Michael Pascoe writes:

An intimate dinner with NSW Planning
Minister Frank Sartor at Aria overlooking the Opera House? $2,500 a head. A
cosy dinner with NSW Premier Morris Dilemma and just 14 other “selected
business leaders”? $5,000. The whole NSW Government? Priceless – but I’m sure
something could be worked out.

Anne Davies has the story in the SMH of the state Labor Party’s latest tacky fund raising efforts. The most
interesting bits are the monetary value the Labor’s State Secretary Mark Arbib
puts on the various elected representatives and a lobbyist’s reaction to the
price tag:

One lobbyist, who asked not to be named, said he had been
shocked to see the prices. “The prices being asked are now at parity with
the federal prices,” he said. “This is rapid inflation for
contributors. I think people in the business community will be shocked at
this.”

The federal Liberal and Labor parties have regularly sold
access to senior ministers as part of their business observers’ programs
associated with their national party conferences. The former premier Bob Carr
also staged a similar fundraiser at Aria at $5000 a plate.

The general point might be that your
average property developer has much more to gain from a state government than
the feds.

The value of lobbying various portfolios
might well show in the price list of the ministers for rent. For example, for
$2,500 a head, you get Energy Minister Joe Tripodi and Water Minister David
Campbell at the same time. Transport’s
John Watkins and Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal also form a double act. The $5K
ticket for Iemma probably gets Treasurer Michael Costa thrown in for free, but:

Other ministers who will be
hosting dinners during the Official Iemma Cabinet Series include the Minister
for Planning, Frank Sartor, who is unlikely to have trouble attracting 15
members from the property industry, and the Minister for Health, John
Hatzistergos. These two ministers will host their dinners solo.

I suspect the relevant Latin phrase is “cui
bono”.

Peter Fray

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