Wednesday, 30 April 2014
There hasn't been an incorruptible administration or government in New South Wales since the First Fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour.....
And here is more proof of that:
By Wendy Bacon
….Much has been said in recent days about the achievements of Neville Wran, NSW Premier from 1976 until 1986, who died last weekend. Much of the praise is deserved.
His government did pass anti-discrimination laws, environmental legislation and other progressive reforms. But there has also been some nonsense written, including ALP leader Bill Shorten’s statement that Wran was a man of the "utmost integrity".
From reading the obituaries, you would have no idea what it was like to be in Sydney at the time. Wran presided over a state in which hundreds of prisoners paid their way out of prison. The police force was routinely corrupt and included detectives who killed people. Court cases were fixed, key judicial figures mixed with organised crime, and corruption in the property, racing and gambling industries was rife and backed by heavies.
At best, Wran resisted reform in these areas. At times, he actively conspired to cover it up. By the time he retired in 1986, his government had an appalling reputation for corruption in the administration of justice, which is why Liberal leader Nick Greiner was in the position to win victory in 1988 on an anti-corruption platform, including the establishment of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Wran’s own worst moment was undoubtedly in 1983, when the Street Royal Commission was set up after the ABC Four Corners report, The Big League. The story told how NSW Rugby League's President, Kevin Humphreys, had misappropriated funds from the Balmain Leagues Club and was charged by police.
It alleged that NSW's Chief Stipendiary Magistrate, Murray Farquhar, had intervened to have those charges dismissed and had told another magistrate that he was acting at the request of Wran. Wran refused to be interviewed by Four Corners and after legal advice and the approval of the ABC Board, it went to air.
The report created a political storm. Eleven days later a Royal Commission was set up and Wran stepped aside as Premier. Laurence Street, who was then the Chief Justice, found that Farquar had intervened — but not at the request of Wran, who denied he had been involved.
Farquar was later sentenced to four years imprisonment. But the Street Royal Commission did not really lay the matters to rest, as Wran himself knew. Evan Whitton, who was awarded Journalist of the Year in 1983 for for his "courage and innovation" in reporting of the Commission, regarded the terms of reference to be very narrow. The approach was "technical" rather than one of following up relevant questions as they arose. Whitton’s sketches and a diary of the commission that were published in the Sydney Morning Herald highlighted many of these flaws.
An underlying issue was the relationship between Farquar and organised crime figure George Freeman. This relationship had been revealed by The National Times in 1977. Instead of properly investigating these allegations, Wran, against the advice of others, supported extending Farquar’s appointment until 1979….
Read the rest of the article at New Matilda, 24 April 2014.