NSW: there’s got to be something good about the place
29 November 2011
Jesus wept, it’s almost Christmas again, I thought as I sat outside the Brushtail Café nursing a cider. The rain was over, sunlight flooded into the lane, and a brisk nor-easter buffeted my tail.
It felt good to be a possum and alive, except for that nagging certainty at the back of the brain that we are teetering on the brink of many disasters. The decades of private excess, cheap credit and the looting of the public realm are at an end and the whole post World War II boom is grinding relentlessly into reverse.
There will be many casualties in this grim process. Since the elections NSW has mainstream politicians nobody has ever heard of – apart from Premier O’Farrell and Gladys Berejiklian – and a tiny handful on the opposition benches the ALP wishes they, and the public, could forget. The old Carr-era politicians are sliding gracelessly into the recycle bin of history.
One of these is former roads minister and treasurer Eric ‘Rooz’ Roozendaal, who has come to notice recently over a small matter of a black Honda CRV he acquired in 2007 when the House of Carr still had three and a half years to run. It seems that Moses Obeid, son of former minister Eddie Obeid – and himself no stranger to the courts, having recently been found to have ripped off the City Of Sydney to the tune of eight million – told the car dealer “We are going to get a car for Eric”, or so the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Rooz took delivery, but one Rocco Triulcio – you guessed it, a property developer – paid 44 grand for the Honda and registered it to his sister. After a few days Rooz transferred 34 grand to the dealer’s agent who flick-passed the dough to Rocco’s account and registered the car to Rooz’s wife Amanda.
Which all seems complex but it had the happy effect that this odd transaction never appeared on Rooz’s parliamentary pecuniary interest declaration because the car was, after all, for his wife.
And Rooz’s comrade, former energy minister Ian Macdonald, got a mention in an ICAC hearing for his relationship with millionaire property developer Ron Medich and former boxer, Lucky Gattellari, who themselves are up before the courts for the murder of property developer Michael McGurk. The ICAC inquiry heard that Medich arranged a 38-year-old Chinese hooker for Macdonald to thank him for an introduction to a couple of energy bureaucrats at Leichhardt’s Tuscany restaurant.
The bureaucrats seem to have drunk the expensive plonk Medich ordered, honourably decided they should pay the bill, and concluded his tinpot company wasn’t the sort of company they liked to keep. The bureaucrats didn’t get any nookie at all and the hooker thought Macdonald was “very gross and sick” – which is what some of his political colleagues had muttered for years. In the end it was all good publicity for the Four Seasons hotel (where Medich took Tiffany the hooker and Macdonald) and the Tuscany Restaurant, and I pocketed a modest cheque for the investigation.
But all this stuff looks like simple fun among consenting adults compared to another drama quietly unfolding in State Parliament’s Macquarie Room where Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 3 is looking at rail infrastructure project costing in NSW.
In the opinion of this jaded old PI, this overcosting stuff involves the rip-off of billions of dollars of taxpayers money by consultants and a duopoly of construction companies. It was tall men in suits wall-to-wall as Transport for NSW bureaucrats and Evans & Peck consultants fronted the committee to talk their way around the fact that building rail in NSW seems to cost at least four times as much as it would anywhere else on the planet except maybe some benighted jurisdiction in southern Italy where the mafia rules and they don’t build rail anyway.
I was brooding on all these things when Joadja emerged from the café with the dingo.
“Why don’t you walk Jesse down to the park. You need the exercise and he needs to poo”, she said, holding out his lead.
“I know your dad was a dingo, and you reckon your mum was a kelpie, but what color was she?” I asked as we trotted down Sydney Street.
“Ah, mum was a beautiful blond”, said Jesse, coughing in that peculiar way that dingos have.
“Cream kelpies are dingos. You’re just a dingo, aren’t you?”
“ Please don’t ever mention that to the authorities”, he muttered. “I don’t want to be put down or locked up in a cage”.
“Have no fear”, I said. “You’re in NSW, where pet dingos are legal. There’s gotta be something good about the place”.