ICAC: THE SHOW GOES ON!
In a move that has caught the opposition parties off guard, the NSW Government has, in a secret deal, sold the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to Channel Ten.
The deal was announced at a slick, made for television, press conference. Defending the move, a Government spokesperson denied this was an attempt to hobble what many Labor sympathisers regard as a "kangaroo court".
"We are committed to maintaining ICAC, however, as Media Watch has proved time and time again, television can play a large part in crime prevention," said Bob Carr. "Our partnership with Channel Ten will ensure the openness of future ICAC hearings".
The Government refused to reveal how much they sold ICAC for, although it is rumoured to be a better deal than the one that saw Fox Studios grab the Sydney Show Grounds for an old show tune.
The Government also confirmed that under the terms of the deal, Judge Judy is to be the new Commissioner of ICAC.
Irene Moss will be Deputy Commissioner and retain her role as Ombudsman.
Judge Judy, is no stranger to Australia. Her show, Judge Judy, in which she unfurls yards of homespun justice with all the coarseness of Rosanne, is already popular on Channel Ten.
Judge Judy, author of the bestseller Bigotry is only skin deep, Dumb is forever is clearly excited about her new Australian role, and surprised at the interest her show has generated in Australia.
"If anything this will give ICAC the teeth it has lacked as it becomes not only a crime fighter, but a crime preventer. People know the reputation of Judge Judy and are unlikely to he happy defending their actions before her. She speaks her mind, and much of what she has to say is what many Australians would say if they had the chance. It is part of her appeal," said a Channel Ten spokesperson.
Judge Judy, with her old fashioned commonsense approach, designed to appeal to the Oprah class, has a lot of fans in Australia.
Cynical critics have dubbed her the thinking person's Pauline Hanson, who has done to the legal system, what One Nation did to politics.
Channel Ten has been toying with the idea of creating an Australian version of the Judge Judy show. However they had to shelve their plans when it became obvious Australians were not prepared to air their petty squabbles on national television.
ICAC on the other hand is a different story. Channel Ten will not have to look for people willing to appear on the show. There is more than enough material to capture public imagination as elected halfwits defend their actions only to get lashed by the acerbic Judge Judy.
It has the potential to be better the Australia's Funniest Home Videos. Channel 10 is quietly confident it will prove more enduring then Hey Hey It's Saturday.
The Opposition is appalled. Kerry Chikarovski has labeled the move "a blatant attempt to destroy the integrity of the ICAC."
"I don't care how popular Judge Judy is," she snapped, "we don't need more Americans running this place. I will fight this move with the last drop of my support."
"For goodness sake, I know I am conservative, but this woman wants to give drug addicts dirty needles so they die quicker".
Democrat Senators dismissed the scheme as a political ploy designed to appeal to leftover One Nation supporters.
ICAC will be filmed before a live audience. The format will be very similar to the present Judge Judy show. It is a successful, proven formula that Channel Ten has no intention of tampering with.
Channel Ten is also planning to increase public awareness of ICAC. They will launch a web site myicac.com.au to expose what is going on and generate public feedback. People will be able to use the myicac.com.au web site to "blow the whistle".
The Government sees this as an ideal situation. The success of ICAC depends on public exposure to shame those concerned. The thought of appearing before Judge Judy should be more than enough to deter even the worst bureaucratic offenders.
All cases would be televised and public support encouraged. The show would be pre-recorded and edited for television. Detailed transcripts will be available on myicac.com.au.
Everyone appearing before the Commission will be compelled to give evidence. Judge Judy will use her trademarked simplistic, commonsense, formula to decide if evidence can be used against them in further proceedings.
Judge Judy will not be moving to Australia. She will pass her judgment via a video link with her American studio.
Using state-of-the-art equipment, at the Sydney Fox Studios, footage will be edited to appear as if the action is all happening on the same set.
"It is hardly a complicated piece of action drama requiring complex staging," said a Channel Ten producer. "It will be easier than televising a rugby match, and much cheaper too".