Tony Fitzgerald has played a prominent role in Queensland politics over the past two decades since he conducted his exhaustive inquiry into corruption in the late 1980s. His reformist efforts deserve the unstinting thanks of Queenslanders but, like almost all public figures, there is a tendency to come to believe the rhetoric uttered about oneself. That certainly appears to be the case with comments made by Fitzgerald this week.
Launching a biography of former Liberal Party leader, Terry White, who achieved prominence for disavowing the coalition agreement with the Nationals in 1983, Fitzgerald indulged himself. Relishing a new cameo in the public spotlight, Fitzy gave it his all with backhanders for both the Labor Party and the Liberal National Party.
One allegation was that: “Queensland is no longer the isolated deep north, but it is now in the mainstream of political malpractice.” Take that, Anna Bligh. Regrettably, Fitzy offered not one jot of evidence to support his claim which must be seen as scurrilous since it besmirches everybody in politics – across the spectrum and at all levels. Nice one, Fitzy!
Then he turned his blowtorch onto the LNP stating: “Although both include decent people, the two parties, Liberal and National, are now united in an implausible hybrid of convenience, which the National Party continues to dominate.” Take that, you filthy conservatives. Gee, Fitzy, were the stomach ulcers playing-up, mate? Time for a bit of antacid, old son.
Again, the assertion is scurrilous since there is no evidence to support the contention. The Liberals were hardly dragged kicking and screaming into a merger with the Nats. The rank and file gave strong endorsement to the merger and the entire process was conducted with scrupulous adherence to democratic principles. Nor is there any apparent dissension across the party with management of the organisation. Funny that a Liberal happens to be the parliamentary leader given the numerical superiority of former Nats. But don’t let facts stand in the way of a good headline and photo op, Fitzy.
The sad aspect of this self-besmirching by Fitzgerald is that, as a lawyer, he should know better. His pronouncements during his corruption inquiry were based on evidence. And while no-one would suggest Queensland’s government, parliamentary and political practice could not be improved, unsubstantiated assertions do not provide any basis for reform. As nobody better than Fitzy should know. Attention Deficit Syndrome appears to have claimed another victim.