The New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, resigned from his position this week as it was proven that he lied to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). It was revealed that he had in fact accepted a $3000 bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange wine as a gift despite going on record saying otherwise.
By Socialist Party reporters
The gift from the former Australian Water Holdings chief executive Nick Di Girolamo was delivered to the Premier during negotiations over a $1 billion government contract. A thank-you note signed by O’Farrell was tabled at the Commission after he had denied receiving the wine.
ICAC has been investigating Australian Water Holdings over its lobbying of the NSW government for a public-private partnership that would deliver water and sewerage infrastructure to the state.
Nick Di Girolamo is a businessman, lawyer and Liberal Party fundraiser connected to the disgraced former NSW Labor figure Eddie Obeid. Australian Water Holdings was part owned by Obeid with the company having links to the Liberal Party via Di Girolamo and the federal Liberal Party Senator Arthur Sinodinos.
Sinodinos himself has been forced to stand aside as Assistant Treasurer after the ridiculous claim that he was unaware of $74,000 in donations from Australian Water Holdings to the Liberal Party when he was both a director of the company and the treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party.
Sinodinos was paid $200,000 a year plus bonuses by Australian Water Holdings for a mere 100 hours of work. ICAC has also heard evidence that two other NSW Liberal figures, Michael Photios and Paul Nicolaou, were paid large retainers by Australian Water Holdings.
ICAC was originally set up by the Liberals and was supposed to uncover corruption from Labor’s years in office. The problem for the Liberals is that corrupt links with big business exists between both of the major capitalist parties. MPs, staffers, party officials and lobbyists alike are all involved as profiteers tussle for lucrative government contracts.
The shift away from public ownership and investment and towards privatisation and public-private partnerships has laid the basis for this sort of corruption to flourish. Corruption is in fact the lubricant of the profit driven system. Recent developments in NSW have merely lifted the lid on the rotten alliances that exist between the major capitalist parties and the big business elite.
ICAC is not in a position to solve any of these problems. A political solution is required. None of the capitalist parties can be relied upon and instead ordinary people need to start the process of building a political alternative to the two-party duopoly.
We need a new workers party that refuses to take any money from big business. A party that unashamedly represents ordinary people should be funded by workers and their organisations. All party officials and MPs should only accept the wage of a skilled worker with no bonuses and they should be subject to immediate recall.
At the same time we need to put an end to the rule of private profit in the economy. Removing the profit motive would remove the need for businesses to bribe politicians in the competition for public funds. Instead on the basis of a publicly owned and democratically controlled economy we could plan to build and produce things based on people’s needs.
Building an organisation that fights for this political alternative to capitalist corruption is the task at hand. Otherwise a thin layer of politicians and profiteers will continue to benefit from corruption at the expense of the rest of us.