Senator-elect and former Sussex Street supremo Mark Arbib is filling in the weeks before he takes his place on the red leather benches working for Bell Potter Securities, the Sydney Morning Herald reports today.

The toiler’s friend is working a bloke worth more than $64 million, after turning down offers from the Labor lobbying firm Hawker Britton and the NRMA. Not the best look.

Past – and current – links of parliamentarians and senior staff seem set to bedevil the Rudd government. Labor’s state success compounds the problem. There is massive potential for corruption and conflicts of interest – or at the very least some messy perception issues – with Labor in power in all states and territories and Labor linked lobbying firms knocking on doors all over the nation.

Just days after last year’s election the Daily Telegraph reported:

Labor Leader Kevin Rudd’s chief of staff lobbied the [NSW] State Government on behalf of the Packer-owned Betfair betting agency as part of a string of secret meetings stretching back to 2003 … Explosive documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph show David Epstein was in a lobbying team that asked the Iemma Government to let the PBL-backed company operate in NSW …

Crikey is aware of further allegations surrounding this matter and Epstein’s role in negotiating other contracts during his time in government affairs. It could also be added Epstein’s partner is a senior staff member at lobbyists GRA.

This is more than just sniffing sleaze. It is part of a bigger danger our new Prime Minister must be aware of. A global economic slump will cripple the Rudd government. It will make it look incompetent.

Perceptions of incompetence are bad enough for governments. Perceptions of incompetence and sleaze are guaranteed to kill a government stone dead. Ask John Major.