NEWS COMMENTARY BY: Howard Sattler
Pauline Hanson could do a lot worse than to invite suspended Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi to join her WA One Nation team for the next federal election contest.
The fanatical campaigns by both major parties, Labor and Liberal, to discredit her and her supporters on council, is positive proof they rate her as a threat should she stand for their opponents in any future polls.
This week the Labor State government comment did what it had threatened, removed the council and flagged its intention to suspend its elected representatives and to instal three commissioners to administer the organisation bs investigate allegations against it.
Did the Liberal-led Opposition object to the imminent sacking of the council and especially Lord Mayor Scaffidi?
Of course not!
Having led the scurrilous campaign to discredit her and her supporters the groundwork to remove them had already been laid when there was a change of government to Labor last March.
Pauline Hanson, more than any other politician in the Australian landscape, can empathise with Mrs Scaffidi.
Her successful grassroots appeal to supporters of both major parties landed Hanson in a prison cell after the
Liberals, led by John Howard’s chief head kicker at the time, Tony Abbott, trumped up charges against her.
As a tribute to her intestinal fortitude Ms Hanson emerged, leading a revamped movement…remoulded it into a professional outfit with whom the government has been forced to negotiate if it wants its legislation to become law.
That the council, led by Lord Mayor Scaffidi, was the victim of an unseemly Labor Liberal pincer attack was exemplified by the bumbling, stumbling announcement of its suspension by Local government minister Templeman and the reaction of his Liberal opponent Tony Krsticevic.
Neither…if you watched their news conferences… appeared to have a clue what the three commissioners are investigating.
Is it corruption, or bullying, sexual misconduct…there’s been no evidence that any of these activities has taken place.
Her detractors will point to the findings against the Lord Mayor for accepting the hospitality of BHP and the Hawaiian Group at the Beijing Olympics, the Broome Cup and a Leeuwin Concert.
Ratepayers should be thankful she accepted the invitations.
Otherwise she would have been entitled to attend and to charge them for the privilege.
Of the 650 BHP invitees who accepted the offer of flights, accommodation and tickets to the Olympics, only Mrs Scaffidi has been investigated.
OK… she failed to officially declare it…but hardly kept it a secret.
For those who opposed her acceptance of BHP’s largesse what was the alternative … chartering her own jet and pitching a tent in the middle of Tiannamen Square or looking for the local YWCA after she arrived in the Chinese capital.
Anyone who has visited the Lord Mayor’s office in Council House can see where any actual gifts she has received have ended up….in display cases and clearly the property of he council.
If the commissioners are looking for corruption in Mrs Scaffidi’s office there is nothing to see there.
What they will discover is a dedicated individual who has done more than any of her predecessors to promote the City of Perth to the world.
While those from the two major political parties may be rejoicing that they have seen her off they should be careful for what they have wished.
Just as Pauline Hanson has bounced back as one of the Liberals’ worst nightmares, our charismatic Lord Mayor has the opportunity to return the favour to the major parties here.