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2009/05/24

Corruption in the House

UK Westminster.
New Zealand Beehive and Parliament Building.










On the same day as news reports are published disclosing further irregularities over British MPs' expenses rorts (e.g., Expenses row over MPs' second homes), there is this interesting news report about the restitution of ill-gotten gains - Crime boss's luxuries up for sale.

However, the news reports do not attempt to relate these items to each other or a third (the Damian Green fiasco) and a fourth item (the "Cash/loans for Honours" scandal) of past news. In case anyone does not see some some common threads here, I shall expand on this.

  • The Damian Green fiasco. He is the MP whose parliamentary offices were searched - in breach of the law - by police of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, who had been sent by someone in authority to find out how he had discovered that the police had got the main civil liberties campaigner - Shami Chakrabarti CBE - as a main focus for a "national security investigation". Labour party apologists claimed that it was necessary for the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command to be involved in this affair, simply because they had inherited the functions of the former Special Branch, and that they were used to dealing with complicated computer evidence etc.
  • "Cash/loans for Honours" scandal: Somehow this (the need for police of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command to be involved) did not apply to the "Cash/loans for Honours" scandal investigation into the then Prime Minister Tony Blair and his cronies, even though the investigation included email evidence from No 10 Downing Street. This was left to a "normal" police investigation team led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who, by an irony of fate, has now replaced the disgraced Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, who was in charge of the supposedly elite Counter Terrorism Command unit when these controversial arrests and searches were made.
  • These above two points are discussed here on Spy Blog.
  • The MPs' expense claims: After a disgraceful and strenuos effort to cover up and protect MPs' expense claims from being publicised, the staunchest defender of their secrecy - the speaker of the House of Commons, MP (Labour) Michael Martin - has resigned after calls to resign from MPs. Since being publicised, it has become quite apparent that MPs have been abusing the expenses system and using it as a rort (definition: a trick, a fraud, a dishonest practice) for many years.
  • What Michael Martin was trying to do was to avoid the hard light of scrutiny being shone onto the subject of MPs' expense claims. In an award-winning essay on Ethics in Business in the Harvard Business Review by Sir Adrian Cadbury in the 1990s, he (Sir Adrian) gave a general rule of thumb: If a business process/practice can not stand the hard light of scrutiny, then there is probably something unethical about it.
  • The common thread: corruption amongst lawmakers - all the above points involve unethical/illegal practices.
  • So, if illegally-gotten gains can be recovered as in Crime boss's luxuries up for sale, then why not in the case of MPs' illegally-gotten gains for all those years?
That question does not yet seem to have been posed by the British news media.

However, what I find really interesting is closer to home: Whilst it may seem all to easy to go "tut-tut" or "we always knew they were rotten inside" over this about the corrupt practices (QED) of British lawmakers (MPs) and the related legal system, if we now turn the same hard light of scrutiny onto the New Zealand parliament and how it has managed the country, then what might we find there, and how might we recover the hundreds of millions of dollars of apparently ill-gotten gains involved? I refer here to rorts including:
  • The apparently government-sanctioned financial raping of the New Zealand public with the BNZ in the late eighties (read Daylight robbery : the rise and fall of the "people’s bank" (2001), by Ian Wishart ISBN 0958205469).
  • The huge tax rort by companies exposed in the Winebox affair, apparently largely controlled/managed by Fay Richwhite.
  • NZ MP Winston Peters was really the only MP who ultimately called Michael Fay and David Richwhite to account for these things, and he was then pilloried.
  • The question has already been asked: Was it because Richwhite helped bankroll the Labour Party that the then Labour government refused to prosecute anyone over the Winebox affair?
  • Fay Richwhite have also been obliged to pay back millions because of their involvment in insider trading over the sale/purchase of TranzRail.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about Fay, Richwhite & Company:
This could seem to answer the question posed above: How might the NZ public recover the hundreds of millions of dollars of apparently ill-gotten gains involved? That is, the answer is that those culpable have been and will be allowed to get away with it, without restitution. There is no Robin Hood syndrome in Fay, Richwhite & Company.

Does this indicate that the gullible New Zealand public gets the government it deserves?

Enquiring minds need to know.
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