Williams' Word with Ray Williams | August 14

TIME FOR AN ELECTION?

The past week has surely indicated that it is time the Coalition Government admitted it is incapable of running our country and the people were given the opportunity to vote for a more responsible team. The present Government’s actions on same-sex marriage have been childish. And their lack of reaction to illegalities in the banking sector have been scandalous. The present government has been a sad failure – is there any alternative to an election, to give the people the opportunity to select a team more capable of making decisions?

The latest suggestion of some sort of letter writing to tell the government our views on same-sex marriage is ridiculous, costly and ineffective. We could find the public opinion by a simple poll by the opinion poll experts at a fraction of the cost – and even then it would have no impact on that group of politicians who have no intention of changing their views.

Not that we expect them to change their genuine beliefs for or against the issue. Someone should tell them that this is what democracy is all about. Our parliamentary system allows everyone elected to parliament to have their own views and to stick to them unless they are convinced otherwise by parliamentary debate. If any individual has strong views, one way or the other, they should be encouraged to express those views and to vote according to their conscience. It’s what our system of democracy is supposed to be all about.

THEN THERE ARE THE BANKS

The actions by members of the government over same-sex marriage is of concern but even more important is the resistance by the government to a large-scale inquiry into the banks and the ‘top end of town’.

This is the government that created a very costly Royal Commission into one union, which certainly found some officials guilty of misconduct but specifically avoided questioning the corporations which must have been complicit in these illegal actions.

Some union officials ended up in court convicted of taking money illegally from the union members’ funds – but what about the series of revelations about large companies that have been stealing money from their employees by paying them far less than the law said they should be paid? Have any of them appeared before a court? 

And the government has done nothing about an inquiry into the banks and other financial giants. It is a real worry.

NORTH KOREAN THREATS

President Trump might have used language the North Korean leadership could understand when he talked about terrible things happening if North Korea continued in its sabre-rattling ways and its threatening use of missiles – but similar threats of disastrous retaliation is surely not the answer.

It seems North Korea has become isolated from the rest of the world with one friend left, China. Both claim to be communist countries but it seems this is all they have in common. China itself has done some sabre-rattling with its claim of sovereignty over small islands which other nations claim as their own, but it must surely be concerned about the North Koreans. It should be using its pressure on this rogue state.

But where is the UN Security Council when it is needed? The threats by North Korea and the US are of concern to the rest of the world and the Security Council should surely have the power and authority to force all the parties to back down. 

A VERY BRAVE LADY

This old scribe has never met Kate McClymont but sincerely believes she should be brought before the NSW Parliament – to be thanked for her skills and bravery.

This journalist who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald was almost solely responsible for the investigations and subsequent arrest and conviction of that group of NSW politicians who, otherwise, would have made a fortune out of crooked deals.

Few people would realise the risks she took. She must be very brave indeed to stand up to the pressure and implied threats she faced. Experienced journalists know that as soon as they start questioning illegal activities they can expect a letter from some top-level solicitors threatening a million dollar court case unless they stop their investigations. 

Without any inside knowledge, I would imagine she did have support from one of the law enforcement agencies but it was she who persistently, over many months, wrote news items about this groups’ activities. It takes a very clever and very brave person to question any illegal activities, particularly those of high-level politicians.

The ABC has also produced some equally brave reporters who have been prepared to question illegal activities in other state parliaments and police forces.

While it is an indictment on the state and federal governments themselves to have left it to ordinary investigative journalists to root out these illegal activities by people in high places, history has shown we need organisations that are independent of government to investigate questionable activities by important people.

Newspapers no longer have the finances or staff to conduct these important investigations and there are continuing threats to reduce even further the funds for the ABC and SBS who have led this important work. The ABC only last week showed how much of the material we carefully place in bins expecting them to be recycled are actually being dumped, the same as any other rubbish.

We need independent investigations to keep us all (including governments) honest. 

We certainly need a federal ICAC – but first of all, surely it is time the NSW Government showed its appreciation for the work of this very clever and very brave lady.

  • Ray Williams has been a Post columnist since retiring from the newsroom in 1993.
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