NEWS AND VIEWS
Thursday, 14 August 2008
A minority of one
I hope the Victorian Government did not spend too much money on its inquiry into links between organised crime and betting at horse race meetings. Anyone with half a brain knows that you cannot have money laundering without a cash business. Over the years there have been countless examples of criminals, and even thoroughly respectable gamblers like Kerry Packer, explaining considerable amounts of cash in their possession as betting winnings. The more sophisticated ones have bet in cash and got paid by cheque drawn on the account of a bookmaker or the tote. The report today to Victorian Racing Minister Rob Hulls by retired Judge Gordon Lewis saying that money laundering was a common occurrence in betting rings in the thoroughbred racing industry thus told us nothing new. Nor is the recommendation that there be a Racing Integrity Commissioner to oversee integrity procedures and act as an ombudsman for the racing industry likely to make any difference. Why would we expect a new layer of bureaucracy to be more effective than the existing one with racing stewards in charge of these matters of integrity? I cannot see how it will be but I found myself in a minority of one when I gave my answer to one of those "give us your opinion" polls on the website of the Melbourne Age.
When I last looked I continued to be in a distinct minority but at least had not delivered the only vote in favour of the existing protectors of racing integrity!
An interesting explanation to come
The Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon will be thankful she was not the minister when the Therapeutic Drugs Administration shut down Pan Pharmaceuticals in April 2003. She will not have to squirm around the question of ministerial responsibility when she explains the circumstances which led to the announcement this morning of an extraordinary payment of $55 million to the major shareholder in Pan, Mr Jim Selim. Any question of responsibility lies with a previous Coalition Minister.
Ms Roxon will, however, have the task of restoring confidence in the TGA following the settlement. Something clearly went very wrong for the Government to throw in the towel in defending Mr Selim's law suit. No wonder the man, who I recall being vilified at the time, sounded a little bitter when he said he was still waiting for a public apology from the TGA for its actions, which he said had come at great personal cost to himself.
The delay by the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions in deciding whether to take action against anyone over the statements made by politicians and others over dinner at the Iguana night spot suggests to me that there is certainly no open and shut case. The NSW State Education Minister, John Della Bosca, and his wife, Federal Labor MP Belinda Neal, both have their careers on hold while the DPP deliberates. The couple have been wisely silent over recent weeks but Ms Neal's confidence about her political future has improved sufficiently for her to threaten to take The Australian to the Press Council for reporting that she "wears the pants" in her marriage to NSW Labor MP John Della Bosca.
Don't mention the war
An extraordinary thing about the Sydney Morning Herald website this morning – on the home page there was not a mention of Georgia. The only reference to the war that has many people worried about world peace was a single line under the heading The World : Fragile peace as Russia calls the shots . [ http://www.smh.com.au/news/ world/fragile-peace-as-russia- calls-the-shots/2008/08/13/ 1218307007011.html ] At least half way down the Melbourne Age site they had Russian convoy drives fresh fears of war as the main headline in the World section
Which footy mad Victorians?
Proof this morning that people are footy mad down in Victoria but not quite the way you might expect. It will surprise few that the most read story on the Melbourne Herald Sun webzite this morning was about football. What should raise some eyebrows at AFL heaquarters is that it is that roundball game that people have been reading about. Fabiano pressure Thompson and Allsopp for striker position [ http://www.news.com.au/ heraldsun/story/0,21985, 24176428-2883,00.html ] was what the readers wanted to know about and there was not an AFL story in sight.
© Richard Farmer 2008