Funny what happens once an election is out of the way. Suddenly NSW households are facing a 26% rise in their electricity bills over the next three years, small businesses will pay $1,000 a year more from July but there’s no increase for large wholesale customers.

And the increases are supposed to be to repair the aging electricity grid that the state government has allowed to run down while sucking as much money as possible out of its electricity companies.

Oh well, it might encourage a few folks to turn off their lights without a coercive WWF campaign.

But the real flavour of the continuing Sussex Street regime is provided by the Paul Gibson affair – or perhaps affairs. The real stink isn’t so much about whether Sandra Nori might or might not have been assaulted in the early 1990s, it’s how someone as “colourful” as Paul Gibson would ever be considered for higher office.
Anyone who calls himself “The Publican’s Friend” as Gibson does must naturally be big in the Pubs Clubs and Developers Party, but it simply shows contempt for the electorate to promote him. It also shows contempt for his better parliamentary colleagues who have very little regard for him.

Gibson of course was cleared of corruption allegations by an ICAC inquiry in 1998. While he is not guilty, there was still plenty of interesting evidence about the sort of character he was and the company he kept.

There is a particularly bemusing saga about the purchase of a mobile phone for Gibson by Kings Cross criminal Louis Bayeh. Nothing corrupt in that, the ICAC decided, but large parts of proceedings nonetheless read like Sopranos script.

Taste this little transcript of Bayeh’s evidence:

When we have lunch I get a phone call from Sult – Sult – Sultan. He sell mobile phone and all that. He spoke to me, and Tony, Tony De Bruyne spoke to me. He asked me where I am. I tell him where I am. I said, if you’d like to come and join me you’re welcome to come and join me. They come down. Tony said to me he know Paul from before but I introduce him to Paul but he said he know Paul from before, Tony De Bruyne. Sultan had the mobile I introduced him to Paul and they start talk about the phone, why do you want a phone? He said “one day anyhow I want a phone,” and “I don’t have the money with me now”. And Tony said, “don’t worry, I’ll pay it” he give him the cheque and he give me the money later. And I said Gibson, “don’t worry about it, I’ll – I’ll fix it up.” And I give, then Paul refused to take it then Tony follow him to the car, put it in his car so a few day later I give the money to Tony but what Tony did, he give a cheque and there was no money in his cheque account.

We just don’t get enough testimony like that. Mobile phones were expensive items back in 1991 – $2,249 for the one Gibson obtained. When the story first hit the fan in the SMH, one of the great paragraphs in journalism became possible.

I can’t put my hand on it, but it was something very much like:

The MP, his mistress, the brothel keeper, his wife and the chauffeur met in the parliamentary office to work out how to explain the payment for the phone.

So now we know what Morris Iemma meant when he said there was more to do…more of the same.