Utegate: it’s not the lobbying that’s dodgy, it’s the lying about the lobbying

June 20, 2009 — 5 Comments

Rudd hit by car scandal: SMH

With PM Kevin Rudd now in more than a little bit of trouble, the question comes down to will heads roll over the matter?

What I still find amusing is Rudd’s insistence that he doesn’t do favors for donors, when there would hardly been an MP or Senator past or present that hasn’t. Large donors to candidates rarely give out of the goodness of their hearts alone, but as a way to gain access, and on occasion for the odd favor or two. It’s the way the system has always worked and having worked in various capacities with Federal and State members, I’ve seen it first hand.

Of course there’s a big difference between making a representation on behalf of a donor who is also a constituent, and having the Prime Ministers Office, and Treasury Department intervene….that takes it to a whole new level.

However I’d argue that the issue isn’t so much that it happened, but Rudd denied it in Parliament and in the public arena. The validity of the email aside, it’s known fact that Treasury helped Rudd’s mate, how they got to that point may only be a matter of semantics.

But what next, because there’s no precedent that I can recall like this given it is more than just a case of misleading Parliament.

If it is just a case of misleading Parliament, Rudd gets a slap on the hand, but he all but loses the public’s trust.

If it’s more, could he be forced to resign?

I’m betting unlikely, but that’s without knowing if any laws were breached in terms of the lobbying to begin with. Maybe an abuse of office…. hard to say.

On the other side, Turnbull is playing high stakes poker and he may not win yet. But if Rudd is proven to have lied, the next election becomes a whole lot more interesting .

Update: of course Rudd has the numbers in the Rep, but this is isntereting (via Oz Politics)

Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 which has limited and clarified the privilege and contempt powers of the Federal Parliament. Each House may impose penalties for contempt limited to imprisonment not exceeding six months for a person, or a fine not exceeding $5,000, or not exceeding $25,000 in the case of a corporation. It has also made the imposition of penalties subject to judicial review. This Act also prevents members of parliament from being expelled.