The Howard Government is trying to make the notorious leasing of
Labor’s national head office, Centenary House in Barton, to the
National Audit Office, a political liability but there’s quite a debate
going on about whether this really matters or not.

Crikey’s
editor Stephen Mayne and our political commentator Hillary Bray differ
on the importance of Centenary House and each lay out the arguments as
follows:

Howard Government running of empty

By Hillary Bray

Fact 1: 

The Centenary House/Australian National Audit Office deal was a rort.

Fact 2: 

It was well reported at the time it first became public.

Fact 3: 

The Government has been trotting out the yarn like mad over the last couple of weeks.

Fact 4: 

They’re not getting much of a run with it in the mainstream media.

Supposition: 

They are running a story from the ars*-end of the Keating Government because they can’t get anything new to throw at the ALP.

If it’s true, it’s worrying – for them. 

Dirt a decade old isn’t that good in an election year.

Why Centenary House matters now


By Stephen Mayne

 

Fact 1: Mark Latham claims he wants to make politics more ethical.

Fact 2: Mark Latham ended the super rort which has been in place since 1948.

Fact
3: We have just seen the large donations made by John Curtin House to
the ALP when the party claimed it could not renegotiate the Centenary
House lease due to a Macquarie Bank mortgage.

Fact 4: The assumptions in the Royal Commission have been proven incorrect.

Fact
5: Centenary House is now the most expensive space in the southern
hemisphere making it a world scale rort of $36 million direct from
taxpayers to a political party. This is unprecedented in the western
world.

Ramsey enters the Centenary House debate

It was good to finally see a senior political commentator deign to tell
the public about Labor’s rort that is the Centenary House lease.

It was a detailed explanation from Alan Ramsey in the Saturday SMH but
the Bruvvas can’t be pleased that tens of thousands of Sydney-siders
now know about this lurk.

Ramsey also runs some interesting exchanges from Iron Mark’s interview with the Parrot on Wednesday morning: A chronic pox on Labor’s house

———————————————————————-

Your feedback on Centenary House

Crikey,

I’ll
back your ethical judgement over Hillary’s on this one.  The
Centenary House lease stinks. It should be fixed. It doesn’t pass the
smell test.

 

The fact that it
involves the federal auditor makes it far worse.  Latham should be
out there saying, “I’m sorry, this is wrong, IT WAS BEFORE MY
TIME and under my leadership,
I expect better use of taxpayers money-  and I’m going to insist
the lease is renegotiated and allocate the money saved to struggling
authors who write books- so that parents can read them to little girls
in gingham dresses who will rise up intellectually nourished, dash
through the white picket fence and forever after skip merrily
across sunny fields with a dribbling labrador as guardian. 
Problem solved.

 

Howard is an
adept ‘dog-whistler’, and the message from all this is “it’s OK for
Labor to milk the public purse and subsidise their activities”. People
sort of expect politicians who have been in power for any length of
time to give jobs to mates and award lucrative contracts to
‘friendlies’ regardless of any competancy or merit.

 

Labor in particular excel at the appointment of “mates” to sinecures.

 

For
Labor to do nothing leads to the confirmation in the public mind that
“the fish rots from the head”.  It’s all about the “tone at the
top” of Labor and despite most of the general public never having heard
of the Centenary House deal, it will as an issue, gather legs out
there in the community and Howard is tuned in enough to the people who
would have voted for Hanson (if she were still a deity for them) to
realise that this creates doubt about Labor.  Doubt, in an
economic climate like we have at the moment, is almost as motivating a
factor for a swinging voter as fear.

 

That’s why Howard is playing this ‘fiddle’ like an Indian deity with a bow in all 10 hands.

 

If
Centenary House is left as a running sore for Labor, in a tight
election, it could make all the difference- just as 1500 voters
scattered around the country once did for Paul Keating.  I’d
steer well clear of Kirribilli House until this is fixed if I were Mr
Latham.

 

If Latham is as street-smart as he claims, he’ll make sure this gets fixed. 

 

Regards,

Former non-Liberal political staffer

 

 

Peter Fray

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