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Email sent 10/10/07
Shredder-gate isn't necessarily 'much ado about nothing'
Recent Australian articles have seemed determined to downplay Queensland's Shredder-gate / Heiner affair. For example, it has been variously suggested that:
Unfortunately such assertions seem simplistic and misleading, because:
It has also been implied that the only motivation for anyone to still pursue this affair would be a desire for political advantage by perhaps entangling Mr Rudd, the present Opposition leader who had a central role in the Goss administration in 1990 (eg Thomas, op cit).
However, while hopes for political gain undoubtedly motivate some interest, it may well not be the most important consideration. Reasons for this become more obvious on consideration of the context in which Shredder-gate arose.
In my earlier email I commented on, and generally endorsed, the suggestion of an Australian editorial (19/9/07) that the Heiner affair represented a 'cockup' by the Goss administration. Moreover, I suggested that:
However, there is a broader picture that needs to be be considered.
The Goss administration's main agenda was reform of Queensland's whole system of government, as a result of evidence of corruption and defective political institutions exposed by the Fitzgerald inquiry in the late 1980s. But that 'reform' process was neither effective nor 'straight' - and those facts had a potential relationship with Shredder-gate in 1990.
Firstly, the highly centralized / politicised machinery of government that was created simply couldn't work properly either then or now, as a result of the ignorance / inexperience / incompetence of the autocrats given administrative control under the Goss administration (see Queensland's Worst Government). As noted above, 'cockups' and abuses of power to cover these up were by no means unknown.
Secondly, there seemed to be areas of corruption in Queensland that the Fitzgerald inquiry couldn't get around to dealing with. Moreover persons involved in those 'other' areas (along with other established interests) were motivated and perhaps able to gain influential roles in some 'reform' institutions to turn the 'reform' process in directions favourable to themselves. Suggestions about some of those 'other' corrupt areas (eg a significant illegal drug industry; a paedophile network linked to institutions dealing with children; and corrupt members of the judiciary) are outlined in Reform of Queensland Institutions - or a Rising Tide of Public Hypocrisy?
The latter document refers to various indicators that in important ways the Goss Government's 'reform' process was not 'straight'. For example:
The possible link between organised corruption in Queensland and the Shredder-gate / Heiner affair was highlighted in an email I recently received. An observer repudiated my view that the Heiner affair started as a 'cockup' which required a cover-up, and referred to allegations of organised sexual abuse of children at the John Oxley Centre by persons on both sides of politics. If this was actually what had been happening, it would perhaps have been known to the Centre management and led to alarm in some quarters about what might have been alleged to Mr. Heiner in his investigation of the Centre's management.
While I know nothing about the reality of organised high-level paedophilic activity in Queensland, I can state with some certainty that:
For these reasons I submit that it is unwise for The Australian to act as the leading advocate for the view that Shredder-gate is 'much ado about nothing'. It may be, but it isn't necessarily, so.