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The Forum > Article Comments > Windsor turns the spotlight on petty, party politics > Comments

Windsor turns the spotlight on petty, party politics : Comments

By Betsy Fysh, published 26/11/2004

Betsy Fysh argues that Tony Windsor has exposed a lack of political integrity.

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Betsy - John Anderson was NOT "cleared" by the Australian Federal Police of "misconduct" in the Windsor allegations. News Ltd's "Australian" newspaper made the same headline claim and they are equally wrong. In our system of law it is not for the police to decide who is guilty and who is not guilty; that is a role reserved for the judiciary. Only a court of law can "clear" someone of such allegations (assuming charges are laid).

Electoral bribery is not just misconduct, it is a very serious offence with substantial penalties under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (see section 326), including the voiding of the election at issue (see section 362), but it is hard to prove, as you say later in your essay (one person's word against another).

However, the decision by the AFP, on the basis of advice from Damien Bugg, Director of Public Prosecutions, to drop the investigation of the Windsor allegations, on the basis of inadequate evidence to date, is a matter of serious concern to many observers, especially given the inexplicable pauses and delays in the AFP investigation during and after the election period, and the failure by the AFP to interview either Anderson or McDonald before Maguire had a chance to issue his denial.

As other commentators, such as Margo Kingston in her Webdiary, Alan Ramsay of the SMH and Jack Waterford of the Canberra Times have noted, there is something very fishy about all of this, and the pending Senate Inquiry will be worth watching, despite the fact that the Government will refuse to cooperate.

As you have rightly indicated in your essay, electoral bribery is all pervasive but mostly subterranean in our electoral politics; the elephant in the room that the mainstream media consistently ignores or downplays or trivialises, concentrating instead on chasing up frivolous and entertaining "news" for the nightly bulletin.

We deserve better.
Posted by grace pettigrew, Sunday, 12 December 2004 5:20:52 PM
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