Pollie Crackers

No doubt the news of the week was the outcome of the same sex marriage survey, a subject which has been covered in great detail elsewhere.

So, I will make only a couple of observations, one slightly relevant and the other hardly at all.

One of the losers of the campaign must be former tennis great, Margaret Court.

Margaret holds strong views which is her right, but she expressed them in a manner which offended many people, including current tennis players, and there is now talk of boycotting the Australian Open which is held at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.

If management is forced to rename the centre, perhaps we could suggest they consider Jan Lehane, our local champion who is a real lady and never beaten as a junior.

The second comment is to note the passing of Malcolm Young who with his brother Angus kicked off a little rock group over 40 years ago called AC/DC.

The group has gone on to become one of the, if not the, greatest rock groups ever. (Coincidently their older brother George kicked off another successful Aussie band, the Easybeats). The connection?

Well, back in those early days the term AC/DC was considered risqué as an expression for those who had two bob each way sexually. Change is slow, isn’t it?

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One of the Feather Duster’s regular hobby horses is the need for a federal anti-corruption body such as the NSW ICAC. Earlier this year, an open letter calling for a “federal independent anti-corruption regulator” was signed by 40 prominent Australians, including Geoff Gallop (former premier WA), Nicholas Cowdery (former DPP NSW), Ged Kearney (president ACTU) and a number of judges, barristers and academic heads.

One can only presume they have seen a need.

Now, another four prominent retired judges from various jurisdictions have come out calling for just such a body.

The pollies don’t want it and they’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming, but at least the pressure is building and maybe we’ll get them there eventually.

In the meantime, the NSW ICAC has released its 2016/17 Annual Report describing inter alia how its operational grant was cut by $800,000 by the NSW government which just happened to have a surplus of $5.7M that year.

Of course, no-one would dare think this was because of ICAC’s successful investigation into how some Liberal Party candidates had illegally handled political donations: that would be payback.

The government has already changed the ICAC Act to “redefine” (ie: restrict) its area of operations, and caused the very diligent and courageous Commissioner Megan Latham to resign by forcing her to reapply for her job on new unacceptable terms.

A cynical person might see all this as a concerted effort by the state government to “manage” ICAC despite their strident denials and pollie-speak about improved efficiency and effectiveness.

This body has proven so valuable to NSW residents in rooting out corruption on both sides of politics (as well as the public service) and it is up to us to stay alert to the manoeuvrings of the pollies as they seek to emasculate it by stealth.

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Former Transport Minister Duncan Gay often stated that he wanted to re-open a rail line in NSW during his ministerial term, and it looked like he had.

Just before he lost the ministry (following Mike Baird’s sudden departure) he announced a $5 million grant for the rail line between Demondrille (Harden) and Young.

The five local councils had been campaigning for years for the re-opening of the Blayney-Cowra-Grenfell–Young-Demondrille line so the announcement was a little bitter-sweet: yes, the re-opening would be good but it was only part of what was needed and wanted.

The search is on now for the money. It seems to have disappeared into the sunset with Duncan.

Some good news has come from the Lachlan Regional Transport Committee, chaired by Chairman Mo (aka Feather Duster No 2). Mo reports that there is renewed interest in the uncompleted Maldon-Dombarton rail link (near Picton) as part of transport upgrades to service the new Sydney airport at Badgery’s Creek.

This missing link is important to our area as it would greatly improve access to Port Kembla, thereby making our rail line and freight more profitable.

The LRTC has been striving to re-open the Blayney-Demondrille rail line for over 20 years and remains the strongest voice in the region. Good luck to them all.

T Lobb – 

Feather Duster No 3