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Wednesday, 19 May 2021 00:58

Zero Net Liberalism in New South Wales, Ten Years On

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The New South Wales Liberal-led Government recently turned ten.  Is there anything to celebrate in the Premier State?


Well might New South Wales be called “the premier state”.  At the beginning of the current Premier’s reign, we had had seven premiers in the previous twelve years.  Not many of any merit, and with very few of those popularly elected then surviving a full term in office.  Most were replaced, or left office, during the parliamentary terms, without popular consent.  We are, though, in no way the premier state in terms of the quality of governance, measured either by morals, leadership, principle or competence.  It is a matter of tweedledum and tweedledee.  Rum Corps politics all round.

Careful observers might have noted that the NSW Liberal-led Government recently turned ten.  For most, including for those who might have rejoiced without reserve back in March 2011 – at the end of the long, power-hungry, ultimately tainted, mostly Bob Carr-led Labor governance of the Premier State – the anniversary event passed without the least fanfare or celebration.  This is because there wasn’t, and isn’t, much cause for celebration either among the Liberal base or the right-of-centre, silent Australians.

The NSW Government now faces almost weekly scandals, often of a particularly seedy nature.  It is riven by mutually loathing, self-interested, deal-making factions.  It is held together by a governance model based on sleazy land deals with developers and the associated destruction of the State’s heritage  It is ruled by venal, back-of-house bovver boys.  It spends taxpayers’ money like a drunken sailor on unnecessary vanity projects.  It is now teetering on the verge of losing the parliamentary right to rule, and is led by one who in all likelihood lies under oath.  There is, then, on the face of it, little to be cheerful about among those who welcomed the Liberals back to government a decade ago.

Yet celebrate it, people in New South Wales (apparently, if the polls are to be believed) and in the Murdoch media (especially) still do.  As the Government this week faces a by-election in the Hunter Valley that could push it into minority status, the NSW Premier rides a wave of support that is, on its face, difficult to explain.  A recent (late 2020) poll had “Our Glad” in the sixty-per-cents in terms of approval of her performance, with a 58 to 19 per cent gap between her and the Opposition Leader (the scarcely visible, unheeded Jodi McKay).  One advantage the Premier has in the age of Covid is that she is surrounded by other state premiers who are, by turns, thugs, party hacks or Zero-Covid-nutters.  They all make her look good, liberal and moderate (in the sense of proportional) in her Covid regime.  Another advantage she and other incumbents is that Australians have become more concerned – if they were not already –about perceived safety than real freedom.  Those in office seen to be “protecting” us all do well with the punters.  A third advantage is that the Australian media and the various Oppositions are not doing their jobs.  The Covid State is a one-party state.

First, a little history on the arrival and the trajectory of the current NSW Government.

On 26 March 2011, the NSW Coalition did the impossible and actually won government, having languished in opposition since back in the twentieth century (1995 to be precise).  Its leaders, John Fahey, Peter Collins, Kerry Chikarovski, John Brogden and Peter Debnam, all bar Fahey utterly forgettable, had endured a succession of electoral defeats that amounted to political disasters, in the face of a then Labor Party that for sixteen long years managed to convince the voters of the State that it was itself fit to govern, indeed competent. 

Led for over a decade by Bob Carr, who exuded silky smoothness, and supported by the former leftie turned neo-liberal Treasurer Michael Egan, NSW Labor sought to emulate the political model first perfected in the 1980s by Neville Wran.  This was mainly about crushing the Liberal Opposition, and it was successful beyond hopes.  But the Government achieved little, especially in the essential task of a State government – to provide infrastructure for state development.  Then Bob Carr moved on, first, to an unelected stint as Foreign Minister under Rudd, then an ill-deserved academic sinecure and (surprise, surprise) associated Chinese relationship-building.  The ALP in government gradually fell apart, disabled by a cavalcade of second-tier leaders (Morris Iemma, Nathan Rees and Kristina Keneally) and corruption and sex scandals in which three ministers ended up in prison.

