Political Fraud --- A Growing Crime
It's official. A new study by the Australian Institute of Criminology has shown what all Australians have already worked out --- political fraud is a lucrative industry, ahead of illegal guns and drug dealing.
Political fraud is also the most under-reported crime in Australia. Politicians and their advisors are too embarrassed to talk about it. They are more concerned about losing money and what little public support they have, then cleaning up their act and reporting the crimes to the relevant authorities.
Director of the institute, Dr Adam Graycar, estimated political fraud was costing Australia $5 billion to $8 billion every year.
"It is difficult for politicians to speak up against others suspected of being involved in activities that they themselves are standing knee-deep in. If they are well established, there are too many incentives encouraging them to turn a blind eye," he said.
Political fraud is so lucrative, police believe it has been targeted by organised crime. In an ironic twist, bikie gang members have been using a simple branch stacking scam in order to infiltrate the Labor party, with the hope of eventually getting some of their members elected to parliament.
Although no bikie gang members wished to be interviewed, a spokeswheel for the Rebels motorcycle gang did not deny the allegations. "We read the papers," he said. "We understand turf wars, we can beat people up, we could sort out these faction problems in no time".
According to Dr Graycar, and others in politics, politicians dupe voters with all sorts of false promises and clichés in order to get their support. Then it's just a matter of collecting frequent liar points which can be cashed in for favourable press coverage from the media.
There are no statistics available on political fraud. This is due to the hidden nature of the hidden nature of the crime. Dr Graycar is hoping a December conference in Sydney called Political Crime: Protecting Politics, Protecting Politicians, Protecting Parliament will shed more light on the subject.
The conference will bring together political dealers, media, lobbyists, and vocal minority groups and any one else keen to try and make a fast buck in the political market.
Political fraud has been termed "need, speed, greed" on the part of cashed-up, electoral entrepreneurs. They know little about politics but decide to take up some or other cause in exchange for financial gain, parliamentary privilege, a fantastic superannuation scheme and the ability to give themselves pay increases without enterprise bargaining or productivity gains.
They are prepared to spend big to ensure a safe seat in exchange for defending the doctrine of one of the major political parties, regardless of whether or not they believe it. Many even flagrantly switch alliances or resign without completing their term. They end up developing very strong morals they hide behind, using them to justify their inability to do the right thing.
Political fraud is a lot bigger than political theft. The market is very small and trying to pass off opposition policy as your own is far too difficult. It is far easier to quietly use a position of public trust to further individual financial gain, safe in the knowledge that parliament protects its own.
The problem is perpetuated by politicians who cannot string two sentences together saying one thing on talkback radio, then embarrassed by the public outcry issue further statements that set out to clarify the issue by clouding the waters. Serious discussion is put on the back-burner so as not to alarm the electorate which gets a dose of political journalism that leaves even the most cynical observer with the impression that no one knows what is going on.
This political fraud is more obvious at election time when politicians of all persuasion try to sell the electorate a bunch of policies in an attempt to claim a mandate to do something completely different. Most people only realise the have been hoodwinked once a government has been elected.
Unfortunately, this fraud extends way beyond the political arena. Politicians leave politics and enter the private sector where they use their political connections to ensure they maintain an effective degree of influence. The true colours of any politician are only revealed when they leave the political arena and are forced to spend their retirement flying the standards of their masters, the media barons, as they fan the feudal fires of the media wars
Bikie gang members, who have cottoned on to this, are keen to clean up their act and improve their public image. One gang has hired a public relations team and lined up a television deal.
The ABC, keen to cash in on the success of South Park and The Simpsons, is filming a new children's series. Bandidos in Pajamas will go to air early next year.