Way back when John Howard first formed Government in 1996 he stood on a policy of clean Government. Initially he was as good as his word and a Ministerial Code of Conduct was drawn up which mainly focussed on Ministers having to divest themselves of shares which may be advantaged by their personal decisions as a Minister.
This sounded like a darn good idea to the Voters, but it had serious consequences for John Howard’s first Government.
In the very first year 2 Minister’s scalps were claimed in October, followed by one falling to travel claims in February the following year. July 97 claimed another scalp through being landlord of a shopping center while in charge of tenancy regulations. Another 3 were clean bowled by travel claims a mere 2 months later.
7 scalps in 1 calendar year was most impressive but Howard was haemorrhaging Minister’s at an unsustainable rate so he had to ease the standards. The next 2 potential victims survived share ownership problems and the restriction on share ownership was removed.
Very nice work initially and a crying shame the Ministers couldn’t simply follow the guidelines.
Roll forward to today and the chances of such Leadership being part of Tony Abbott’s style are less than zero.
Well before the real Election campaign we had some very dodgy dealings with the Peter Slipper case and what started as a gift to Tony went seriously base over apex as the behind the scenes details emerged. After claiming he was pursuing Peter Slipper to protect the integrity of the House, he quickly lost interest when one of his potential new Ministers was named (by the Judge) as attempting to interfere with the electoral process. A clear case of Leadership being required if any moral standards exist or if the electoral process is respected.
During the Election campaign it became abundantly clear that Jaymes Diaz was well and truly out of his depth. Expectations that he might show leadership and set Jaymes aside to protect the Party were dashed. It’s simply not Tony’s style. Mates before the Party seems more his cup of tea.
What does this mean for the integrity of the current Coalition?
If Mal Brough is pursued and found guilty it will be someone other than Tony kicking him out of Parliament. He simply can’t do the hard stuff.
What does it mean for the Royal Commission into the Institutional response to Child Abuse?
If Leadership is required to deal with Church bodies, it wont be Tony laying down the Law, and even more importantly, if he has the opportunity to dry up the funds to sustain the Royal Commission and accidentally help his Mates, well now we finally come to an area where he will be comfortable making a decision.
I appreciate pollies are only human and we all have our peculiarities, but as John Howard showed in the early days of his Government, you can respect the Voters and play a straight bat on ethical matters. Even if you fall away in the end you can start with respect.