Eddie Obeid is proving to be a daily embarrassment for Labor in Australia. Now they are threatening to engulf Bob Carr.
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The spat between former premiers over who was to blame for the rise of powerbroker Eddie Obeid in NSW Labor has again raised questions about how a succession of leaders failed to check his power.
As the allegations of wide-ranging corruption have emerged at the corruption watchdog, former premier Bob Carr has sought to portray himself as having stood up to Eddie Obeid’s influence. It was his successor, Morris Iemma, who had given him ”special status” within the state government, Carr told ABC1′s Four Corners this week – and, by implication, left Obeid unchecked to exploit his position.
Iemma responded with vigour, pointing out that he did not give Obeid a ministry, Carr did.
The picture of how Obeid accrued so much clout in the ALP is much more complex. Iemma might have been a closer friend to Obeid, but Carr turned a blind eye and at one stage even gave character evidence for the powerbroker in a defamation suit against the Herald.
Obeid, a budding Lebanese businessman and owner of ethnic newspaper El Telegraph, joined the Labor Party at 29 and was elected to the Legislative Council in 1991. A good networker with extensive ethnic contacts, he wielded significant clout in the ALP’s western Sydney branches even before he entered State Parliament.
Labor is really taking a pummelling in Australia as corruption case after corruption case is trotted out across the country.
This drip feeding of corruption stories affect Labor across the board….but it is what happens eventually when you get in bed with the unions:
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Former New South Wales premier Morris Iemma will be the first witness to give evidence at what is expected to be one of the nation’s most explosive corruption inquiries.
On Monday Geoffrey Watson, counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, will deliver the opening address for the second of three inquiries into serious allegations of corruption involving former Labor ministers.
Operation Jasper, which is expected to run for several months, will examine the circumstances surrounding a decision made in 2008 by the then mining minister Ian Macdonald to open a mining area in the Bylong Valley for coal exploration.
The commission will investigate whether that decision was influenced by former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid .
The first witness, Mr Iemma, will start giving evidence at 10am on Tuesday. He will be followed by another former premier, Nathan Rees, who is currently the shadow police minister. Next on the list will be former planning minister Frank Sartor.
The evidence of the three senior ALP figures, who are assisting the corruption commission, has been the subject of much speculation. Just how frank the trio might be is causing some trepidation within Labor ranks.
Corruption allegations and investigations into dodgy unionists and labour politicians are coming to a head in Australia and the body blows are mounting.
At least in Australia they have an Independent Commission Against Corruption to investigate these allegations. Here in New Zealand our police seem reluctant to even investigate dodgy politicians.
PART ONE of the trilogy of corruption inquiries starring former Labor ministers will get under way today in a purpose-built hearing room to accommodate a battalion of barristers who, over the next five months, will represent more than 70 witnesses.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption’s three-part inquiry is expected to be one of the most sensational in NSW history and will examine explosive corruption allegations against the former ministers Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald and Eric Roozendaal.
Also on the witness list are three former premiers – Morris Iemma, Kristina Keneally and Nathan Rees – along with senior ministers including Frank Sartor.
Mr Roozendaal, who is the only one of the three Labor heavyweights still in Parliament, will feature in the first of the inquiries, which will start at 10am and is expected to run for a week.
Operation Indus will investigate the circumstances in which Moses Obeid, one of the five sons of the former minister, provided a brand new Honda CRV to Mr Roozendaal, the then minister for commerce and roads.
The first witness scheduled to give evidence is a Camperdown panel beater, Peter Fitzhenry, who will be followed by a car dealer, Keith Goodman.
The pair are expected to provide details of Moses Obeid’s 2007 request that the pair source a black Honda CRV for Mr Roozendaal but to put the car in the name of Nata Re.
Once Mr Roozendaal had taken delivery of the Honda, Moses Obeid organised the $44,000 payment from an account of his business partner, the property developer Rocco Triulcio.
Nata Re is the sister of Mr Triulcio. Mrs Re has previously told Fairfax Media that she had never owned a Honda CRV and that she had never heard of Eric Roozendaal.
This isn;t going to end well for Labor.Comment On This Article
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LABOR powerbrokers chose Nathan Rees as premier because there were too many ”wogs” in cabinet, according to the first insider’s account of the last years of the former NSW government.
In his political memoir, The Fog on the Hill, the former senior minister Frank Sartor recalls being told in 2008 by the then NSW ALP general secretary, Karl Bitar, that the party favoured Mr Rees to take over from Morris Iemma, who was struggling in the polls.
”I canvassed at some lengths the reasons why I thought Rees was unsuitable. Bitar countered with his reasoning that the cabinet was too ‘on the nose’ and that there were too many ‘wogs’,” writes Mr Sartor. In cabinet alongside Mr Iemma and Mr Sartor were Joe Tripodi, Michael Costa, John Della Bosca and John Hatzistergos.”Rees, he said, was a break from that – an Aussie Westie. What a way to choose a premier! Imagine if BHP chose their CEO using focus groups? What a bunch of superficial fools, I thought.”
If Goff won’t go quietly some of these guys will take care of him no worries. They rolled leaders with a degree of low bastardry that was as beautiful as it is brutal.
Rees’s only qualification for the job, according to one of many detractors in his party, is that he was a “westie” and not a “wog”, apparently an asset when appealing to voter parochialism. The way he was plucked from obscurity to take the state’s top job is a glimpse into the empty heart of NSW Labor today.
The then ALP general secretary, Karl Bitar, and his predecessor, Mark Arbib, now a senator and parliamentary secretary, wanted to replace Iemma because of his electricity privatisation policy.
Ironically, their focus groups at the time were negative about the “wogs” in cabinet – Iemma, Michael Costa, Frank Sartor and Joe Tripodi, and a cynical idea emerged that a “skippy”and “westie” like Rees, who had done nothing objectionable in his limited time in the portfolios of utilities and emergency services, would win the electorate’s heart.
These blokes make Fat Tony look like Tweety Bird, and H2 look like Tinkerbell.Comment On This Article