The NSW Liberals under former apparatchik Barry O’Farrell duly returned to government, with right-of-centre fanfare and hopes of conservative pushback of the kind that was expected, and delivered, when Howard came to office in 1996 in Canberra after a similar time in the desert of opposition.  To little joy, in the longer term.

The first Liberal Premier, Barry O’Farrell, soon departed after an alleged corrupt receipt of a bottle of wine.  His successor, Mike Baird, left the scene equally suddenly after a mixed record “to spend more time with his family”, which largely consisted forsaking them for a high powered, hugely remunerated stint at the NAB Bank.  His successor, Gladys Berejiklian, sadly, is still with us.

The NSW Coalition has delivered crony capitalism on a par with Bob Carr’s earlier crony unionism, with corruption aplenty, a revolving door of leaders, embedded factionalism, woke leftism, and ever-growing toll roads.  Because the NSW Government is given endless cover by the Murdoch press, its manifest failures and amoral behaviour have generally been given a pass.  And a narrative, a mythology, of success has developed.

Let’s look at the Liberals’ and Nationals’ embarrassing record of arrogance, incompetence, policy reversals and corruption in government.  In no particular order:

  • Three bungling premiers in ten years;
  • Small government?  40 ministers and parliamentary secretaries out of a caucus of 63 members, at the time of writing;
  • Massive overspends (like the nearly $600 million cost blowout for the City Light Rail project) and routine delays on infrastructure projects (like NorthConnex);
  • A monumental bungle on greyhound racing, initially banned following evidence of savage and systemic cruelty, then limply reinstated after regional and industry pressure and, no doubt, focus groups;
  • Ministers (like Don Harwin) sacked for misconduct then brought back within months following factional deals;
  • Infanticide-on-demand legislation not ever canvassed during the prior election campaign;
  • Businesses shafted or disrupted during infrastructure builds;
  • Vanity projects like the unwanted Sydney City light rail, the outcome of the Government’s unique blend of crony capitalism and leftist new urbanism;
  • City-centric rule and ignoring regional New South Wales, despite endless announcables and the drip-feed of press releases lauding the Government’s often electorally-driven spending on localities;
  • The destruction of Sydney’s beauty and heritage through appalling planning decisions and processes;
  • Politics led by unelected factional warlords;
  • Farcical backflips over the Powerhouse Museum relocation;
  • The Covid Ruby Princess disaster which should forever destroy the Government’s credibility on Covid;
  • The current Premier’s astonishing, and astonishingly arrogant, defence of pork-barrelling over the rorted $140 million grants program, 95 per cent of which went to Coalition electorates – “they all do it!”;
  • The outrageous cancellation on a whim of the 2021 Byron Bay BluesfFest as the result of one Covid case, costing the local economy tens of millions of dollars;
  • The Premier’s hidden relationship with a disgraced and possibly crooked MP;
  • Her probable lying under oath about it;
  • The endless coverups;
  • Breaches of the Ministerial Code of Conduct;
  • The panic-driven, disastrous lockout laws which helped to crush the night economy of Sydney for years, then were meekly abandoned after five years;
  • Ministerial sexual conduct unbecoming;
  • Ministerial lands deals unbecoming;
  • Selling off of the State’s core infrastructure, so as to then corruptly spend the proceeds on, among other things, “community grants” decided in the Premier’s own office, flouting government rules;
  • Illegally shredding the evidence of this;
  • Repeated lying to the people of New South Wales about the real (lack of) threat posed by Covid;
  • The destruction of the State’s coal-fired power capability and the subsidies of costly, ineffective renewable energy;
  • The appointment, then the humiliating shafting, within days, of Malcolm Turnbull from the Net-Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board, a leftist body created by the extremist greenie minister Matt Kean (see more on Kean below);
  • Rabid green leftism generally and largely unrewarded pandering to inner city elites;
  • Spiralling power prices with ideology-driven subsidies to renewables;
  • Giving merely an amber light to the pro-euthanasia Nationals who are gathering the numbers for end-of-life legislation;
  • No confidence motions in the Parliament;
  • NSW Treasury (of all places) advertising for diversity officers;
  • The unchecked march of political correctness through NSW institutions;
  • The Premier’s chillingly illiberal suggestion (in January 2020) in support of vaccine mandates;
  • The disastrous koala habitat legislation of 2020, described by Mark Latham as a “planning shambles” and which all but caused the Nationals to walk from the government;
  • The outrageous lack of proper fire management in NSW national parks, on the Liberals’ watch, that massively inflated the damage suffered from the bushfires of 2020;
  • The Premier bullying her own Deputy Premier, causing him to have to take mental health leave;
  • The hugely expensive and worthless amalgamations of local councils across the state;
  • The disaster that has been the amalgamation of Gosford and Wyong Councils, now half a billion dollars in debt.

