Monday, March 25, 2013

Baillieu shafted by nutters

Vanguard April 2013 p. 5
Bill F.

We all knew that the Victorian Liberal Premier, ‘do nothing’ Ted Baillieu, was in his political death throes, but were the fatal wounds from falling on his sword or from knives in his back?

Baillieu’s sudden resignation took place against a backdrop of murky events and disclosures.

There was the revelation of secretly recorded conversations between the state Liberal Party Director Damien Mantach, Premier Baillieu’s Chief of Staff Tony Nutt and disgraced former staffer Tristan Weston. Weston had been sacked after his role in the conspiracy to destabilise the former Labor-appointed Police Commissioner, Simon Overland, had been exposed.

Mantach and Nutt promised to look after Weston, offering him money, accommodation and help finding another job. Maybe they had good reason to keep him ‘gruntled’? Other sacked workers never get treated this way, and many don’t even get their legal entitlements.

When all this hit the fan, Baillieu flicked it to the newly formed Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). Meanwhile Nutt had reassured Weston, an ex-cop, that the IBAC investigators would not include people from the old Office of Police Integrity who may have had prior dealings with him.

The other character, Damien Mantach, is still hanging on with vocal support from Tony Abbott. “I know Damien Mantach well. He is a person of integrity. So let’s see where this investigation goes. He has my confidence.”

Finally, the erratic right-wing backbencher Geoff Shaw, himself already under investigation for alleged rorts, resigned from the Liberal Party with stage-managed drama, triggering another crisis.

With all this going on, Baillieu, whether pushed or he jumped, was sidelined, and the ‘safe’ seat-warmer Denis Napthine was resurrected to become Premier. That is, at least until the federal election makes Tony Abbott the next Prime Minister.

What a stew! Who made the secret recordings? Who spilt the beans? Who benefitted?

This rubbish is ‘business as usual’ in Australian parliamentary politics. No wonder people are cynical – they are kept in the dark like mushrooms, disempowered by ‘fat cats’ who can pay $10,000 to have private dinners with government ministers, and manipulated by media moguls singing the hymns of ‘free trade’, foreign investment, and the need to cut wages and conditions to compete in the globalised market!

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