Remembrance of rorts past: why the McKenzie scandal might not count for a hill of beans

Government expenditure Government grants Ministerial conduct Political corruption Australia

The sports rorts scandal has evoked in some commentators considerable nostalgia. There was a time, we are assured, when politics was governed by genuine integrity. Andrew Peacock offered John Gorton his resignation after his wife appeared in an ad spruiking bedsheets. Mick Young had to step aside from the Hawke ministry over a failure to declare a Paddington Bear on his return to Australia from an overseas visit. The inevitable comparisons have been with an earlier sports rorts affair, sometimes also recalled as the whiteboard affair. It resulted in the resignation of Keating government minister Ros Kelly in 1994.

By way of contrast, an adverse Australian National Audit Office report disclosing political rorting on a grand scale of a A$100 million government grants scheme was insufficient to blast National Party Deputy Leader Bridget McKenzie from her job. Rather, she has been forced from her position on the ludicrously narrow and contrived grounds of a conflict of interest – a grant to a gun club of whom she was an undeclared member. Let the jokes about Al Capone and tax evasion flow!

Read the full article on The Conversation.

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