Doctor and activist

Gladys Has to Go 15/10/20.

I feel somewhat sorry for Gladys Berejeklian.   She is an intelligent woman who was born in Sydney in an Armenian family and according to Wikipedia did not learn English until she was 5.  Raised in Australia and reasonably intelligent, she was not married by the age of 24, which is often expected in a traditional Armenian community.  So she would have had a lot of pressure to succeed in politics.  To do this she had to please the men with power in the Liberal Party and its donors.

She may have been honest, but as Shadow Transport Minister she initiated the light rail project and then was responsible for it and the underground freeway project.  The cost of the light rail project blew out and the tunnels have gone from $10 to $18 billion.  Sydney is the last city in the world to be building underground freeways, and the opportunity cost is that we will now not have a decent metro network but the Roads lobby was stronger than the Rail lobby, so this outcome can be understood in a compliant political context.  Gladys is hard-working and took advice during the bushfires and COVID19 crisis, but it seems she was vulnerable to Darryl Maguire, the undistinguished ex-member for Wagga Wagga who is now before ICAC.

If it is true that she told him not to tell her things that he was doing and she saw developers that the relevant Minister refused to see for him, she is in trouble.  It is also alleged that Maguire asked her as Treasurer to see people who wanted to build the Wagga Wagga by-pass, which the Roads Dept. thought was not a cost-effective option, and such was actually built.   Building roads favours the builders, but also changes the land value hugely, so some developers stand to make a fortune.  Maguire was in ICAC today and part of the hearing was in camera, so the situation is not yet clear. 

As a person interested in the appalling job that iCare has done, and aware of the venality of its management and the fact that it paid for two US political advisers in Treasurer Perottet’s office, I wondered why there was no suggestion that he should resign.  A letter in yesterday’s’ SMH suggested that perhaps with Gladys’ personal situation as it is she was in no position to challenge Perottet.  We might remember that an honest man, Premier Barry O’Farrell, resigned for not remembering that he had never received a bottle of wine from a dodgy developer and being goaded into saying so as an unequivocal statement.  Standards have gone down a long way since then.

Gladys should go, so should Perottet, but sadly neither the NSW Liberals nor the Labor Party are replete with talent to replace them.

Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

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