Saturday, March 10, 2007

Exit a foolish shadow attorney general

Only a fool gives overwhelmingly glowing references to someone they don’t know. The fool who gave such a reference to the notorious gangster Tony Mokbel, MP Kelvin Thomson, was until yesterday, the shadow Attorney General. If the existence of this reference had not been uncovered, Thomson would have been Attorney General in a Rudd Labor Government and the most important legal figure in the country.

Mokbel is a fugitive charged with murder and cocaine smuggling. He already had 19 convictions for serious convictions when Thomson gave him the reference in support of his application for a liquor license - he urged the Liquor Licensing Commission to take into account Mokbel's ‘commitment to family and his successful establishment as a local businessman’ when it considered his application..

The Labor Party in Australia lacks judgment as the Rudd-Burke-Thomson-Mokbel events make clear. Moreover, as the stench from the sleaze in the State branches makes clear, also lacks integrity as articulated here, here, here and, from John Quiggin, here.

I searched a dozen leftwing blogs at 2-30 pm today. Not one had made a comment on these events. On the right a few did. Tim Blair suggests that this articulate young Melbourne idealist might be Thomson’s perfect replacement. Go for him Kev.


chrisl said...

The idea that Kelvin Thompson or a staff member did not know who Mokbel was is just not credible.
The story at the local primary school was that each time he went to prison ,his wife would tell their kids that he had gone back to lebanon.

chrisl said...

The rise and rise (to his level of incompetance) of Kelvin Thompson, is a reflection of our political system. With relatively few members of the parties,not many votes are needed to gain preselection. The trick is to get those numbers.The people of Wills would vote Labor no matter how stupid the candidate.

hc said...

chrisl, I doubt he knew Mokbel. My guess is the nitwit would write references for just about anyone recommended to him by a local party member.

It is this carelessness that I find appalling. I am requested to write references every day or so for students and colleagues. I take the issue seriously as it can determine people's futures and when people are getting started they need some support.

If I don't know the requester at all personally I decline (suggesting that they contact someone who knows them better) or only write in the reference things that are clear to me from transcripts or evidence. Sometimes I will say to the person in this situation that that is all I can do - giving them the option to get someone else.

If I don't want to write a reference I say so. It can be painful but its only happened to me a handful of times.

It is wrong to write a glowing reference of approval for someone you don't know.

Fred Argy said...

Harry, you keep banging on about corruption in the ALP, your latest being that "The Labor Party ----lacks integrity".

You never define 'corruption' or "integrity" in the political context. If you mean using one's position to line one's pockets, there are really very few instances of this kind at the State level (Labor or Coalition). If you mean using the power of incumbency to win political favours, then one can certainly find quite a few suspicious events which suggest that SOME ALP politicians are morally guilty. The ALP has dominated State politics for a long time so one is bound to find more transgressors at the State level in recent times (although I am old enough to remember the old Askin regime in NSW and you know about them don’t you?).

More importantly, I was taught early in life that it is illogical to generalise from the particular to the general (in this case labeling a whole political party corrupt or lacking integrity because of a few offenders).

You should also note that the Coalition has been in power for over ten years at the federal level. As Brian Toohey notes in today's CT, there is no independent commission to cast a beady eye over the conduct of politicians and public servants" at the federal level o match the Corruption Commissions at the state level (the ACC “is not really up to perform this role”).

Toohey also notes that Rudd has promised that he intends to clean up the 'lobbying' industry's relations with politicians but Howard "plans to make no changes in this area".

Finally you must be aware of the current police investigation of sections of the Liiberal Party regarding printing abuses. The AFP may decide that there is no case to answer but, in your discussions of 'corruption' and the Queensland Commission may also clear them but why is it completely ignored by you?

I read your blog for its perceptive views on economic and environmental issue but I am forced to read all this political stuff which is really far from fair and balanced. Pity.

Fred Argy said...

