Thursday, February 21, 2008

Only Three More Years Until You Can Vote Them Out…

The growing scandal around the corruption allegations concerning Wollongong threatens to envelop the New South Wales Government. Currently the subject of hearings by I.C.A.C., the story that has emerged is a tale of far more twists and turns than a television crime drama. When the evidence given by former town planning officer Beth Morgan hit the headlines it was just the beginning of the unraveling of a web that now has embroiled a number of government ministers, including the Premier.

It has been revealed that Ms. Morgan was involved in romantic affairs with more than one developer, and received cash and gifts in return for development approvals. One of those developers, Glen Tabak, is connected to a company which is also a significant campaign funds donor to several Labor Party members.

Ms. Morgan was also involved in what is described as a long term relationship with another developer, Frank Vellar. They were allegedly approached by two other men, Ray Younan and Gerald Carroll, who are alleged to have impersonated I.C.A.C. officials and demanded bribes. It is alleged that $50 000 was paid and that Ms. Morgan had sex with Mr. Carroll as part of the deal. What she didn’t know is that Mr. Vellar already allegedly had a past association with Mr. Younan.

Another man alleged to have paid bribe money to the pair is Joe Scimone. Mr. Scimone has been a Labor Party branch president, a pre-selection candidate, a campaign manager for the now police minister David Campbell, and a long time friend of Joe Tripodi, as well as a Wollongong City Councilor until last year. Last month he was given a job with N.S.W. Maritime commanding the impressive salary of $200 000. His friendships and associations extend all the way to include the Premier. There are also extensive and unsavoury sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Scimone.

Of course, even if any of these allegations are proven against Mr. Scimone, it would be wrong to consider the premier and senior ministers guilty by association. But it simply isn’t reasonable to accept that nobody knew anything about this can of worms before it hit the headlines this week.

As if the crises in Health and Community Services weren’t already enough, this fiasco has completely shredded what remained of the N.S.W. government’s credibility.

And we’re stuck with them for another three years.

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