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‘A different league’

Saturday, 10th May, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

Coalition scandal nothing compared to Labor, says MP

The behaviour of Liberal ministers caught up in a donations rort was “vastly different” to that of some disgraced former Labor figures, according to local MP John Williams.

Mr Williams also believes the days of political lobbying are “just about over” in the wake of Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations.

His comments came as the ICAC investigates ‘Eightbyfive’, a sham company allegedly set up to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars from banned political donors to NSW Liberals.

The investigation has already led to the resignation of two government ministers and forced the Liberal Party to stand down two MPs.

NSW Opposition leader John Robertson this week unveiled a bill which he said would create a new standard for MPs.

Under the bill ministers would have to regularly publish online contact with lobbyists, companies or MPs relating to commercial transactions or decisions.

“The public needs to look at the members of this parliament and know that each of us is here to serve the community, not ourselves,” Mr Robertson said.

“In light of the continued revelations in ICAC, the people of NSW are understandably disillusioned ... the people of NSW deserve to know who their elected representatives are meeting with, and which interests may be influencing ministers.”

But the government yesterday blocked debate on the bill, which would have also forced MPs to regularly disclose the financial interests of their families.

Mr Williams yesterday dismissed the bill as an attempt by Labor to try and get “some credibility” out of the current ICAC investigation.

He agreed that more could be done to stamp out corrupt behaviour but added the government was “going to set the rules”.

“I think you will see some changes but they will be determined by this government,” he said.

“(Premier) Mike Baird, from the time he walked into parliament, wasn’t happy with the way political donations were happening.”

But Mr Williams said the alleged soliciting of money from donors for political campaigns was also “vastly different” to what some Labor ministers got up to during its time in office.

The Member for Murray-Darling was referring to ICAC investigations that found widespread graft by a number of ministers and MPs in the former Labor government.

However, he said that corruption was limited to only a “small minority” of politicians and most went into public life for the right reasons.

“The vast majority only want to serve their constituents,” Mr Williams said.

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