The guardian made me aware of an interesting twist in Australian politics (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/12/singleton-funds-sporting-candidates-election). The information as presented yesterday evening is that the overly wealthy John Singleton will be ‘bankrolling’ (perhaps sponsoring should have been a better word) two sportsmen Nathan Bracken (Cricket) and Lawrie McKinna (Coach of the Central Coast Mariners). Let’s take a look at the two.
To be honest, supporting Lawrie McKinna makes sense from the fact (even though I have no personal knowledge of the man), that he currently is the Mayor of Gosford, which for my non-Australian readers is a Town to the north of Sydney between Sydney and Newcastle. So, he has experience in the political field being the mayor and as a coach the man knows how to deal with a bunch of ruffians, which pretty much makes him ready to become the next Australian PM. Nathan Bracken is another story. He does not seem to have any real experience; however, that in itself is not an issue. As this is an election year in Australia, we see all kinds of people coming out of the woodwork, with the odd politician not having the ability to identify any issues he stands for. The latter part was quite the giggle for the Australian Facebook community. So there is no way that Nathan Bracken would do any worse and we all have to start at some place and some time. John Singleton will be sponsoring these two new contenders for the Independent party.
How bad is this idea?
John stated that he is fed up with the central coast being ignored. He was quoted in the guardian article stating “someone has to keep the bastards honest” and when we consider politicians on a scale slightly larger than just Australia, there is a genuine support for that statement.
The issue does remain if there is not more in play. Singleton has massive interests in the Central coast, which are after all his own stomping grounds. Real Estate, resorts and a race horse operation. So we are talking an investment value that is running deep into the 8 figures. In a business mind having 2 politicians on your side is good business, which is why I as the devil’s advocate am wondering whether there is not more in play.
To be honest, he is not hiding his involvement (like that was ever an option), yet there will forever be a little shiver in my spine when politicians are knowingly funded by a ‘party of one’ and to whisk such that feeling can never be good. Singleton might have stated “It can do no harm and it can only do good”, but that is one part I feel, which is too often never the case.
Still, we have had several remarkable exceptions. Dick Smith for one, who has put his money where his mouth is, donated tons of money on all kind of good causes, whilst not cashing in on it in the past. Singleton too has been involved in charity events from the early 90’s. Australians are for the most, not that greed driven like we see all over Europe and America. These people made their fortunes long before 2004 and they survived the financial crash without a too much of a hitch. They have more than enough money and they likely realised that they can’t take it with them where they are going to go in the end (a lesson the greedy never learn).
Still, there is a dangerous precedence here. I am all for people getting into politics, especially if they are bright enough and when their past (sports, movies) give visibility to causes and goals the people really need. The issue I have is when one sponsor becomes deeply involved, even when the person involved does do this openly, it keeps me worried.
The article does however seem to speak true on some issues. The Central coast seems to be ignored too often, not unlike Sydney it has youth unemployment. Not unlike the NHS, they have their healthcare issues, which seems to affect all of Australia and the youth suicide numbers are rising all over the place, which includes the Central Coast. So the fact that Singleton wants this dealt with on his stomping grounds is fair enough, yet no matter how fair it is, I remain to some degree sceptical for the simple reason that in the majority it is too naive to believe that large political donors will not expect certain favours, a view that is held by a lot more people than just silly old me.