TUMBY BAY - When mounting evidence suggests that a government is corrupt and they fail to adequately address the evidence, what can be done about it?
The short answer, of course, is not to vote for them. But if they are electorally secure and their term of government has some time to run, well, other options are severely limited.
We currently have a situation in Australia where a clearly corrupt government minister has resigned and another is being investigated for using forged documents and being a party to illegal clearing of native grasslands.
In the first instance, the government accepted the minister’s resignation on a minor matter rather than on the substantive issue of corrupt and high level electoral pork barrelling using taxpayer funds.
To achieve this outcome the government used the dubious expedient of engaging a senior public servant aligned to itself to carry out the investigation.
In the second instance the minister is being investigated by the federal police but, we learned yesterday, will not be charged.
One would hope that the opposition, at least in the first case, would take the matter to court seeking to nullify the results of the elections in electorates where the pork barrelling occurred.
This is unlikely, however, because the opposition has a similar record of pork barrelling. Nowhere near as blatant and arrogant as this recent episode but nevertheless on the record.
In Papua New Guinea there is a relatively new government that espouses an anti-corruption platform but continues to allow members and ministers with very dubious records to sit on its side of the house.
Some of those individuals are currently being investigated but whether they will be expelled by the government if they are found guilty is not clear.
A lot will depend upon how the numbers stack up when the investigations are over.
The most probable scenario is that the investigations and any subsequent charges will be tied up in the courts well beyond the current electoral cycle.
Papua New Guinea is well supplied with lawyers who are adept at these sorts of tactics.
What is unfortunately apparent is that these old mates, Australia and Papua New Guinea, now have very similar problems with their governments.
As far as the public in both places is concerned neither of their governments are trustworthy.
Both countries are currently like rudderless ships in an increasingly hostile sea that abounds with many hidden and dangerous reefs.
Of the two countries, it is ironic that the one where the most effort is being concentrated on turning the ship around is PNG. It is the child that now seems to be teaching the parent how to act properly.
Getting our respective countries back on course is a fond hope but in the meantime what is left in both of them is a largely despondent population that views politicians, and the future they are creating, with increasing anxiety.
While both governments are preoccupied with patching up the dry rot and salt damp of their rickety internal structures, the big issues like climate change are being ignored.
So too are domestic issues like social equity.
At best, what is happening is fake government applying the liberal use of Band-Aids and other patches and painting over it with lavish applications of spin and empty rhetoric [tok gris].
As Hanrahan* famously said, “We’ll all be rooned before the year is out”.
Hanrahan may well be right.
* ‘Said Hanrahan’ is a poem written in 1919 by the Australian bush poet John O'Brien, the pen name of Roman Catholic priest Patrick Joseph Hartigan