Sorry my before-last paragraph got garbled. The last sentence of that paragraph should have read:

The AFP may decide there is no cae to answer and the Queensland Commission may also clear them, but in your discussions of possible 'corruption' why is this completely ignored?

hc said...

Fred, I add a line in para 3 where I set out three previous posts on the topic of State Government sleaze in the ALP which provides detailed information. I include, as well, as a strong post on the same topic by John Quiggin. JQ adapts the same explanation for the sleaze I do - it's due to the ALP factional system.

The problems arise in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and WA. I reject your claim that I have inappropriately generalised.

I expressly raised the issue of corruption in the Liberal Party in connection with the printing issue here. I have also several times raised the issue of corruption in the Askin Government of NSW - of course I remember it. I have no time for this type of behavior on any side of politics.

Thus I reject your claim that my political preferences have led to partiality .

I agree with your comment that the dominance of Labor in state politics means it has more opportunities to get involved in dodgy things. I have made the same point myself.

Labor has a problem. It won't disappear with attacks on the bias motives of people commenting on these problems.

The suggestion by Rudd that he will monitor Labor MPs in how they give out references - is not a sign of strength - it suggests a ludicrous stupidity and lack of mutual respect within Labor.

By the way I was a member of the ALP during my student days and was active on the left of the party. Nothing that I see in the State Labor Governments these days surprises me.

Anonymous said...

Harry, this kind of gotcha is silly. I last posted two sentences on this stuff a few days ago, with a couple of sentences on Ian Campbell's (unjustified) forced resignation. Since then, we've had his replacement found to have share dealings related to Burke, three Liberal MPs raided by the police, and now this business with Thomson. Unless you want to go fulltime on this stuff, none of these were, in my view, worthy of note. You reached the same conclusion when the Liberal party was involved, and AFAIK, no-one on the left went in for any gotcha posts.


Anonymous said...

Apologies, Harry, I see you did mention the Liberal printing case. Still, as I say, most bloggers are not interested enough in petty corruption (or in Thomson's case, errors of judgement) to post every day on this topic, which is what would be needed at the moment.


hc said...

JQ, One way of dismissing this incident is to describe it as minor and my remarks as a 'gotcha post' (they weren't that, Thomspon had already been 'got').

But Kevin Rudd certainly didn't see things that way in relation to Thompson. Nor did the national press including the AFR. The issue was serious as were the various other State Government 'petty' corruptions.

Are the left blogs leaving these things alone not because they are trivial but because they upset the Rudd honeymoon and the impression that Labor is a plausible alternatiive government?

BTW, I have written that I saw no reason for Campbell to go. It was silly.

Fred Argy said...

Harry you misread completely one of my points. I did NOT say that Rudd's "decision to monitor references" was "a sign of strength" at all. In fact, I did not even mention the Thompson affair and references (I agree with most of your comments on that and so it appears does Rudd).

What I did put forward is two proposals.

First, that lobbying activities - a key source of corruption in WA - should be more tightly regulated (as two State Governments are planning to do and as many of our top lobbyists-consultants themselves believe is necessary). I applaud Rudd for promising to do this. But Howard has said it is unnecessary.

I also said in my comment that (in line with Toohey's suggestion) a strong Corruption Commission with similar powers to those in the States should be established at federal level I suspect there is much going on we don't know about and would know if someone was out there taping Ministers. I do not know what Rudd thinks about this idea - but Howard has said he does not agree with it. Do you disagree with it too?

I don't think the economic arguments against both proposals above are decisive where the intent is to improve political morality and the public interest.

hc said...

Fred I don't know if greater regulation of lobbyists is a good idea. As I posted last week (here the difficulties with lobbyists as much as anything seem to reflect incompetence in government. The lobbyists are meeting a market need. State Governments reform thyself!

I don't know about a Crime Commission. At one stage wasn't Brian Burke being suggested as a future possible PM? I don't know about a CC but could its insdependence from pollies be sustained? The thought of someone like Brian Burke being able to even influence taping of the views of political opponents frightens me.

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