Almost everyone who knows him says Arthur Sinodinos is a good guy. And smart. And so well-connected that he was described as Australia’s most “covertly” powerful person by the Financial Review just three months ago.

They’re all perfect qualifications for Arthur’s new job as a director of Goldman Sachs JB Were, one of Australia’s biggest investment banks. In fact, too perfect. That’s because Arthur’s connections stem directly from the role he has held for the past nine years as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff and leading advisor.

Now Arthur is moving effortlessly from the top political office in the land to a key role in a major deal-making organisation that relies on excellent government access and was one of three banks that last month put away the government’s $15.5 billion T3 offering.

If Arthur had been in the same powerful government position in the US, Canada or the UK he wouldn’t have been allowed by law to take the Were’s job straight after leaving the PM’s office. As Stephen Bartos, director of the National Institute of Governance at the University of Canberra, writes in Crikey today, such a move in most other Western democracies “would be regarded as a public scandal”.

But not down under. Here, the revolving door between top government positions and highly lucrative private jobs is working without a squeak. Arthur is merely following a conga line of cabinet ministers and other senior bureaucrats through the door, only slowed down by the weight of their Rolodexes and the drowsiness induced by their farewell parties.

Just make sure you leave the oil can behind for the next fat cat, Arthur, and don’t mention the P words. Probity and propriety, in case you’re wondering.

Peter Fray

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