Corruption galore 5

By September 23, 2020Australian Politics

Here we go again. In early March of 2020, I posted a list of instances of corruption by coalition governments, mostly from the federal government, but some from the state governments1. Not long after that was posted, it was necessary to begin another compilation as the instances of corruption continued piling up. That second effort was published at the end of April, 20202. Only a couple of days after that was posted, more instances were pointed out to me, so another compilation was begun. That third compilation was published on the first day of July, 20203, and two days later another instance was pointed out to me. So, off I went again, compiling more instances of corruption mostly from what is clearly the most corrupt federal government in living memory. That fourth compilation was published near the end of July, 20204. However, the despicable behaviour of the coalition governments, both state and federal, did not cease. As a consequence, this fifth compilation of their corruption became necessary. As I have said before, I’ll continue this compilation of travesties despite the presence of the much more sophisticated QED campaign launched by Michael West5, with the aim of instigating the formation of a proper federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). I can recommend QED, for we must have a federal ICAC to protect us from the sort of venal spiv who nowadays seems to be attracted to a political career.

Taxpayers footed the bill for family members of Coalition former MPs Luke Simpkins and Natasha Griggs to fly to the idyllic Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean for a weekend stay. Department of Finance records reportedly show Ms Griggs’ husband Paul flew from Darwin to Cocos via Perth and Christmas Island at a cost of $4385. Simpkins’ wife Kelly and two daughters travelled from Perth via Christmas Island for $5100. Air fares for the family members to Cocos appear to have been funded under “family reunion” provisions of the parliamentary entitlements system. Questions were raised about the appropriateness of using the family reunion provisions because travel records suggest Mr Simpkins and Ms Griggs both spent the previous week in their electorates6.

Liberal backbencher Fraser Ellis, the South Australian MP for the Yorke Peninsula electorate of Narungga, claimed taxpayer-funded travel allowance for a night when he was photographed at an evening event just 10 minutes from his home – but declared he was staying in the city. Under parliamentary rules, country MPs can claim up to $234 per night if they live more than 75km from the Adelaide GPO and need to stay in the city to attend parliament or undertake other work duties7.

In May, the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission awarded a $42,000 contract to Commtract Communication Services Pty Ltd, which connects freelance communication, marketing, creative and digital experts with contract jobs. Commtract is required to provide “creative, design and editorial services” and “general support services in communicating the Australian government’s priorities and policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic”. Commtract’s CEO is Luke Achterstraat, a former adviser to then tourism minister Richard Colbeck, now the aged care minister, and to former trade minister Andrew Robb. The firm was founded by Peter McConnell, who was previously chief of staff to the former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell8.

A small Liberal-linked communications firm was given multiple contracts without tender by the office of the Australian small business ombudsman, Kate Carnell, a former Liberal chief minister of the ACT. The company, Agenda C, has been awarded three contracts with the ombudsman’s office for social media-related work since it was established early last year.

The ombudsman’s office said it did not use a tender process to award the contracts – worth $79,840, 79,922 and $31,989 – because they each fell below the procurement threshold of $80,000, where tenders would be required. Agenda C is led by former Liberal party advisers and candidates. Its managing campaign director, Carrington Brigham worked as party of the federal Liberal Party’s, digital strategy team on Tony Abbott’s election campaign in 20139.

As a new Liberal senator for Western Australia, Linda Reynolds claimed $1,268 on the public purse in May 2015 so she could fly return to Brisbane from Canberra for an Australian Medical Association’s national conference entitled ‘Medicare: mid-life crisis?’ followed by a cocktail party event. Her husband Robert Reid was the AMA’s director of communications, a role he had held since 2011. Just two months later, in July 2015, Senator Reynolds charged taxpayers another $4,242 to travel 2,200 km return from her electorate office in Perth to Broome. Her visit coincided with the town’s weekend races, but a spokeswoman said she was there to attend a National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee ball. The weekend package included $1,576 in return flights for her and another $1,576 for her husband10.