This is a litany of disaster that matches the sheer awfulness of the last Liberal-National Government in the Premier State, that of the late John Fahey.  That Government’s sorry reputation – despite the undoubted merits of its leader – as one of Australia’s worst ever must now, surely, be under threat.

Let us take, for example, ministerial standards.  Just have a look at the now exiled MP John Sidoti, caught up in allegations over land deals.  As one journalist has pointed out:

“I’m not sure what I’ve signed, to be honest with you.” It was an extraordinary claim from Drummoyne MP John Sidoti, a veteran political operative who had a longstanding role as chairman of NSW Parliament’s powerful privileges and ethics committee.

Sidoti, who has risen through the ranks from mayor of Burwood to member for Drummoyne, parliamentary secretary and finally a minister in Gladys Berejiklian’s cabinet, told the corruption watchdog – under oath – that he does not read documents before signing them.

Former minister Gareth Ward similarly rose through the mediocre ranks to attain ministerial office.  Now he is the latest of the “under investigation” “former ministers”.  A Families Minister under investigation by the Sex Crimes Unit isn’t a good look for a government.  As the Daily Telegraph notes:

Senior ministers remain regretful and even baffled that Ms Berejiklian did not quietly shuffle Mr Ward out of his position when he was found naked and disoriented in Potts Points last year. It was an episode Mr Ward blamed on the after effects of a medical procedure.

The Telegraph wonders, not unreasonably:

How did Gareth Ward climb to the rank of Families Minister with a seat at Gladys Berejiklian’s cabinet table and become guardian of 17,000 of the most vulnerable kids?

Ward climbed the ranks simply through factional deals, the hallmark of the NSW Government.  In other words, a Photios boy.  What is a Photios boy?

I frequently describe the NSW Government as the Photios Industrial Complex.  Michael Photios is a former Liberal (very junior) Minister from the 1990s who has also been the long-term leader of the so-called “moderate” faction that runs the Liberal Party in New South Wales.  He parlayed his experience in the parliament with ruthless efficiency into a vertically integrated, money-making political control machine, the like of which Australia has not previously seen.  To describe him merely as a “lobbyist” is to commit a category error.  His model especially works when there is also a Liberal Government – if one can call it that – in Canberra.  He, and (increasingly) his lieutenants, control everything from who gets into parliament to who gets to talk to ministers.  As Graham Richardson once said, no one does anything politically important in the State except through Photios.  (Tony Abbott once tried unsuccessfully to rein in his influence by cleaning up lobbying rules).  Photios is a Turnbull man and Berejiklian man.  Arguably, he created them, certainly Ms Gladys.  The linked articles explain the business model of the NSW Liberal Party, and why I continue to use this phrase.

In a recent article on the Liberal Party, one of Gladys’s henchmen denied, disingenuously, that Mr Photios “… continues to pull the strings as a power-broker-turned-lobbyist.”

One way of assessing the standing and merits of a political leader is to examine his or her choice of advisers and ministers.  Which brings us to the same Matt Kean who denied the influence of Michael Photios.

