For Once, I'd Like To Be Wrong


Sommething is rotten in the state of NSW, is the headline of the article in today's SMH. I'll say. The culture of corruption, smugness and slackness in Rail Corp is now starting to affect the rest of the NSW public service.

Those public servants are only indicative of the real problem - emulating their political masters. A letter writer in Saturday's SMH described the Iemma government as the worst political administration ever visited upon an Australian electorate. It's hard to disagree.

So far, for most of us watching carrcrash Iemma government is a source of irritation, and fodder for stand-up comedians. But re-watching The Day of the Roses, the mini series based on the Granville rail disaster, last week, the whole thing seemed like less of a joke.

At Granville, a packed morning peak hour train derailed and hit the supports of an overhead bridge, causing it to collapse on the train beneath. 83 people died. The causes of the disaster? Smugness, slackness, muddle by and cost-cutting viewed as a higher priority than safety. Watching the re-enactment of the inquest, I was left with a sense, not that "this could happen again", but amazement that a disaster of such magnitude hasn't happened already. What, after all, would stop it? Why would the government be such a disaster in other areas, but doing a great job on rail safety?

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On a lighter note now - Lord knows we need one - last week John Howard held a
farewell dinner (nine months after leaving office) for all his "true believers" in Western Sydney. Guests paid $100 a pop to dine, reminisce and hear a speach from their defeated hero. They also received a show bag - containing a tea towel, a John Howard DVD, two energy-saver light bulbs, three Ferrero Rocher chocolates, a mini-bottle of Bundaberg Rum, and a copy of Gourmet Traveller's January 2006 issue.

Who on Earth selected this stuff? What was the rationale behind it? I'd love to know. So much of the Howard era made me feel the need to take drugs, and I think I'd need some to understand this. In a funny way I've missed that feeling.

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