Sports broadcaster Tim Lane didn’t miss Barry Hall or the AFL’s disciplinary system when ABC Radio’s PM program called yesterday:

Barry Hall was given a glorious reprieve in the lead up to the 2005 grand final. In my opinion he shouldn’t have played in that game because of a misdemeanour that he committed in the preliminary final against St Kilda, and yet a way was found for him to play in the game. The game is very big on talking about the messages that it delivers these days and I would suggest that the message that that event’s delivered to him was that he could get away with it.

Unfortunately, failing to punish or even remember misdemeanours seems to be a recurring theme in Australia at the moment.

ANZ Bank retrenched Laurie Emini back in 1997, but a decade later they’d lent the spivvy Opes Prime CEO $650 million and are now battling the biggest reputational shellacking in its history.

The same thing happened with our biggest corporate collapse. John Howard’s then insurance regulators told him to cancel FAI’s licence way back when he was Malcolm Fraser’s Treasurer. A lunch with spivvy founder Larry Adler ended any chance of that but whatever deal they struck contributed heavily to the $5 billion collapse of HIH in 2001.

Then again, John Howard’s moral bankruptcy was on display for all to see when he appeared on the Alan Jones show the day after his own media regulators had shredded the shock jock’s reputation in the 1999 cash for comment inquiry.

And what about One.Tel founder Jodee Rich? If our two richest families and investors more broadly had remembered the collapse of Imagineering after the 1987 crash, surely One.Tel would never have got off the ground.

We see the same thing in politics. Brian Burke went to jail but 20 years later his power inside the Labor Party remained unchecked until the CCC finished him off last year.

Even Graham Richardson refuses to go away. Despite revelations of Swiss bank accounts and battles with the ATO, there was Richo again last night featuring on Four Corners as a “strategic adviser” for Hunter Valley developer Hardie Holdings.

It’s hard to think of a more fortuitous property deal than what reporter Sarah Ferguson laid out:

SARAH FERGUSON: Hardie bought the land – 1700 hectares for an estimated $75 million.

MATT SOMERS: You’ve got to remember we’ve been acquiring the site for nearly 10 years before the strategy came out.

SARAH FERGUSON: That strategy was a regional development plan for the Hunter under the direct control of Minister Sartor. In 2006 he stepped in to rezone almost half their land here for housing. Hardie immediately sold it to another developer for $185 million retaining a 25 per cent share of the project and netting an instant profit of more than $100 million.

Richardson presumably pocketed millions in success fees from Sartor’s controversial decision to rezone the land. Even James Packer continues to employ Richo despite his notorious reputation.

Throw in Mick Gatto and the conflicts at the ASX and we really are a banana republic.