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Always Tell The Truth Son

By Bruce Notley-Smith on March 17, 2015 in Other

Photo: Eddie Obeid

Photo: Eddie Obeid

Even after twenty years together, my partner Paul can still recall the words I spoke and commitments I made to him from the earliest time in our relationship. Paul has a sharp memory and the cross-examination skills of the finest senior counsel, skills honed on me should my memory of events differ to his.

Unfortunately I am not afforded the right to remain silent, but for my own sake I usually do. So it was a good move for our relationship and my political career that many years ago I listened to the advice of my granddad: “Always tell the truth son, that way you never have to remember what you’ve told people.”

It’s said that ‘truth is the first casualty of war’ and the same holds true for politics. You can be sure that the truth is going to take a beating in the lead-up to the NSW Election on March 28.

Already a campaign of misinformation has commenced here in Coogee. My opponent has been phoning local electors with grim tales of pestilence, famine and war should they re-elect me. Sodom and Gomorrah haven’t been mentioned yet, but it is still early in the campaign.

Electors across the state should be readying themselves for the deluge of candidates’ brochures. As is to be expected, the claims made in one candidate’s brochure will undoubtedly contradict those of their opponents, so how the hell can you make an informed decision on who to vote for?

Electors need to forensically examine the candidate’s record, which requires a bit more than a quick read of the glossy brochures. Hansard, for those who don’t know and probably care even less, is the transcript of every word that was said in parliament. It sounds as exciting as reading your Visa card terms and conditions, but Hansard can reveal some real insights.

The NSW Parliament website has a terrific search engine for Hansard, so you’ll easily find what you’re after. Look for how many times your current MP (and any former MPs seeking a comeback) spoke in parliament, on what topics, and how what they said then measures-up against what they are saying now. What they didn’t say is also very telling.

Every word your local member ever uttered on TV, radio or in the papers is tucked away somewhere on the Internet. You may even find some of their brochures from elections past.

And if your local MP was a minister in a former government, better still, as you are guaranteed to find some absolute gems. Look for donors and mates with no qualifications who are given lucrative board appointments, and seek out contracts they signed that they now distance themselves from.

Political donations are always a joy to research too, especially when you go back a few years and your MP was a councillor. You need to match-up a donor and a development, and see if the councillor did the right thing and declared a conflict of interest, and abstained from voting on the development. Bingo! You can find donation disclosures on the NSW Electoral Funding Authority website, but perseverance is required.

So hop to it – there’s hours of family fun to be had, and there isn’t long to go.