My apologies for not following through with my promise to make my next post about Miles Jordana, Howard’s fall-guy. I’m still waiting for a former colleague on the issue and some further and better particulars from overseas. I anticipate this in the next few days. We are finalising the petition and resolving a few technical hiccoughs and hope that the petition will be up in the next 48 hours.
In lieu of the post about Jordana, let’s take a look at a current issue with a remarkably sordid history.
In 2003, 2005 and 2006, Thomson’s corporate credit card was used to pay escort services in Melbourne and Sydney while he was national secretary of the HSU. He says his signature on receipts to escort agencies were forged.
A handwriting expert, Paul Westwood, formerly of the Australian Federal Police, compared the signature on Thomson’s driver’s licence with the signature on a credit card voucher and concluded they were probably made by the same person. (Paul Sheehan, SMH 25, 08, 2011)
What is it with the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and sleaze? Since 2000, I and members of my extended family (all Wiradjuri) have been trying to bring to the attention of the public the alleged involvement of the ACT and presumably the NSW branches of the ALP in the alleged theft and transfer of monies from the ACT Home Loan Portfolio to the ALP. What is of interest and concern in this matter is that the monies that were allegedly stolen and transferred to the ALP were funneled through a Sydney brothel.
The difference between the Craig Thomson affair and the ACT Treasury matter is that the Gillard Government is one seat away from the trash bin of history, while at the time the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue (the Commissioner) was raising the issue about the missing money from the ACT Home Loan Portfolio, the ALP had secured safe tenure in the ACT firstly with the support of the Australian Democrats and now with the Greens.
On this issue, I was given the original of a sworn statement made in late 2003 by a former partner of the Commissioner. The statement is interesting because it details a discussion between this person and a ALP ministerial staffer. During the course of this conversation, the ALP staffer sets out in some detail what will befall the Commissioner if he does not stop investigating the missing money from ACT Treasury. What is more interesting is that this ALP staffer with a precognition that rivals Nostradamus was able to set out in exacting detail what the Australian Federal Police would do to the Commissioner before they even started an investigation into him. How amazing!
In order to derail the Commissioner’s investigation into the fraud, the ALP ACT Government firstly had him transferred out of that position into a less sensitive position, from which he was fitted-up in and sacked. In the process of this occurring, a large number of documents that formed part of the Commissioner’s investigation disappeared from ACT Treasury. Such is the arrogance of the parties involved that even documents that were referenced by the Commonwealth Ombudsman as being in ACT Treasury were made to disappear.
I am raising these issues again, now because of the involvement of the ALP yet again in the sex industry. This is an involvement that extends well beyond Craig Thompson and the ACT Treasury affairs. In September 2004, the NSW District Court found Neville Francis Hilton, the former President of the Albion Park Branch of the ALP and the Throsby Federal Electorate Council guilty of 19 counts of child prostitution offences.
The District Court heard that two girls aged 13 and 14 at the time of the offence, worked at a brothel Hilton part-owned near Wollongong in August 2003. Then we have the case of Bernard Finnigan, who resigned as a minister and as a member of the South Australian Executive Council on 21 April 2011. The night before his resignation Finnigan was arrested and charged with four child pornography offences. Premier Mike Rann asked that Finnigan be suspended from the ALP while his case was before the courts; the suspension was endorsed by the party’s state executive on 3 May 2011. He remains a member of parliament, and still has a ministerial staff. At a Magistrates’ Court hearing on 23 August 2011, the prosecutor told the court that Finnigan was likely to face additional charges.
More noatbly, let’s not forget the spectacular downfall of former NSW ALP MP Milton Orkopoulos, convicted of child sex offences in March 2008 and upheld at appeal in August 2009.
While we’re on the issue of the ALP and sleaze let’s not forget that self-confessed Christian Kevin Rudd went to the Manhattan “gentlemen’s club” Scores in September 2003, when he was Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister. He was in New York at taxpayers’ expense as a bipartisan observer at the UN.
While we’re on the issue of self-confessed Christian Kevin Rudd and the Manhattan “gentlemen’s club”, it is worth remembering that on 20 August 2007, media group Fairfax sacked award-winning blogger Jack Marx after he posted a satirical article imagining what Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd got up to in a New York strip club. If the ALP wants to be the party of sleaze, the least they could do is have the courage of their convictions.
ALP sleaze and police corruption
The term corruption is used to describe many activities, from bribery to perverting the course of justice. Commentators vary in the breadth of definitions of corruption – for some, having sex on duty is misconduct, for others it is corruption. However, most agree that police corruption includes the following types of behaviours.
