John Lawler, chief executive of the Australian Crime Commission, is a seasoned cop who is well acquainted with the political system and how it works.
He read the pre-Christmas 2012 reports that Treasurer Wayne Swan proposed to inflict sweeping cuts across government departments and all agencies.
He did what you would expect him to do. He fast-tracked a sensational, headline-grabbing report with the aim of winning public support for the ACC and firewalling its budget.
It declared that illegal drugs were rife in all codes of football and all other competitive sporting disciplines. Its other revelation was that organised crime had its tentacles in Australia’s sport world.
The report caused instant headlines and was still on the media radar one month later.
The report was the cue for Justice Minister Jason Clare to stake his claim as Labor’s “next big thing”. In Canberra they say that you should avoid getting caught between Clare and a TV camera. The cameras love his film star good looks and, in return, he loves the cameras.
The story broke with such prominence that it ended the torrent of anti-Gillard stories in the Murdoch press (thank you, Mr Lawler).
It was so huge that Ms Gillard, who was a visit to New Zealand at the time, started offering her opinion on what became known as “the blackest day in Australian sport”.
In the process of this PR stunt, the good name of all sport was trashed and the reputation of sportsmen and sportsmen was made questionable, as was the thousands of sports officials across the country.
All in a good cause? Only if you think that saving the budget of the ACC from the Treasurer’s knife team is a “good cause”.
Please keep in mind that the ACC is one of the country’s most inept law enforcement agencies. I’m still waiting for it to successfully arrest, prosecute and convict a single senior figure from organised crime, a major drug dealer, a white collar criminal from the banking industry, a significant tax evader or money launderer or anyone involved in forging Australian passports for foreign intelligence agencies.
Not to be outdone by the ACC’s pre-emptive media strike, all the leading lights from the police agencies gathered in Sydney on February 28 to announce the biggest drugs bust of “ice” in Australian history.
They were all there: Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione (never arrested a drug dealer in his career), the Australian Customs Service and the NSW Crime Commission.
It deteriorated into an unseemly struggle for the media limelight by the men in uniform.
The media was supplied with TV footage of giant bags of “ice” being seized by cops in overalls and other “exclusive” shots. The authorised and packaged story led the TV news bulletins throughout the day.
For the law enforcement agencies, it was mission accomplished: another successful media blitz aimed at protecting their budgets from the razor gangs.
STOP PRESS: On Sunday, March 3, Prime Minister Gillard and the ever-photogenic Jason Clare staged a press conference to announced the formation of an “elite” crime-fighting force to combat western Sydney gangs.
In her new role as Inspector Clouseau’s partner she said that the essential target of the $60 million task force was to “follow the money trail” and then capture he bad guys.
The Commonwealth and States have spent billions of dollars in the past quarter of century combatting organised crime. Do you really think that AUSTRAC, the ATO and the banks in the “Four Pillars” don’t know the accounts with hundreds of millions of dollars in them and their overseas transactions?
My conclusion? The law enforcement agencies have done their bit to rescue Ms Gillard from a horrendous run of damaging stories and comment. She is very grateful to them. As a result, their budgets are now secure.
PHONE CRIME STOPPERS TO REPORT ABBOTT’S MEN
Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott’s immigration spokesman, has called for police surveillance of refugees who are allowed to live in the community.
Morrison has been eagerly supported by the other two members of the shadow cabinet’s “Three Stooges” – Christopher Pyne and George Brandis.
They want to treat asylum seekers as if they’re sex crime offenders. And they are calling on Australians to “dob in” a neighbour.
This kind of vicious hate-mongering was part of the reactionary racist sentiment which erupted when mass migration first began at the time of the gold rush.
And do you know what Australians did? They rejected this scapegoating xenophobia and a clear majority welcomed new arrivals, gave them jobs, sold them food and welcomed their children at schools and places of worship.
The disgraceful Morrison is a seasoned offender at this kind of odious dog-whistling. He is an ardent member of Hillsong, the money-machine Christian sect, where this kind of stuff suits the petty bourgeois white bread practitioners.
Their leader is a Kiwi.
In the meantime, I’m launching a campaign in neighbourhoods across Australia calling on people to phone Immigration, the Police, ASIO and community affairs if they find any Abbott Liberals living in their neighbourhood spreading fear and division.