‘Reflexively woke’ Franklin’s Labor roots

by PAUL COLLITS – AMERICAN intellectual, statesman and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin never got to be President. His Macquarie Street namesake, no intellectual and certainly no statesman, has. Today. President of the NSW Legislative Council. 

I had thought that propriety in government was to be top-of-mind for the NSW Lower House independents, including one Alex Greenwich. 

Ben Franklin is reflexively woke. An absolute mark of the modern National Party. In a single act of bastardry he has delivered NSW Labor unbridled power.

It was on this basis, they said, that they offered to provide minority support for the new government of Chris Minns. I wonder what those same independents think of Minns’ latest trick – to offer the lucrative Presidency of the NSW Upper House to one Ben Franklin, a National (and close friend of Minns, as it happens).

In doing so the Coalition’s numbers reduce by one vote, so giving the Labor Party a working majority in that House and enabling it to pass legislation without checks nor balances.


You see, it is an offence in NSW to offer someone the political bribe of public office for political gain.

One hardly knows where to start.

First, there is the Manchurian candidate, Ben Franklin. We thought he was a National! But no, he turns out to be a closet Labor supporter.

In a single act of bastardry – “treachery”, the Liberal leader, Mark Speakman, called it – he has delivered the new government unbridled power.

Mr Speakman said there had been agreement across the Coalition that no one in either Party would run for president.

“If he takes the presidency, takes the money, takes the perks, takes the trappings, instead of serving the voters who put him there, it is an act of treachery to those voters,” he said.


The sliver of influence that the election granted to all those who didn’t vote for the Lib-Lab UniParty, via the balance of power in the Legislative Council, has now gone.

It is not as if Benjamin Franklin the Second didn’t owe his Party – the Party that now, rightly, disowns him – since the Nats allowed him to seek a Lower House seat (Ballina, in 2019) and then, when he lost to the Greens, they gave him his Upper House seat back through the casual vacancy process.

They filled the vacancy caused by his resignation by installing … him! So, there was no cost to him over his Lower House adventure.

How does he pay them back, four years later? By handing Labor supreme power. Labor, who scored just over a third of the primary vote, and barely 30 per cent in the Legislative Council. This was Franklin’s thirty pieces of silver. Or in today’s currency, $315k per year, plus other baubles.

Ben Franklin’s web page states: “Ben’s a passionate advocate for regional communities and is focused on being a strong voice for the people of Northern NSW in parliament.”

Well, not any more, he isn’t. He is simply an advocate for himself and for Chris Minns. He will not be allowed to advocate for anything, since he has no vote as President.

Was there any hint of treachery in Franklin’s maiden speech in 2015?

Well, he began as follows: “I do so noting that we are meeting today on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people. I acknowledge them as custodians and traditional owners of this land and I extend my respect to their elders, past and present.”


No surprises there. He is reflexively woke, then. An absolute mark of the modern National Party.

“I stand here as a passionate advocate for representative democracy,” Franklin continued.

Really? Except where there is a plum job to be bought and sold.

“My political journey has been a particularly complex one. After a very fleeting membership of the Sydney University Labor Club and over a decade spent in the NSW Liberal Party.”

So, a gadfly without much loyalty to any one Party. Complex? He gets around, politically. Let us leave it at that.

“We value decency, loyalty and integrity…”

Yes, he actually said that. He then referred to his “friend”, Chris Minns. (This was in 2015).

“Chris you will go a long, long way in this place and I am delighted that we were able to enter Parliament at the same time.”

Well, he got that right. And now Minns will go much further, thanks to him.

He also made mention of: “…my great friend Matt Kean.”

Oh dear. So much for Ben Franklin, clearly bored and bereft at the thought of many tedious years in opposition.

Next, we have Chris Minns, the freshly minted NSW Premier. He has been (correctly) banging on about the sleazy Liberal National Government for years.

Almost as if to reassure New South Welshmen that we sill inhabit a third rate, low rent polity ruled by chancers, his first act is to offer a job-bribe to a mate to get himself an Upper House majority. Good work, Chris. No chance of cleaning up the sleaze on your watch.


As reported by Sky News: “Mr Minns acknowledged Mr Franklin being appointed president could make it easier for Labor to pass legislation. “I’m being upfront about that.”

Well, bully for you, Mr Minns. The sheer gall of the man is breathtaking.