Types and dimensions of police corruption
|Corruption ofauthority||When an officer receives some form of material gain by virtue of their position as a police officer without violating the law per se (for example discounts at MacDonalds).|
|‘Kickbacks’||Receipt of goods or services or money for referring business to particularindividuals or companies. In NSW there have been both Ombudsman and
ICAC inquiries into kickbacks from tow truck drivers to police.
|Opportunistictheft||Stealing from arrestees (sometimes called ‘rolling’), from traffic accidentvictims, crime victims, or the bodies or property of dead citizens.|
|‘Shakedowns’||Acceptance of a bribe for not following through a criminal violation – not making an arrest, filing a complaint or impounding property.|
|Police protection of those engaged in illegal activities (prostitution, drugs, pornography) enabling the business to operate. Australian vernacular ‘greenlighting’.|
|‘The fix’||Undermining criminal investigations or proceedings, or the ‘loss’ of traffic tickets. Australian vernacular ‘gutting’, a brief to weaken the case; and ‘pulling’, withdrawing or losing a brief to prevent prosecution. Also ‘running interference’, to hamper an investigation.|
|Direct criminalactivities||A police officer commits a crime against a person or a property for personal gain in direct violation of departmental and criminal norms.|
|Internal payoffs||Prerogatives available to police officers (holidays, shift allocations, promotion) are bought, bartered or sold.|
|‘Flaking or padding’||Planting of or adding to evidence. Australian vernacular ‘load up’ or ‘brick up’.|
Police corruption is typified for many people by bribery. Therefore, it follows that corruption is generally about personal pecuniary gain and that it is undertaken by individuals acting in secrecy. This view sits uneasily with evidence from a range of investigations into police corruption which reveal corruption as endemic and systematic, involving networked groups of officers acting for both personal profit and in some cases group glory.
Police corruption necessarily involves an abuse of position. As police officers exercise extraordinary powers over members of the public, any corrupt act by officers is an abuse of the ‘special trust’ invested in their position. However, corruption that leads to perceived lawful outcomes also can occur; process corruption or noble cause corruption is an example of this. Kleinig’s broad definition of corruption, ‘in exercising or failing to exercise their authority, … act with the primary intention of furthering private or departmental/divisional advantage’ is useful in that it encompasses both the means and the ends of corrupt acts.
The Royal Commission into the New South Police Service employed a similar, but broader definition:
Corruption had accordingly been taken to comprise deliberate unlawful conduct (whether by act or omission) on the part of a member of the Police Service, utilising his or her position, whether on or off duty, and the exercise of police powers in bad faith…..In each case, the relevant conduct is considered to be corrupt, whether motivated by an expectation of financial or personal benefit or not, and whether successful or not.
Wood specifies a number of acts as corrupt, including neglect of duty, fabricating evidence, applying trickery, and concealing any form of misconduct by another member of the Police Service. This definition includes Kleinig’s means and ends of corrupt acts – but also encompasses a number of acts such as having sex on duty, which fall outside other definitions of corruption.
Implicit in any typology of corruption is an ordering of acts from least serious to most serious. This carries with it the idea that corruption is a slippery slope. For example, accepting the free coffee will lead inevitably to accepting bribes. Two schools of thought exist about the ‘slippery slope’ argument. The logical version argues that the acceptance of a minor gift, the cup of coffee, involves the same implicit rationale as the acceptance of a major gratuity, the bribe. Both acts are not only wrong, they are wrong for the same reason. A variation on this version is that while there is a gap between the coffee and the bribe, there are other levels of gifts and gratuities between these two that make setting a logical boundary impossible.
The second version of the ‘slippery slope’ is the psychological version. Sherman’s 1985 paper ‘Becoming Bent’ charts what he calls the police officer’s ‘moral career’, the process of self-labelling that takes place as an officer moves from minor forms of corruption to major. The basis of Sherman’s argument is that once a certain practice is accepted, people are likely to go on to accept other practices that are increasingly unacceptable. Two particular practices prompt officers to step onto the slope and make it difficult for police to stop the slide. These practices are affiliation, the social ties that bind police together, and signification, the way in which police represent their behaviour to themselves to link the various stages of corruption.
The AFP and the second version of the ‘slippery slope’
The problem with the ‘slippery slope’ is that once it has started it is hard to stop. The ‘slippery slope’ can also be extended to include the politicising of a police force, which is exactly what happened to the AFP under the Howard/Keelty partnership. As Australian parliamentarian and former ANO operative Andrew Wilkie has observed:
Australia’s security agencies – principally the ADF, Australian Federal Police (AFP), intelligence services and relevant policy departments – have become increasingly politicised under the Howard Government. Direct political interference and self-censorship have shaped the agencies and skewed their outcomes to the point where they now cannot be relied upon to consistently put the public interest ahead of the Government’s political interests.
It is the politicization of the AFP and other Australian police services that allows the politics of sleaze to continue in the ALP and to perhaps a lesser extent in the coalition parties. Once the politics of sleaze extends to fitting up innocent third parties to prevent them from doing their jobs and exposing the sleaze in the public interest, then it has passed the point of no return and the real losers in the case of the AFP are the Australian people and Australia’s democracy.