Holding Australia to Ransom: The Colston Affair, 1996-2003 (Malcolm Arthur Colston) - Queensland Review

Holding Australia to Ransom: The Colston Affair, 1996-2003 (Malcolm Arthur Colston)

By Queensland Review

  • Release Date - Published: 2010-02-01
  • Book Genre: History
  • Author: Queensland Review
Our rating: 5/5 stars

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Holding Australia to Ransom: The Colston Affair, 1996-2003 (Malcolm Arthur Colston) Queensland Review read online review & book description:

Probably no one who has entered either federal or state Parliament in Australia departed from it as loathed and despised as Malcolm Arthur Colston. A Labor senator from Queensland between 1975 and 1996, he is remembered by that party as a 'rat' who betrayed it for the sake of personal advancement. Whereas many Labor parliamentarians--most notably Prime Minister 'Billy' Hughes in 1917 have left the party because they strongly disagreed with it over a major policy issue or a matter of principle, in the winter of 1996 Colston unashamedly left it to secure the deputy presidency of the Senate and the status, income and several other perquisites that went with it. (1) Labor's bitterness towards Colston stems not merely from the fact that he showed extraordinary ingratitude towards a party that had allowed him a parliamentary career (2) but more especially because, between his defection from the party in August 1996 and his retirement from Parliament in June 1999, his vote allowed the Liberal-National Party government led by John Howard to pass legislation through the Senate that might otherwise have been rejected. While Labor remembers Colston as a 'rat', (3) the public recollects him as a 'rorter'. Indeed, his name is almost synonymous with the misuse of the many travel privileges to which federal parliamentarians are entitled. (4) Although it was not widely known at the time, between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, Colston not only exploited his position to travel the world and Australia as much as he could (5) but also put in false claims in order to gain financially from the many trips he took. Moreover, over the same period he abused his position to further the interests of his immediate family, inter alia by dubious appointments to his staff, granting unnecessary overtime payments and questionable use of the parliamentary legislative research service. (6) During the last seven years of his inglorious life (1997-2003), the public was never allowed to forget that the man who had so blatantly betrayed the party that had pre-selected him on several occasions had also for many years been 'ripping off' the many taxpayers who, as members of the electorate, had several times returned him to the federal Parliament.

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