Flat White

The IBAC sensation: ‘ICAC, hold my beer’

12 October 2021

1:01 PM

12 October 2021

1:01 PM

State corruption and integrity commissions are well and truly du jour at the moment. Less than a fortnight ago, ICAC felled its third New South Wales premier by simply announcing an investigation into Gladys Berejiklian.  And yesterday, IBAC proverbially beseeched ICAC to ‘hold its beer’ while it launched into public hearings connected with allegations of branch stacking and misconduct centred around former Andrews government minister, Adem Somyurek.  

And it started with a bang — which has been followed by a series of explosions this morning. 

Federal Labor MP, Anthony Byrne, was first in the hot seat. He didn’t prevaricate. He didn’t evade. He answered the questions. And boy, were those answers explosive. He personally admitted to, amongst other things, branch stacking, paying for memberships, and employing staff who didn’t show up to work but who he believed were instead engaging in factional matters. 

His words were extraordinary but his demeanour was calm. Despite being a politics junkie, the extent of the alleged industrial scale misconduct floored me. I know questionable things go on in politics – I’m not totally naïve – but I never imagined it being so systemic and so brazen.  

And yet here it was being recalled like a recipe for chicken soup.  

The admission about the misuse of taxpayer funds was particularly galling. Seeing taxpayer money being piddled, so effortlessly, up the wall always hits a very raw nerve. And it’s bad enough thinking about the tax deducted from your pay but it’s beyond sobering when you send the ATO a direct debit every quarter concurrently wondering why in fresh hell you even bother. The gulf between the difficulty in earning a living and the ease in which tax revenue is dissipated is a shame on our political class.  

Twitter, as always, was the repository of insane responses to the day’s events. As if on the road to Damascus, the Che Guevara t-shirt clad lovelies have become proponents of the rule of law and due process. Apparently, the ‘right’ has a thirst for mob justice, wants Anthony Byrne strung up, and has no regard for due process. This is the same compassionate side of politics which has been incessantly baying for the blood of Gladys Berejiklian, Georges Pell and Christian Porter regardless of the fact that either no charges have been laid or no firm convictions yet recorded. Seemingly, the rule of law only applies to those with whom they share a political gutter. 

By end of the day, IBAC had claimed its first scalp in Luke Donnellan who resigned, as proceedings unfolded, from the Andrews’ ministry. Twitter commentary from Adem Somyurek himself suggests there will be more unvarnished revelations.  

More heads may roll. 

Methinks the ‘honour among thieves’ is rapidly evaporating. 

Caroline Di Russo is a lawyer, businesswoman and unrepentant nerd.

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