In his little over two months collecting
the Premier’s pay packet, Morris Iemma has done nothing to suggest he is other
than a stooge looking after his faction’s paymasters – property developers and
drug dealers.

They’re legal drugs, of course – alcohol
and tobacco – but it looks like the former Health Minister has failed an early
test of whether he is anything more than a tool of the not-very-nice Terrigals
faction that gave him his job.

In the grubby little business that is NSW
government, one of the grubbiest corners is the one occupied by the pubs and
clubs lobby. All those lucrative donations to the ALP.

And if that pays off in delaying the
introduction of some genuine anti-smoking legislation, or just continuing the
present practice of non-enforcement, well, it’s money well spent.

Of course it’s not just NSW – the other
state governments are also hooked on dubious political donations – but Sin City
provides such obvious examples.

Today’s SMH carries a choice little story on how Iemma’s government is ignoring complaints
about pub patrons being forced to gamble if they want to smoke on premises. The
good old “lack of evidence” excuse despite no less than nine complaints about a
single club.

Here’s a follow-up for the SMH: Check out what enforcement is being carried out on the
theoretical partial smoking ban that is supposed to be in place. Bugger-all is
the answer. My personal favourite is the pub with an open mezzanine level that
is its theoretical “non-smoking” area. It’s as silly as the old days on planes
where smoking and non-smoking areas were adjacent.

Iemma has no excuses on this one. As Health
Minister he was across all the facts. The pub lobby has managed to delay a full
ban on smoking until 2007. On Smokin’ Morris’ performance so far, they’ll no
doubt start campaigning well before that date for another compromise.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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