Posts Tagged ‘powerbrokers’

NSW Parliament may be Australia’s oldest, but it’s become a funny form of democracy. Our voting system of course entrenches the tweedle dum & tweedle dee two-party system of Lib-Lab tyranny, where they fight over occupying the most middle ground. No doubt this is a fair simulacre of the mass voter mindset, and certainly of the mortgage-driven popular consumer zeitgeist, but democracy has lost its frisson, to say the least. And any real ballot choice.

As the mostly incumbent government in this hollowed-out and politically exhausted terminal state of NSW, Labor has refined its tricks, starting with so-called pre-selection. The long tradition of branch-stacking that effectively disenfranchised its ever-diminishing party membership base, has evolved into a more efficient system. Nowadays the state party executive simply dispenses with branch members altogether by parachuting in their latest party hack.

Factions are another vital cog in these Labor machinations: left, right or centre, we don’t have a clue what they represent, but they’re entitled to share in the political goodies. And infamous ‘powerbrokers’ keep it all churning by re-arranging ministerial deckchairs on NSW Titanic, organising internal coup d’etats and taking care of ‘mates’. The recent Tripodi sacking was mildly entertaining, with the sackee’s guileless protestations of loyal innocence accompanied by a predictable family photo!

Add in big doses of influence and corruption with party donations from everyone trying to buy favours, from the ubiquitous developers downwards, plus the open door policy of lobbyist coffee shop meeting culture, and you have a recipe for devalued, downtrodden, dud democracy in NSW. Unfortunately there is no Hercules in sight to clean out its Augean political stables. Democracy in name only, but government by self-appointed cliques is its modus operandi.

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The ongoing debacle of leadership of NSW Labor and Premier’s role is a soap opera, tragi-comedy or facsimile of TV series The Sopranos. Moir’s SMH cartoon (Aug 27) shows a limousine of Mafia-style gangsters driven by a familiar Labor figure and hapless Premier Rees surrounded by goons. A caption reading “He Who Must Be…” is to be completed by ‘Obeid’, the name of the driver, who says “Why don’t we go for a little ride and consider your future…?”

During these undermining manoeuvres for leadership change and number-crunching, press leaks start spouting. ‘Powerbrokers’ of NSW Labor’s Right faction, Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi, appear as apparent king-makers and organisers of political assassination. Each was named in dubious property dealings, neither is Premier material.

Media questions are met with hand-on-heart declarations from underminers of undying loyalty to their fearless leader, who remains intransigent about resigning, for the time being. Unfortunately the alternatives are as unattractive as the powerbrokers, and with names like Della Bosca, Sartor et al, any resemblance to characters in The Sopranos is purely coincidental.

Powerbrokers by definition have unelected positions of inordinate influence, even in the so-called Labor machine. Media report the moving & shaking as though its regular democratic business, and ‘powerbroker’ is used as a neutral descriptor in news items as though it’s normal nomenclature.

The whole process of factionalism makes a Labor government look even more rotten, cynical and corrupt, continuing that age-old Labor tradition of ‘faceless men’ except that nowadays they’re powerbrokers and far from anonymous.

Poor NSW’s powerbroken arse! Rome fiddles & burns, and our public hospitals, transport, schools and planning remain political footballs.


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