Yes, there have been problems with corruption in the NSW Labor Party. But NSW Labor leader John Robertson says things have turned the corner.
Yesterday’s Crikey editorial failed to acknowledge the serious reform effort underway in New South Wales Labor to restore public trust in politics.
The recent revelations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption don’t just affect the Liberal and Labor parties — they affect confidence in our entire system of government.
In NSW Labor’s case, there is no doubt that several individuals disgraced the party’s cause during its last term in office, and the public expects strong action to ensure this can never happen again.
From February 2013, when I announced the “New Standard” package of reforms, Labor has worked hard to attempt to restore that confidence and trust in politics.
That is why I have:
Expelled Eddie Obeid, Ian MacDonald and Joe Tripodi from the Labor Party for life;
Established a committee of senior party figures, chaired by respected former deputy premier John Watkins, to interview all potential Labor candidates and ensure they are people of integrity, worthy of community support;
Directed all NSW Labor shadow ministers to publish their full taxable income (including investments, trusts and outside business interests and those of their spouses and dependents), effective immediately;
Banned NSW Labor MPs from holding second jobs, removing potential or perceived conflicts of interest, effective immediately;
Committed to full public financing of election campaigns and offered to work with Premier Mike Baird to make this happen in time for the 2015 election;
Committed to a ban on ministers, their departments and staff meeting with lobbyists in a future Labor government;
Committed ministers in a future Labor government to publish monthly online diaries — disclosing every meeting or interaction that relates to a commercial decision or transaction;
Committed to establish an independent probity panel that will scrutinise the granting of all new mining licences under a future Labor government; and
Committed to establish an Inspector General for Parliamentary Standards with unprecedented powers to investigate and penalise MPs who breach the Parliamentary Code of Conduct.
Under my leadership, NSW Labor has also begun genuine and meaningful reforms aimed at engaging with the community and opening up our party to new voices. These include:
Direct membership election of the NSW parliamentary leader, commencing next year;
Community preselections — already trialled successfully for the City of Sydney mayoralty and the seats of Balmain, Newtown, Campbelltown and Londonderry (with another shortly to be held in Ballina); and
The NSW Labor Policy Forum — a vehicle designed to drive new ideas from the grassroots membership up.
In light of the 2011 election result and the revelations seen at ICAC, I take the task of restoring integrity to NSW politics extremely seriously.
I have also said to Mike Baird and the government that I want to work in a bipartisan way to ensure the next election — and the next NSW government — can be the cleanest ever.
Unfortunately, Baird has so far failed to embrace many of the reforms that I have put on the table.
The “New Standard” reforms I have announced build on the important ban on developer donations introduced by Labor in 2009. Former federal Liberal MP Ross Cameron has described them as the toughest anywhere in the country.
Certainly, they are the most stringent ever seen in NSW politics and squarely in line with what the public has a right to expect.
With the continued revelations coming out of ICAC, now is the time for action — and Baird should take up my offer to work with him to restore trust in politics and government in NSW.