Liberal Senator Helen Kroger’s case against Greens Leader Brown and his colleague for corruptly and cynically promoting the financial interests of a massive political donor is much stronger and more problematic for him than widely realised.
In a devastating case against Brown that will be considered by the Senate’s Privileges Committee and could potentially lead to the imprisonment of Greens senators involved in what was a blatant promotion of multi-millionaire Graeme Wood’s property development scheme.
It’s a matter of public record that Graeme Wood gave Bob Brown’s party $1.6 million, the largest ever political donation in Australia’s history.
The most damning tell-tale sign of wrongdoing and advancing the rich man’s interests was in the changed position the Greens’ had on the question of compensation for Gunns, the logging company the maddies love to hate. Initially Brown opposed it. But when it became clear that Wood’s deal was dependent on Gunn’s being satisfied by compensation, the Greens, led by Brown, reversed their position.
Bob Brown’s defence of his backdoor dealings with Woods could have been scripted by Sir Joh’s crew in the 1980s:
Knowing the man, I contacted him and said I thought (Wood’s property development) was a good idea, of course I did and of course one should if you believe in promoting Tasmania…
The internal disciplining of MPs by their own for corruption of the parliamentary privilege is provided for in the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987.
In the absence of a federal anti-corruption commission, the process Senator Kroger has initiated is the closest thing to a legal process that could bring Bob Brown and corrupt colleagues to justice. Her submission to the Privileges Committee is detailed, with appendices, constitutes many dozens of pages and has been meticulously prepared.
The Senate – under the Privileges Act – could vote to imprison any of those involved found guilty of a breach of parliamentary privilege by entering into a corrupt arrangement that influenced their behaviour as Senators in return for cash for a period of up to 6 months or impose fines.
But the serious matters of which Brown and colleagues are accused are not complicated. They are as old and sleazy as politics itself.
Corrupt politicians know they need money to gain power. They then use their power to gain money. That’s exactly what Bob Brown has done here and those interested in the good governance of Australia will welcome the Privileges Committee’s examination of the precise nature of the tawdry dealings in which Bob Brown has involved himself.
The Greens party’s representatives have misused their position to brazenly benefit a donor, their biggest ever, indeed nation’s biggest political donor, changing the position on issues, as it suited Wood’s commercial interests.
The House of Reps has imprisoned people before. The power of our parliaments to conduct inquiries and take decision action against corruption is there. And it should be used. Anyone reading the damning indictment of Bob Brown set out by the industrious Helen Kroger could scarcely reach any other conclusion.
Indeed, when the Senate President John Hogg responded to Senator Kroger’s letter on the scandal, he responded that she had raised “very serious” matters.
The Australian’s Christian Kerr, whose work on the Greens party has been enough to nearly restore his good name after emerging from the reputational abyss that is Crikey, a left-wing email newsletter that was purchased for $1M a few years ago but now struggles to break even, reports that Brown’s internal nemesis, the vile and reviled NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon has been intriguing against Brown over the donations issue.
He reveals claims from inside the troubled far-left party that Rhiannon has been “white-anting” Brown over this issue. Kerr writes:
“Angry Greens believe Senator Rhiannon set out to embarrass her leader over the privileges reference with a string of media releases and press conferences over donations and a notice of motion on lobbyists as the Senate vote loomed and in its aftermath.”
Nice. Rhiannon’s training at the Lenin School was not wasted. He continues:
Eyebrows were raised earlier this year when Senator Rhiannon was linked to a report in The Australian on the Wood allegations when they were first raised in the Senate on her anti-donations Democracy4$ale website.