Kean has been described variously as “the most dangerous politician in Australia” (David Flint), “the Liberal Party’s Kevin Rudd” (a Liberal Party member), “a disaster waiting to happen” (another member) and “he’s just not f…ing normal” (another member).  Kean has been reported as wanting to take the Liberal Party “even further to the left”, in order to remake the Liberal base in the image of the “broader population”.  Perhaps he means the broader population of Newtown and Taylor Square.  This is the same man who appointed Turnbull to the Zero Emissions whatsy, the man, indeed, who thought up the Zero Emissions whatsy.  Oh, and who is described by the Telegraph as Berejiklian’s key adviser, the “chief lieutenant and numbers man” of the “inner circle”, the factional heavyweight of the “praetorian guard”.  In James Bond/Spectre terms, then, Number Two.  The supposed Number Twos, the Nationals’ leader (Pork Barell-aro) and the Liberals’ Deputy Leader, the once promising but now largely unlamented Dominic Perrottet, from the Catholic Right, merely make up the numbers.  They are generally missing in action, especially when the chips are down.  The real power behind the throne lies elsewhere.

Here is Sean Burke, writing about Kean in August 2020:

ULTRA-Left NSW MP Matt Kean has suggested he is the future of the Liberal Party – and not conservatives such as Menzies, Howard or Abbott. 

In what could only be described as a self-congratulatory piece in Friday’s Australian Financial Review, the NSW minister spoke of his government-supplied Tesla, his Greens Party agenda as well as his disapproval of former PM Tony Abbott. He also provided a glimpse of his deep dislike for US President Donald Trump. 

The article even labelled a number of Party colleagues as people “who’ve never seen a lump of coal they didn’t like” – and delivered a special serve of vitriol to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

He is the same man, of course, who stated that the 2019-20 NSW bushfires were caused by global warming.  Sean Burke again:

One of Mr Kean’s proudest personal environmental contributions is his government provided Tesla T3 (RRP $88,000) which replaces his government supplied Toyota Kluger (RRP $41,000).

He is a climate nutter.

Some liberal.  If he is the future of the Liberal Party – and he might well be right – we may as well all shuffle off to One Nation and its many, small, right-of-centre party imitators.  Remember, this is the closest man to the woman who some commentators think should be “off to Canberra”. 

The alley-cat morality of allowing a single individual (Photios) to run a lobbying business with unparalleled access to ministers, where that same individual gets to select the premier (Berejiklian), select – or at least have a say in the selection of – a prime minister (Morrison), to control pre-selections of members and appointments of ministers with whom he later curries favour for cashed-up clients, bespeaks a system that is broken, embarrassingly so.  A system that has totally given up on virtue in government.  One for whom low information voters, even Liberal Party members, are no more than useful idiots.  I am reliably told that $25,000 will buy you two phone calls from this man.  The problem is that no one in the community really knows this story.  The screaming success of the business model is that no one knows about it.  Just like the devil in Baudelaire’s clever formulation.  Photios’s, like satan’s, greatest trick was to convince the world that he doesn’t exist.  Hence the sheer macro-corruption of this governance model involved goes unremarked.  The Murdoch media in particular simply lets it through to the ’keeper.  In the era of oppositionless government, this amounts to a one-party state, where cross bench independents, whatever their ideological hue, are simply bought off.  Including the Greens!  Where even careerist internal critics are bought off. 

Hence the continued image of the NSW Premier as one of the good guys.  One that has got the Covid response just right (notwithstanding the Ruby Princess disaster, lockdowns and mask mandates on a whim, constant shifting of the goalposts, shutting down whole regions over Christmas, ridiculous rules where there is no risk whatsoever to the healthy, bans on singing and dancing, endless press conferences about nothing, and the rest).  All this, peculiarly, strikes some observers as “gold standard”.  Perhaps they mean “gold plated”.

One of the very few journalists to see through the fog of misguided admiration for Our Glad is Yoni Bashan, who almost single-handedly has kept the people – or at least readers of The Australian – informed of the Premier’s sleaze and wrongdoings, in particular throughout the now almost forgotten Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings:

Right, so Gladys Berejiklian can thunder on about the misdeeds of Daryl Maguire, sack him from parliament, issue a statement brimming with anger that he “let down the people of NSW”, his constituents, the Liberal Party, bloody everyone … then carry on seeing him in secret for two years.

This, of course, continues a long tradition of reality distortion by the Premier in a political crisis.  Nothing is ever Berejiklian’s fault as long as she can play the victim. And, boy, this case is no exception.

