Monday, July 20, 2009

A difference between Australia and New Zealand

Currently Taito Phillip Field is on trial on 15 counts of bribery as an MP. If found guilty, he would become the first NZ MP ever convicted of this offence.

Meanwhile, over the ditch, former Queensland Cabinet Minister Gordon Nuttall has just been convicted on 36 charges of receiving secret commissions while in office and sentenced to seven years. And he's not the first. He's the fifth Queensland Cabinet Minister to be jailed for corruption (four were jailed as a result of the Fitzgerald Inquiry) - and that's just Queensland. Other Ministers have been jailed for corruption in New South Wales, where Corrections Minister Rex Jackson took bribes to let people out of jail, and Western Australia, where two former Premiers and a former Deputy Premier were jailed after a Royal Commission into corruption.

While we have a lot in common, this is a fundamental difference between our two countries. Despite the ravings of the sewer, New Zealand is fundamentally not a corrupt country. Meanwhile, tight connections between business and government mean that high-level political corruption is endemic in parts of Australia. So how did things manage to go so wrong over there?