Salman Rushdie spotted gothic horror behind the gothic architecture of
the City of Churches on a visit back in the eighties. He described
Adelaide as “the perfect setting for a Stephen King novel”.

A better literary comparison for the latest murky tales
from the South Australian capital might be the world of corruption,
cowardice and culpability James Ellroy has depicted in works like LA Confidential.

Parliamentary
Speaker Peter Lewis has claimed two recent murder victims made
allegations a politician frequented a gay beat in Adelaide’s parklands
(“Inquiry Link to Double Murder Victims“), according to the Adelaide Advertiser.

He has since alleged images exist showing the politician engaging in sex with an underage male (‘Video shows paedophile MP‘).

Lewis
is a Liberal defector who won the Speaker’s job after his casting vote
put Labor into power in the hung parliament that followed the 2002
election.

Naturally, the focus has been on the credibility of his claims. That seems to be disintegrating (‘Key witness “not seen” MP tape‘)

Lewis has responded according to today’s Advertiser
by saying a senior officer has defamed him and that officers were
acting in an unprofessional manner and had not properly investigated
the claims previously.

The furore over the allegations
themselves has meant that little attention has been paid to the men who
let the notoriously idiosyncratic Lewis into the bully pulpit.

Lewis
became Speaker thanks to a corridor deal stitched up by one of Premier
Mike Rann’s staff, former senior adviser Randall Ashbourne who now
himself faces unrelated charges of abusing public office (‘Government Adviser Charged‘).

The Lewis deal was Rann’s coup.

Ironically,
the politician believed to be the subject of Lewis’s allegations has
done much to shore up Labor’s numbers since then by bringing the
state’s sole National MP, Karlene Maywald, and independent and former
rank and file Liberal Rory McEwen into the Ministry.

Speaker Lewis, however, is Mike Rann’s creation. If his allegations are unsustainable, he will have to go. Will Rann follow?

It
must be a period of exquisite agony for South Australian Labor’s
hardest of hard men, deputy premier, treasurer – and police minister –
Kevin Foley.

He can see the job he wants just days away – but will the political pain be worth it?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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