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A Word of Friendly Advice for Premier O’Farrell.

July 8, 2011

An entirely friendly piece of advice to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, uncoloured by any partisan point-scoring: if you allow members of Infrastructure NSW to become star-billing at Liberal Party fundraisers you will release a bad odour in the earliest days of your government.

The things government do at the start of a term send messages that get amplified with time. Another consideration is this: a Premier must work very hard to emphasise probity is at the heart of his government. Even to an exaggerated degree. Let your guard down once, and the wrong message gets picked up by everyone.

What Nick Greiner is doing is very, very dubious.

The people appointed to Infrastructure NSW have already boasted it will have a hands-on role in infrastructure. It will maximise private sector involvement. It will get into the detail of what goes where and who does what.

It must be above any suspicion of partisan bias. It should be a process completely independent of politics.

But if senior names from the board of Infrastructure NSW are revelling at Liberal Party fundraisers an unmistakeable message goes out to the business community. It is this: if you want fair consideration when the tender process is up and running you’d better buy a slew of $165 tickets for the event. You don’t want to look over your shoulder and see that rival firms have snapped up more tables.

As I said, bad odour.

From the earliest days.

As the character in Bugs Bunny was fond of saying, “You’ll be sorr-rr-y.”

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