The NSW steel city of Wollongong is capturing the nation’s headlines after a long spell of media deprivation. This time it’s because of an hilarious investigation into corruption at Wollongong City Council, a body with a long and colorful history of bribery, croneyism, nepotism and s-x of all kinds – straight, gay, you name it.

Every day for the past fortnight, witnesses have scurried in and out of public hearings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the institution which has brought sustained enjoyment to Sydneysiders for almost 20 years as it has outed countless corrupt public officials.

As Gong-gate has unfolded there has been a parade of shifty councillors, dodgy developers, grim-faced council officers and a glamorous blond town planner who had s-x with local property investors while viewing their development applications, all bearing an unnerving resemblance to members of the cast of the Sopranos.

Once again, Steel City is proving that when it comes to scandal, it can compete with any city in the nation. The record speaks for itself.

One recent mayor, George Harrison, a solicitor, made a colorful contribution to “Wonderful Wollongong” before his Lagoon Restaurant unfortunately and mysteriously burned down and he was forced to resign after becoming a bankrupt. He’s reportedly received an ICAC subpoena and will be called in the next few days to give details of the reconstruction of the Lagoon, a highly recommended haunt for ALP fund-raisers.

An earlier lord mayor was the late Alderman Tony Bevan, a property developer and real estate agent. He held a pilot’s licence and his specialty was taking local boys for a joyride in his cockpit with the young scallywags sitting on his knee.

He also was an habitué of the Kings Cross nightclub called Costellos where he took under age recruits from Illawarra to satisfy the lusts of his odious accomplices in pedophile networks.

Bevan handed the town hall to the late Alderman Frank Arkle who was also the Independent MP for the city from 1984 to 1991.

Educated by the Christian Brothers and awarded the Knight Officers to the Order of the Merit of the Italian Republic in 1987, Lord Mayor Arkle was attracted to teenage boys.

He was murdered in 1998 in a frenzied bashing attack by a young man who left the former MP’s body with a Rotary badge plunged in his eye.

Throw in under-age s-x cases involving two prominent Catholic clergy, Brother Michael Evans and Father Comensoli, satanic cults, massive contraband traffic through Port Kembla, the worst tattoos and haircuts in the Asia Pacific region, and spectacular ALP branch stacking – and you can see why Wollongong remains a regular source of diversionary interest for stressed Sydneysiders.

The Iemma Government’s spin doctors are busily promoting the line that Gong-gate is something peculiar to the strange and exotic culture of the “capital of the leisure coast”. The less palatable truth is that it is symbolic of what’s happening across NSW. It just happens that Emerald City is much better at disguising these things and, with the help of a politically controlled police, a gutless Opposition and a complacent media, keeping them out of ICAC.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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