Tuesday, 18th March 2014


"Corruption," said counsel assisting Geoffrey Watson, "acquaints a man with strange bedfellows."

Kicking off another sensational episode of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, Watson alleged that federal assistant treasurer Arthur Sinodinos stood to make tens of millions of dollars from a company with links to the Obeid family.

The scandal which for so long was synonymous with NSW Labor has jumped party lines. Suddenly federal Liberal MPs are fending off increasingly pointed questions.

"Arthur Sinodinos is doing as outstanding job as Assistant Treasurer," said Senator Cormann. "He's a very good person," said Liberal MP Jamie Briggs.

Senator Sinodinos has been a major player in the Liberal Party for a long time. He was chief of staff to Prime Minister John Howard from 1997 to 2006, and is a former Finance Director and President for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party.

Sinodinos is also the man charged with formulating the Coalition's new policy of deregulating the financial services sector. While he has the clichéd "full support" of his colleagues, that won't last long if the public starts to draw connections to his business advisory roles, which are currently under investigation, and ask if it's really appropriate that he continue in his current role.

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

Sign up to get Politicoz delivered
to your email address every weekday at lunch time.

March in March

"The organisers of March in March are understandably chuffed. The weekend saw demonstrations numbering many thousands in the cities and bigger than expected crowds in many of the regions. For an event arranged at short notice and built from the grass roots, it was an impressive resultBut it should be put in its context."

AlsoVoter apathy and vested interests the new norm (Ian Verrender, The Drum)

ICAC: Arthur Sinodinos stood to make 'tens of millions' from Australian Water Holdings deal

"Labor and Liberal figures including federal Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos stood to make tens of millions of dollars from a company linked to the family of crooked former powerbroker Eddie Obeid,  a corruption inquiry has heard. Senator Sinodinos, then NSW treasurer of the Liberal Party, was installed on the board of the Obeid-linked Australian Water Holdings (AWH) in 2008 'to open lines of communication with the Liberal Party'."

Also: Uncle Arthur's bag of tricks (The Monthly)

Asylum seekers give details on Operation Sovereign Borders lifeboat turn-back

"Asylum seekers who were forcibly returned to Indonesia by lifeboat have given the first detailed account of their ordeal, and a unique insight into the Federal Government's Operation Sovereign Borders. New video footage of their journey has also emerged, despite Australian Government attempts to keep the turn-back operations secret."

Insulation scheme dreamed up over a weekend, royal commission hears

"Two public servants were given just one weekend to design a program to insulate every home in Australia in two years, the Royal Commission into Home Insulation has been told. On the Friday afternoon of the 2009 Australia Day weekend, Federal Environment Department bureaucrat Mary Wiley-Smith and a fellow bureaucrat were told  to have the plan ready for costing by the Department of Finance and Regulation on the Sunday."

Coalition's red tape contradiction: fighting guff with guff

"Besides the obviously expensive frills on this “no-frills” PR campaign, the thrust of the government’s intentions – to conduct regulatory impact statements (RIS) on all new laws and get rid of unnecessary old ones – is in line with a largely sensible report from the Business Council of Australia some years ago. But a few problems immediately spring to mind. Like how the government intends to take into account the reasons that regulations are imposed in the first place."

It's blue skies for Abbott, but will he take advantage?

"Whoever becomes premier is unlikely to take the bold and unpopular decisions needed to haul the rust-bucket South Australian economy out of the doldrums. And it also means that if Tony Abbott ever had any serious intention to use an unusual conjunction of state and federal governments to make major inroads into the moribund federal system, he will almost certainly have to abandon them. In practice, he may be just as glad."