherwise unemployable B-graders who invariably emerge as the staff of these foul organisations.
Long ago, we decided not to chance our arm. We donâ€™t mind the cheap seats, the winds can be chilly but the view always spectacular.
But we start with an absolute admiration for those willing to put their hand up for the noblest profession: in politics. Even the Greens, we sheepishly admit.
AUSTRALIA IS ESSENTIALLY CORRUPTION-FREE
As we have argued many times before, with reference to extensive studies by the most-respected NGOs, Australia has practically no public sector corruption. Certainly nothing on a scale that could ever warrant the establishment of bodies like ICACs that are better suited to fighting terror or organised crime gangs.
Politicians who create these bodies deserve all they get. Nick Greiner paid the supreme price for creating an ICAC. It falsely â€“ outrageously â€“ judged him guilty of corruption. He had to resign. And even though the courts cleared him, the stain remained.
The way the money is flying around Perth, with lobbyists and wealthy spiv miners and land boomers, it will be a miracle if their government survives unscathed, even though it is widely seen as a decent, honest government.
In NSW, the sheer randomness of those slayed on ICACâ€™s altar, on just how few of its victims are ever actually successfully prosecuted of anything, tells us just how brutish and foul these agencies can be.
They resist every kind of check and balance and accountability and oversight.
They will never accept the standards of propriety they insist on for others. The Victorian Ombudsman is a classic example of this, he has presided over a dishonest, thuggish and extra-legal structure there that if he found it in any other agency he would almost certainly be recommending multiple prosecutions.
As we write, we know it will get worse before it gets better.
WHO WILL BE FIRST TO FALL?
We think of the best and brightest, really promising chaps in the new Victorian government, Ryan Smith, Matthew Guy, Michael Oâ€™Brien and wonder which one of these able men will fall victim to Ted Baillieuâ€™s foul creation of ICAC.
Young men with families and bright futures. All could have done something else, made more money, had more time with the kids on weekends. Less pressure, less scrutiny.
But they chose public life. Like Norm Marlborough did. And we ought be very grateful they did so. Good people, doing their best to make a difference, make the world a little better for them being on it. We should seek their autographs not be smearing them in excrement.
That gratitude ought not be expressed in a so-called anti-corruption agency that itself will be corrupt to the core, like all its brother agencies in other states and like the Ombudsman it will probably replace.
Real safeguards, genuine accountability and oversight, means of redress other than incredibly expensive, personally-funded litigation by ICAC’s victims are just as essential as they are unlikely.