A quick recap of the facts.  Not only did the Premier maintain a close personal relationship with a politician whose alleged corruption extended to the very tips of his hairline, she was also drawn into a universe of spurious land deals and shady characters hurtling within Maguire’s orbit, the Jimmys and Williams, the occasional nudge-nudge of coded language involving “big problems” and “little friends”.

This was all revealed in the excruciating vivisection of their phone calls and texts.

Bizarrely of all, perhaps, was the moment she told Maguire she “didn’t need to know that bit”, during yet another chat about his financial headless chickenry.  Was it because she knew he was up to no good?  Knew it could impugn her position?  Of course not.

“I have no direct recollection but I probably would have firstly not regarded it as interesting to me.  I always assumed, rightly or wrongly, that he was making full disclosures when he needed to,” she said, an utterance that, mealy as it feels on the tongue, could go well as the opening lines of a resignation statement.

Bashan has noted more recently the coverup culture of the Berejiklian Government, this time in relation to complaints of sexual misconduct against one of the NSW Liberal Party’s prominent Gay Gordons:

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s office secretly dealt with a formal complaint concerning inappropriate conduct by then families minister Gareth Ward last year, but kept the matter quiet.

She either thinks that this is ok, or assumes that the people of New South Wales will think it ok.  Sadly, she may be right on the latter.

Yoni Bashan has also noted the arrogance and the bullying tactics of the Premier, in this case in relation to the Premier’s breach of her own Covid rules, worthy of Paul Keating at his foulest and most intimidating:

Gladys Berejiklian's office tried to suppress her breach of COVID-19 testing guidelines and issue a threat to embarrass this newspaper if an article was printed …

Another journalist to (occasionally) take on the Unspellable Premier has been Miranda Devine, unloading here over the abortion fiasco:

Columnist Miranda Devine says New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has displayed “premature hubris, arrogance and a level of deviousness” in allowing rebel MPs Liberal to bring a leadership challenge against her. Tanya Davies, Matthew Mason-Cox [now sacked by the Liberals] and Lou Amato called for the spill in a joint statement released on Monday in response to the bill to decriminalise abortion. The MPs had requested four amendments but were notified by Health Minister Brad Hazard that none of them would be made. From New York, Ms Devine commented that Ms Berejiklian’s “incompetence” in handling the proposed legislation shows a “lack of respect of her own colleagues and conservative voters that voted her in”. “It’s a real betrayal and just adds to that feeling in the populous that you can’t trust even conservative governments like the Liberals … ”

Readers might be wondering – is there an upside to the NSW Liberal Government?  Yes, there is, but it must be placed in context.  The upside is that the current Government has excelled in building much-needed transport infrastructure.  Sydney in particular has benefited from necessary, if hyped, spending on bringing the city into the twenty-first century.  But – there is always a but with the NSW Liberal Party – there have been costly vanity projects, the focus has been largely on Sydney (the Pacific Motorway notwithstanding), there have been massive cost overruns, the toll roads are exorbitantly expensive for motorists, and the Government’s record looks good largely because its predecessor was so dreadful.  The Labor Party simply didn’t build necessary infrastructure, preferring instead the NSW Treasury’s now ridiculous looking neo-liberalism and obsessive fear of debt.  It is faint praise to laud as a government’s greatest achievement that which it should be doing anyway, as an automatic priority.

I should note that other voices praise the NSW Premier:

Two women have been honoured with the 2019 McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership, a non-partisan award recognising courageous, visionary and collaborative political leadership in Australia.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian was named the McKinnon Political Leader of the Year and Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp the McKinnon Emerging Political Leader of the Year.

The annual prize, which recognises two outstanding Australian political leaders, is a collaboration between the Susan McKinnon Foundation and the University of Melbourne.

Premier Berejiklian was recognised for her outstanding leadership of New South Wales, reflected in her balanced and empathetic handling of reproductive health reform, a strong economic and budget position, and record infrastructure expenditure.

