Tuesday 2nd of September 2014

black ops .....

black ops .....

What a pack of clowns they are. What a bunch of jumped-up nongs they must have been. The Liberal Party back-room apparatchiks now parading before the Independent Commission Against Corruption are revealed, at last, in all their infantile stupidity.

"Yay black ops !" cries Tim Koelma, a pudgy Young Liberal and staffer to the soon-to-be-disgraced former state minister Chris Hartcher. He is emailing his brother, Eric, about a scheme to wreck the career of former Sydney Water chief executive Dr Kerry Schott.

"Black ops" are also a fantasy for another of these Hartcher twerps, Aaron Henry, whose idea of a wizard jape was to skulk about at night with a ladder, slashing the election posters of political opponents.

"It's a light-hearted thing in order to help keep Young Liberals engaged," he assured the ICAC.

ment Counsel assisting, Geoffrey Watson, SC, found this hard to believe and no wonder. Zap blam, politics as an Xbox game.

But beneath all the hilarity, there was some seriously nasty stuff afoot. The conspiracy to destroy Schott was as vile as it gets.

In a nutshell, her great sin was to stand between the infamous Eddie Obeid & Co and a big bag of money, hundreds of millions of dollars. As the head of Sydney Water from 2008 to 2011, she was battling to stop the Obeids and their cronies getting their paws on lucrative contracts for their shonky shell company, Australian Water Holdings.

Bizarre schemes were hatched to besmirch her. Lies were concocted to bring her down. According to evidence before the ICAC, the lawyer and businessman Nick Di Girolamo, donor of that notorious bottle of '59 Grange to Barry O'Farrell, was one of the conspirators. The Liberal Party bagman and lobbyist Paul Nicolaou was allegedly another. The ICAC heard that he had fired off an email to Alan Jones asking him to savage her on his radio show.

Curious, I made some inquiries about Schott. She turns out to be an extraordinary woman. The doctorate is in pure mathematics from Oxford. An economist by trade, she has been a merchant banker, working in her early years for Malcolm Turnbull and later as the local boss of Deutsche Bank. She was a visiting professor at Oxford and Princeton, a senior NSW Treasury official, chairwoman of the Environmental Protection Authority, an adviser to the Reserve Bank and a trade practices commissioner. Now in semi-retirement, she is on the boards of Macquarie University and the National Broadband Network.

Turnbull sang her praises when I spoke to him this week. "She's outstanding," he said. "A woman of enormous integrity and great ability. You may quote me on that."

And that assessment cuts across party lines. Michael Egan, former Labor state treasurer and now chancellor of Macquarie University, gave her a similar big rap. So, too, did Bob Carr. The current Premier, Mike Baird, appointed her to audit the books when the Coalition came to power in 2011.

This, then, is the measure of the distinguished public servant that this gang of tiny minds was seeking to ruin. It is incredible that they thought they could get away with it.

Why they were never going to destroy Kerry Schott