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Oct 4, 2017

Australian governments influenced by Mafia, corruption expert warns

We should not pretend that Mafia-linked corruption is absent from Australian politics. Mandarin journalist David Donaldson reports.

Politicians meeting with organised crime figures is a sure sign that government has been impacted in some way, says an Italian corruption expert who has researched the Mafia in Australia.

“Whenever you see high level political proximity of certain underworld/upper-world mixtures, it already means the public sector has been touched somehow,” argues Dr Anna Sergi of the University of Essex.

“I’m not saying it’s systemic, I’m not saying it’s endemic, I don’t know that, I haven’t done research into public administration in Victoria, but all the research I’ve looked at and all the countries I’ve looked at, you don’t get to a certain level of political proximity unless you have certain interests already in the public sector.

“How that manifests in Victoria I don’t know, but I’m quite sure you cannot have one without the other. Good luck to you,” she said this morning.

“If you have crime and political proximity, it’s already too late.”

The comment was prompted by a question about Victoria’s perception of itself as an uncorrupted jurisdiction, at a conference being held this week by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy was recently revealed to have dined with an alleged Mafia boss.

Sergi explained that one of the features distinguishing organised crime from regular criminal pursuits is the planning involved: organised criminals take a long-term view, cultivating useful “upper-world” contacts before requesting favours.

Politicians or top public servants are then able to enter into a reciprocal relationship with those in the “underworld” and use their leadership capacity to benefit themselves and their contacts while maintaining clean hands.

A rotten public service tends to be the starting place for deeper corruption.

“There is no way in which political corruption happens without public administration being corrupted first,” Sergi argued.

Ensuring investigators are able to target politicians, and withholding immunity, are important parts in keeping both politics and public administration clean.

Italy has produced some particularly eye-popping examples of organised crime. Sergi cited the dissolution of the entire local government of Reggio Calabria over Mafia ties, as well as a scandal known as Mafia Capitale, involving some 40 defendants, including the former mayor and many other top political and civil service leaders in Rome.

Yet she argues corruption is “not a status, it’s a behaviour” — and one which we should not pretend is absent in Australia. Italy is “not that special” and there are clear echoes of the Italian Mafia clans in the behaviour of various organised crime groups here.

*This article was originally published at Crikey sister site The Mandarin

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5 thoughts on “Australian governments influenced by Mafia, corruption expert warns

  1. brian crooks

    the liberal and national parties could perhaps teach the mafia a thing or two about corruption, years ago the mafia moved into the big corporations and business wash their dirty money, I wonder how much , if any, found its way into political party`s by way of corporate donations, might go a long way into explaining some of the decisions and legislation of recent years

  2. 124C4U

    No Shit, Sherlock!?
    A person would have to have been as blind as a welders dog not to see that.
    Slo news day at Crikey today?

  3. old greybearded one

    In NSW, corruption is the only logical reason for some decisions made by the government as far as I can see (that goes for Teflon Mike as well). I would not put it down to the mafia, they are a bit yesterday. Property developers, coal lobbyists and water thieves, but maybe racially reflecting more recent migrants. Think, ever increasingly, China. We could include our home grown ones like Packer as well.

  4. AR

    Given the already utterly corrupt nature of government decisions, state & federal, one wonders why anyone would bother.
    Over generously, many of us once thought that it was simple stupidity and incompetence but that was then, this is now.
    The future, if any, will be fun.
    For some. Are our lamp posts sturdy enough?

  5. klewso

    Behind Adani, developers and the coal barons : subversion of “governance for the majority”; governing for the benefit of vested/donor interests.
    …… What is “corruption” nowadays?

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