Raising the BARR – Week ending 15 June 2018

Raising the Barr

Our Police, a new Station and recent successes

People, understandably, get really frustrated about the petty politics.  I have seen plenty of it over the past 7 years and I have seen a reasonable share of it in the past 7 days following the announcement about a new Police Station.

Can I say this, our collective political treatment of police and other emergency services needs to be above the day to day politic.  Hence, the announcement for a new Police Station at Cessnock shouldn’t come as a surprise.  It was the right thing to do.  The current Police Minister had previously worked at Cessnock Police Station back in 1994-1996 and he knew better than most the conditions of that Station.

There are many now claiming the announcement as a result of their own personal good work.  Congratulations to all of them – I wish I had met you along the way.  But from where I sit it has been a collective and sustained effort including police, community, Council and politicians.

In recent months, the community will be pleased to know that we have had several major police operations to tackle unregistered and stolen motorbikes.  The police have used a massive amount of information that had been fed into police by the community.  Every motorbike starts and finishes a journey somewhere, and these various “somewheres” are what the police really need to know.

So my huge congratulations to the police and the community for making all of this possible.  And no, we won’t ever have streets free of the unregistered motorbikes, but I am sure that there are many who have been enjoying more peaceful nights recently.  And we should continue the information flow to police, so that we can edge ever closer to peace and tranquillity in our streets.

When secrecy is the new norm

During my 7 years in Parliament, I have been witness to an incredible level of secrecy and refusal to hand over Government documents.  As one visiting politician from the US commented to me recently “you Aussies might think American politics is crazy, but across all parties, we would never allow these documents to be kept secret”.  It was a sobering comment.

I am repeatedly bashing my head against a brick wall in search of documents and business cases, for the sale of public assets and spending of public money, that I have started to accept secrecy as the norm.  No, it shouldn’t be, and it frustrates me to no end, but the Government has refused-refused-refused to hand over documents, or make public documents on so many occasions.

This led to an incredible scene in Parliament 2 weeks ago.  The NSW Upper House had demanded presentation of certain documents related to the Stadiums splurge, the Powerhouse Museum and child safety.  The Government refused.  Their senior Minister in the Upper House was going to be suspended for 35 days and quite frankly the people of NSW would have been entitled to think the worst, in relation to what was in the documents, if the Government continued to refuse.  Literally, at the last minute, the Government agreed but said that it would take several days to get the information together (nonsense!).

This is the tip of the iceberg in the secret state of NSW.  It is my view that we have an approach to transparency that is more like the regimes of China and North Korea, than other more genuine democracies.  Secrecy is a choice of the conscience.