The dodgy relationship between the NSW government and the pubs and clubs industry received more exposure over the weekend – not that anyone seems to care.

The hotels keep pouring cash into the state Labor Party and the Dilemma gang keep finding new ways to bend and twist policy to give them what they want. The latest demonstration comes from the SMH‘s Andrew Clennell documenting how pubs are beating the already watered-down anti-smoking regulations. It’s not a surprise to find Frank Sartor’s name mentioned in dispatches as helping make things happen.

The pub industry, or, more correctly, the pokie machine industry, rivals property developers as Sussex Street’s main paymasters. It seems to work nicely for them – when the hotels and clubs move to a theoretical smoking ban next year, “outside” is defined as a room with 25% of its walls and 10% of its ceiling capable of being opened. Bung in a few extra windows and a sky-light and keep puffing.

The point is broader than the smoking issue. Poor old Kim Beazley forever lives with criticism of his leadership when he’s up against a government that has been delivering on its fundamental responsibilities. You might not like their policies and Howard/Costello could be shot for what they haven’t done, but they haven’t materially failed.

The NSW government has failed on any number of grounds, yet where’s the criticism of opposition leader Peter Debnam when he trails in the polls? It’s seems no-one particularly cares.

The smoking story might be symptomatic. There’s no mention of the opposition, no comment from the relevant shadow minister – they’re irrelevant.