Such was the announcement by the University of Melbourne (aka the Parkville Asylum, in the much-missed Professor Bunyip’s formulation).  Gaining the support of the woke brigade, who re-define the murder of the unborn as “empathetic reproductive health reform”, might well be regarded by the Liberal Party base and by conservative Australians as quite the hollow victory.

Mind you, recent data suggest a less sanguine outlook for the NSW economy, battling, as all the states and territories are, their own decision-making about Covid.  Channel Seven notes:

The latest [April 2021] quarterly state of the states report [on relative economic performance] compiled by Commonwealth Securities found NSW languishing in seventh position among the eight states and territories.

It is only just ahead of the Northern Territory.

Oh dear.  Not so good on economic policy after all.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation – of all institutions – claimed in October 2020 that Gladys had “governed well”.  Really?  Such a conclusion beggars belief, in light of the analysis here.  Perhaps she gets marks for her gender with the ABC. 

Then there is the overrated Troy Bramston, another leftie journalist, who described Gladys as “amazing”, but added, “shame about her Government”.  But she is the head of the Government!  I am not quite following the logic here.  Where does the buck stop these days, I wonder?  Needless to say, Bramston buys into the fiction of the “gold standard” Covid management as the core of his “amazing” claim.

Has the Government’s handling of Covid been that good?  Here is one report on the Ruby Princess cruise ship catastrophe:

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has apologised for the “hurt, stress and trauma” caused by the mistakes of NSW Health involved in the Ruby Princess coronavirus scandal after spending the weekend reading a 315-page report.

Some 22 people died and over 700 caught COVID-19 thanks to bungles in handling the release of passengers last March [2020].  Not only should they not have left the ship until tests were carried out, but the results were unnecessarily delayed – and even their instructions to isolate were incorrect, leading guests to travel home and overseas unchecked.

The Walker inquiry identified “serious”, “inexcusable” and “inexplicable” mistakes by health officials.

Where is that buck stopping again?  Why wasn’t Brad Hazzard, the NSW Minister, sacked over the Ruby Princess?  Whatever happened to that old principle that once was held to be sacred in representative democracies – ministerial responsibility?  Perhaps because Hazzard is one of the Premier’s trusted inner circle advisers.  An “elder stateman”, according to the Telegraph.  Despite his conspicuous mediocrity and lack of career achievement.  He is also the Minister for allowing babies to be killed up to birth, and the Minister for making cricket patrons in the giant Sydney Cricket Ground in mid-summer wear masks all day, and having poorly-informed police “visit” those who, like my asthmatic son, did not.  And (illegally) ask for his medical details.  That is Brad Hazzard.

On Covid-management, I have noted above the illiberalism of the mask mandates, the on again-off again restrictions on a whim, the catastrophe of the Byron Bluesfest cancellation over a single case, the cancellation of Christmas for the Northern Beaches, the implied threat of vaccine mandates, and so on.  Because the Premier – and all the other state and territory leaders, it must be acknowledged – avoided the Andrews industrial scale Covid disasters south of the Murray does not make her some kind of Covid policy megastar.  She and her ministers and officials have been lying about the risks of Covid since day one.  Just like all the others.  She again, like all the other jurisdictions save for Victoria, got lucky with the limited spread of Covid.  Government policy, in particular lockdown, doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to the spread of viruses, as many international studies have shown.  So, saying that New South Wales did Covid best is nonsense on stilts.

The ABC and the broad left recognise Gladys as “one of us” on the issues that now matter most to them, and, therefore, are routinely soft on her.   She is an unreconstructed leftist, after all.

Even the normally principled and cerebral John Anderson is now in the Hunter Valley spruiking for the NSW Government.  A sad development.  What actually is needed is not for the good citizens of the Upper Hunter to have a seat at the Cabinet table, but, rather, that this Government be consigned summarily to the dustbin of history.  Preferably this side of 2023.

So, where are we now, days out from the critical Upper Hunter by-election?  Revealing the contemptible arrogance of the Government, speaking after reports late last year of the allegations that triggered the Upper Hunter by-election:

The Premier said she wasn't concerned about difficulties passing bills, even with a minority government.

