A trial started in Adelaide this week that should have the attention of political apparatchiks throughout the nation and from both sides of politics. Facing the court is a former ministerial adviser to the South Australian government and as details of the case unfold there are sure to be many Mr Fixits who think that “there but for the grace of God go I”.
Randall Ashbourne, 51, has pleaded not guilty to improperly using the influence of his position “to bring benefit to former state Labor backbencher and deputy leader Ralph Clarke” between 1 April and 21 November 2002. The allegation is that Mr Ashbourne offered Mr Clarke a seat on a government board if he agreed to drop a defamation suit he had brought against Attorney General Michael Atkinson.
With the trial just under way, this is not the time for commenting on the use by politicians of all stripes of jobs for the boys. Suffice it to say that the Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson should take particular notice of the potential consequences of trying to buy off an opponent with a cushy government job.