Topic: election nsw 2007
Ex NSW Minister Carl Scully has finally followed through with his political suicide pact with his boss Premier Iemma agreed months ago:
It's been a calmly choreographed final departure for Scully today down the worn track of previous Carr ministers who left a stench of incompetence and worse before Iemma took over. Scully understood the political gravity months back when he quickly offered his resignation from the front bench after multiple lies to Parliament were revealed.
The flushing out of Carl late last week in the press quizzing a political revival may well have come from crafty Iemma himself who needs a clean break from the Carr team to have a decent election show against the contender Peter Debnam, Opposition Leader but really ‘the PM Howard man’.
This clean slate imperative became even more compelling when the Howard federal team announced on the weekend their strong intention to support Debnam with ‘Here comes the cavalry’ metaphors in the Fairfax SunHerald via veteran journo Alex Mitchell. (Is he the only heavy weight there over summer?):
Mitchell also ran this story:
As one wag commented, said to be an ALP source, ‘public office has finished with Carl more than the other way round’ despite face saving ‘future plans in the private sector’. Bracket Scully therefore with unelectable Carr, Knowles, Refshauge in the year long ALP spring clean. It just took longer with Scully.
Stand in Jennifer Byrne on 702 radio canvassed the real reasons for the demise in the "Party Liners" segment with ex ALP federal minister Gary Punch and diplomatic ex Coalition (Nationals) state minister Wendy Machin. (The two in typical duopoly franchise style are on some chummy board together also.)
Byrne asked this great impromptu question about Carl “Was he honest?”. Amazing how three words can pack such a punch. The 'old hack' journo ex Australian 60 Minutes, wifey of Denton and kid(s) has still got it.
This parried Gary Punch’s extraordinary soliloquy for Scully who just ‘wanted to get things done’ (ironically Punch having the record of honourable resignation in protest over the mad 3rd runway infrastructure decision causing massive noise pollution, and vandalism of Botany Bay).
So was Scully honest? It would be defamatory for this writer to answer directly. So I will give an anecdote to answer indirectly.
The editor of SAM met Carl Scully in person with a delegation of senior environment group reps in about 1997 or 8 in the politician’s government offices. It was about the planned Eastern Distributor tollway from memory carving into the public parkland. Scully was most concerned about the usually ALP friendly Jeff Angel of TEC calling the good people at the RTA road dept “corrupt” in a press release. In words to the effect of "That’s not fair Jeff" Carl loudly complained "These are decent family men and women in the public service".
Now this writer and Jeff Angel don’t agree on many things not least his close and comfortable (including financial) dealings with the Carr government, so Scully must have been worried that even Angel was using such harsh language publicly. Neurotic even.
(As for Angel if he wasn't effectively 'duchessed' by the ALP then he has been most of the last 6 years like Peter Garrett today.)
But why would Angel or we generally think the RTA under Scully was “corrupt” and why would Scully be worried it had political resonance? Anything to do with revolving doors between Australian parliament(s) and Macquarie Bank? Or revolving doors between the NSW Labor Council and road construction companies? Anything to do with big donations of the building (labour and corporate) sector to the ALP?
The truth is people in civil society were noticing transport planning outsourced to private vested interests since the M2 in 1994, M4, M5, M5 East, then ED. The public interest as well as air quality and public transport patronage was going south at a fast rate of knots on Scully’s watch and his successors.
So dear reader ask yourself: Was Scully honest? Was anyone in the ALP honest? If he was so good and/or honest why is Premier Iemma so glad to be rid of him? It’s not in this writer’s view for the reason Gary Punch tried to advance on radio this morning, that ‘the RTA was a bureaucracy not up to their job’. Au contraire, the RTA delivered to the ALP and vested interests every time this last 10 years under Carr and Scully when it came to tollway construction and fat fingers in pies.
This writer is fond of recalling an ABC Quentin Dempster Stateline tv show years back where an employee dispute hearing at the Industrial Relations Commission was reported. Viewers enjoyed scurrillous evidence by the staffer to then ALP Minister Gabrielle Harrison claiming junior Gabrielle said to her "this ALP government is the most corrupt in the history of NSW". The evidence was presented by south coast unionist turned legal advocate Paul Matters for the erstwhile staffer.
An embarrassing quote to be sure, possibly not helpful to resolution of the IRC case itself, and indeed only hearsay by the aggrieved staffer attributing the quote to her ex ministerial 'employer' (technically the Parliament is employer, but only on advice of the MP). Harrison later denied the quote outside the court, that is not on oath if memory serves. But then she would have to for a quiet life post politics in this ALP town, as a widow, with a young son to raise.
Personally I tend to think still youthful Harrison did say it, she did mean it, the staffer used the truth of the quote to hurt her Minister's career as revenge for the staffer ending up at the IRC, as well as Matters with his own history, and this was in truth the ALP in government in NSW then and today. That indeed is why reputable Dempster reported it as probitive of something. If Harrison did say it she was talking about Carl Scully.
The staffer lost her IRC unfair dismissal case. Minister Harrison soon quit both cabinet and politics. That might be a new story entitled "Was Gabrielle Harrison too honest?"