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On Friday the 1st of October, Premier Gladys Berejiklian resigned after announcing she was being investigated by the NSW Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC). Against this backdrop #WeAreHughes held our online panel event for BIG DEAL, is our democracy for sale? We were thrilled to host the event with guest our panellists, director Craig Reucassel , presenter Christian Van Vuuren and independent member for Warringah Zali Steggall. We had 250 people register for our event. 100 were from Hughes, the rest were representing 46 electorates across the country. Those that registered were invited to watch the documentary in advance of the panel event. One aspects of democracy the documentary deals with is donors and political advertising. Hughes' federal member Craig Kelly when announcing his move to be leader of UAP spoke of his desire to have his message amplified. His quote from a Sydney Morning Herald article exemplifies what is wrong with a system that gives a greater voice to those with money and power.

From the SMH article by Jennifer Duke, August 23

“I have been screaming this stuff from the rooftops for a long time. It’s very hard to get this message through,” Mr Kelly said.

“We have a huge war chest, we can run television commercials, ads, we can finance a proper campaign that no other minor party or independent can,” he said. Mr Kelly said his advertisements would be considered party political advertisements and in his view blocking them would be a breach of the constitution.

Registration Survey questions We asked questions of attendees when registering - the answers to those questions were collated and summarised by Eleanor who then went on to conduct the audience Q and A.

The movie deals directly with donations and influence over politicians. As a population are we part of the same problem? Are we rewarding the very system we bemoan? We discuss this in the video below.

After our event Deputy Leader of NSW John Barilaro also resigned.

By-elections are not cheap; we pay for them in more ways than one. As pointed out in our BIG DEAL event , politicians use donations to pay for their advertising. Political advertising is free of the regulations that businesses are made to adhere to. You can read more about the bill Zali Steggall is introducing to stop the lies in political advertising here

There are few people that are advocating for a state of anarchy where there is no ruling authority or controlling bodies. We mostly understand that we rely on systems to keep us in check. Even if we believe ourselves to be beyond reproach, we do not consider for one moment we all are. Most of us willingly submit to rules that apply to all of us. This includes rules and restrictions during Covid. We may not love it, but we appreciate the greater good that we are all contributing to.

In NSW We have an independent Commission Against Corruption, federally we do not.

By their own definition this is what the NSW ICAC does

“𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗺𝗶𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗔𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗿𝘂𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 (𝗜𝗖𝗔𝗖) 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗶𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝟭𝟵𝟴𝟴 𝗮𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗶𝘀𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗰𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗰 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁, 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗯𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗰 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗴𝘂𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗱𝘂𝗰𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗽𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗰 𝗼𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗦𝗪 𝗽𝘂𝗯𝗹𝗶𝗰 𝘀𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿.”

A federal ICAC would put to rest or at the very least test the allegations of rorting in our federal political landscape. However, despite promising an ICAC by the federal government, they have not delivered one. Not only have they not delivered an ICAC they have not even budgeted for one. ICAC and action on climate change were glaring omissions from the last federal budget. ****************************

Opinions and considerations on whether the Premier was personable or well liked is not the question here.

The questions that need to be asked are:

Q. Should our politicians be beyond reproach?

Q. Do politicians need to be held to account?

Q. Should there an independent body to ensure there is a system to hold politicians to account? The only reasonable answer to all those questions is yes.

*************************** She’ll be right!

At the end of the event invited people to turn on their camera and answer two questions on a piece of paper. We then showed our answers on the screen with the theme music “she’ll be right” as the backdrop.

Enjoy the result!

Enjoy the BIG DEAL panel event - the movie will be available to watch on iview Follow this link for more information BIG DEAL on the ABC

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