This sorry saga reminds us, as if we needed reminding, that you can do just about anything in politics now, admit it, and get away with it, such is the woeful-bordering-on-non-existent level of scrutiny and accountability we have now reached.

They got away with (literally) murder with COVID. A little bit of minor corruption won’t be a problem.

Minns’ deputy (Prue Car) is also in the news. She called the decision by the Nationals’ State Chairman, Andrew Fraser to refer this all to ICAC a “hissy fit” and a waste of ICAC’s time.

She had no such qualms, I am sure, about seeing Gladys or John Barilaro forced to front ICAC a year or so ago over similar sleaze. There is more than a whiff of the Nick Greiner-Terry Metherell saga in the 1990s about this, Ms Car.

This is precisely what we have ICAC for. To root out political inducements involving public office.

In 1992, the then Premier, Nick Greiner, offered a former Liberal minister and then Independent MP, Terry Metherell, a senior public service job in order to trigger a by-election in the hope of winning a Lower House majority.

Greiner was forced to resign by a clutch of Independents, who perhaps had more scruples in those days than they do today. When they demanded probity in government, they actually meant it. Such has been the decline in governance standards in one short generation.

Then we have the leader – sorry, former leader – of the Nats, Paul Toole, privately telling Ben Franklin to “go for it” and that it would not be a problem in nominating for the Upper House presidency job, then publicly chastising him for his act of betrayal.


Toole has been dumped as leader, only to be replaced by someone else no one has ever heard of. To lead a Party of almost total irrelevance to their own voters and to the conservative cause they once were proud to serve.

Once upon a time, a Nationals leader (John McEwen) had the power to stop someone from the Liberals (Billy McMahon) from becoming prime minister (in 1967). His threat was to walk out of the Coalition. Now, the leader of the Nats can’t even summon the wherewithal to stop one of his own members from deserting the cause.

These days, the Brokeback Nats are now utterly subservient to the gay-euthanasia-abortion lobby led by Alex Greenwich, in no small measure as a result of the efforts of one Ben Franklin, when he was the Party’s State Director.

Frankling was also one of the key WorldPride ministers in the NSW Government just before the election.

The Nationals’ only other purpose is to “get stuff” for the regions. What we used to call “pork barrelling”, and what some Nats still do.

Well, with the Party’s chance to influence Upper House votes now in the toilet, there won’t be any Nats-led pork barrelling going on for quite some time.

Perhaps the Nats might use the time to reflect on their decline into woke irrelevance, as they gaze upon the regal presence of President Franklin in the big red chair.

Benjamin Franklin the First once said: “He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.”

And in another setting, he claimed: “He that lies down with dogs, shall rise up with fleas.”

I think the first Ben Franklin might have been onto something. It is little wonder that around a third of the electorate now routinely cannot bring itself to vote for either major Party.PC

Paul Collits

MAIN PHOTOGRAPH:  Ben Franklin. (courtesy The Australian)

1 thought on “‘Reflexively woke’ Franklin’s Labor roots

  1. In accepting this post Franklin has not only betrayed his National Party, but also the Liberal Party, having been elected on the joint ticket Liberals campaigned for. The betrayal is beyond compare. Every Liberal Party branch member and friend of the Party working to save the furniture at the March election has been betrayed by Franklin. The faintest of silver linings (that the LC was finely balanced and would thereby serve to temper the Green/ALP agenda) has been snuffed out by Franklin.

    The betrayal is all the more striking given Franklin’s history as a National Party State Director (with a SD charged with the duty of winning office over and above everything else). However, given Franklin has surrendered all honour, a unique opportunity now presents for him. With no honour left to lose, Franklin need not maintain the folly of “not sitting in the Party room, or joint Party room” in an attempt to portray impartiality. Franklin is the only nominee the ALP would endorse. That fact was tested when the Liberals nominated every ALP MLC only to see them all decline the nomination. As President, he is the creation of the ALP. There is no obligation on him to be impartial. It’s not as if being so would preserve honour. Instead, Franklin can reveal a calculating and impressive political mind (if he has one) by discounting the need for impartiality. Franklin has the power to exclude government members from the chamber and he should use this power with impunity. If ALP cry foul, they do well to remember he is a monster of their making. Should the ALP vote to replace him, then Franklin will have commenced his climb back from the cesspit.


Comments are closed.