The Teflon Premier survives, and indeed prospers, amid the furore.  Hence the talk of her “going to Canberra”.  She who leads a government that is incompetent AND immoral.  She who knowingly slept with a dodgy MP for years, concealed her relationship from colleagues, gave personally signed off grants to his constituency, then (professionally) threw him under the bus.  And then, of course, still kept him on as a lover, until they got sprung, when she then threw him personally under the bus.  The scandals, where relating to land deals – as we were reminded most recently only this week by a fresh and damning Auditor General’s report on Transport for NSW land acquisition processes – or to alleged sexual crimes and misdemeanours, are now coming so quickly that it all seems a blur.  Perhaps the very frequency of the scandals diminishes their collective impact on weary voters.  We are simply rendered numb in the face of each successive impropriety.

A by-election loss might change it all, but somehow I doubt it. 

Nothing much anymore seems to anger voters, so long as the state continues to provide for all our needs and to buy off anyone who might dare to dissent or to protest.  Three backbenchers threatened to leave the Government in 2020 after its key members supported legislation to implement infanticide on demand.  They spoke at rallies.  We cheered them on.  And then all three caved.  The State of New South Wales now has enshrined abortion up-to-birth.  We have dispensed with the right of people to protest outside abortion clinics.  And the three members who seemed about to put principle above their careers continue to receive their parliamentary salaries and to support this vile government.  No doubt the factions will arrange for each of them to be duly dis-endorsed at the appropriate time, and we will hear of them no more.

Whatever the corruption, the incompetence, the coverups, the arrogance, the bungling and the blunders of the Gladys Government, there is perhaps one thing above all that should be said, ten years and a bit on from its original election.  That is, it is not remotely a liberal, let alone a conservative government.  Net zero emissions?  Try net zero liberalism.  As Mark Latham has said, if you don’t know what you believe in, and don’t provide policy direction and leadership, you are neither governing properly nor nurturing your party.  As Latham says, the Government of New South Wales is now “dysfunctional”.  Gladys is not amazing. 

And there is not a coat of paint difference between Tweedledum Liberal and Tweedledee Labor, in terms of ideology or policy.  Like the repugnant Boris Johnson, the Gladys Show has gone green.

The One Nation verdict on the NSW Government is spot-on:

After the long period of corrupt, incompetent Labor Government (1995–2011), NSW has had three Premiers from the Left-wing of the Liberal Party, products of the notorious Photios machine: O’Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian. There is a huge policy backlog in moving the agenda away from these elites and back into line with practical, mainstream thinking.


Let us leave the final word to a (leftist) journalist, Anne Davies:

When a politician no longer can see right from wrong, when they make repeated poor judgments, when they actually think political expediency is a legitimate excuse, it’s time to go.

All the more so when the politician is the leader of a political party. Because the moral values of the leader set the tone for the entire government.

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian’s energy, commitment and dedication to the job has been admired by many. But there is more to being a leader than just working hard.

… I seriously question her judgment. I wonder who Gladys Berejiklian is. I wonder what else is going on in the government and whether she has the moral authority to ensure the highest standards of probity.

The statement by Davies was made during the defence-of-pork-barrelling affair in late 2020, but it might be said on any given day in New South Wales these days.  The Government and its Premier are that bad.

Happy anniversary!


Read 1760 times Last modified on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 01:22
Paul Collits

Paul Collits is a freelance writer and independent researcher who lives in Lismore New South Wales.  
He has worked in government, industry and the university sector, and has taught at tertiary level in three different disciplines - politics, geography and planning and business studies.  He spent over 25 years working in economic development and has published widely in Australian and international peer reviewed and other journals.  He has been a keynote speaker internationally on topics such as rural development, regional policy, entrepreneurship and innovation.  Much of his academic writing is available at
His recent writings on ideology, conservatism, politics, religion, culture, education and police corruption have been published in such journals as Quadrant, News Weekly and The Spectator Australia.
He has BA Hons and MA degrees in political science from the Australian National University and a PhD in geography and planning from the University of New England.  He currently has an adjunct Associate Professor position at a New Zealand Polytechnic.