Gordon Nuttall, convicted yesterday on charges of corruption, thankfully is not your normal Australian politician. Most of the ones I have met and dealt with over 50 years of my working life are good and honourable and honest people. Most of them. For there have been a few about whom I had my suspicions that there was a backhander here and a brown paper bag there. And then there are those not personally known to me who ended up in the slammer when caught copping a bribe to shorten someone’s prison sentence or helping a property developer do a bit of developing. But not until this morning had I come across a corrupt politician who could not see that the corrupt behaviour was wrong.
Gordon Nuttall is the exception. During his last few days of freedom before being found guilty, the former Queensland State Labor Minister has been talking with the journalists Andrew Fraser and Michael McKenna. The story he told them has produced a great piece of journalism about a man who regretted taking $360,000 in secret payments from a couple of businessmen only in the sense that he got caught. “In hindsight, of course, I regret it because of the pain and agony it has caused to my family and friends,” Nuttall told The Australian. “I didn’t do anything wrong, that’s my honest belief, because all I was doing was trying to set up a family plan for the future.”