Despite the Attorney General Christian Porter being required by law to table his use of National Security Information (NSI) orders (concerning criminal proceedings) to Federal Parliament each year, he has failed to do so ever since he was appointed to the role in 2017. This is despite his enthusiasm for the legal sledgehammer he discovered when he took on the job. NSI orders confer on the Attorney General some of the most extreme powers imaginable in a justice system. Under the orders, evidence used in a prosecution can be withheld not just from the public but also from the accused, the defence team and witnesses for the defence. This power allows Porter to conceal whatever he wishes, and the NSI orders are being issued not to target terrorists or extremists but to silence whistleblowers, to burden their defence and to stop the reporting of cases that might embarrass the government11.

Former South Australian senator Cory Bernardi charged taxpayers for a $2,500 trip to Sydney to attend a major fundraiser for his Australian Conservatives party in 2017. He flew into Sydney on the afternoon of Friday October 27, 2017. Comcar records, released through freedom of information, show he arrived at his hotel about 2pm before taking another Comcar to the fundraiser about two hours later, joining about 120 supporters for a riverside dinner at Parramatta Wharf. The records show he also used a Comcar to leave the fundraiser and return to his hotel about 10pm that night. Bernardi stayed in Sydney for the weekend, flying out on Sunday 29 October. He declined to answer questions about the trip when contacted but tried to insinuate that he had parliamentary business12.

Since June 2020, federal MP Dave Sharma has purchased shares in CSL (formerly Commonwealth Serum Laboratories before privatisation). This is the company Prime Minister Scott Morrison has (behind closed doors) tipped to manufacture the coronavirus vaccine which is under development by Oxford University. The announcement of a non-existent agreement with AstraZeneca, who are collaborating with the university, was made by Morrison on August 19th, 202013,14.

At some time in February-March 2020, Dave Sharma purchased Qantas shares at plunging market lows, where the price dropped from just over $6 to just over $2. In the middle of March, the government announced a $715 million bailout package. After that announcement, the price of Qantas shares rose to about $415,16.

Senator Andrew Bragg, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, received a gift of a television from the principal of Churchill Advisory Pty Ltd, Sam Fay, on December 19, 2019. Churchill Advisory is a registered state and federal lobbyist and has a number of financial and technology clients. One of these clients is Raiz Investments and this company was one of the first invited to appear before the Committee. Of course, Dave Sharma bought Raiz shares17.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar used his taxpayer-funded electorate office budget to pay one of his close friends, graphic designer Matt Pham, between 2016 and 2018. At the time, Pham worked in full-time roles for a real estate advertising company during the same period that Sukkar has said Pham worked “as a casual Electorate Officer in the Deakin Electorate Office”. Pham was tasked with designing Sukkar’s political smear files and materials to solicit party donations. That is a breach of parliamentary rules18.

Update: A federal inquiry has stopped investigating the offices of two senior Liberal MPs without hearing from staff about whether they engaged in party political work at taxpayer expense. The inquiry into the offices of Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar and former defence minister Kevin Andrews ended on Tuesday after concluding there was no sufficient basis for finding there had been misuse of federal resources. But key staff were not called to give statements to the Department of Finance inquiry, while some who wanted to give evidence were never told how to get in touch with the independent reviewer looking into the matter39.

The idea of building a massive dam at Urannah Creek, northwest of Mackay, has been championed by speculators, business groups and rural politicians. It has been studied and discarded more than a dozen times. The latest iteration– a $2.9bn plan for a 1.5 trillion litre dam, pipelines, irrigation and pumped hydroelectricity – has had the vocal support of prominent National and Liberal National Party figures such as George Christensen, Barnaby Joyce and the state opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, whose husband works for the group. Since the 2019 election, the federal government has given $12m from separate grants towards planning for what would be one of Queensland’s biggest dams. In its announcements, it said the beneficiaries of those grants would be a regional business association and a Brisbane-based renewables firm. But in both cases – via non-transparent funding and subcontracting arrangements – the money ultimately flowed to a separate firm, run by prominent Queensland Liberal National Party figures and donors19.

In partially refusing a Freedom of Information request about a controversial $10 million taxpayer-funded grant to Fox Sports, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher‘s chief of staff Ryan Bloxsom said the disclosure “could reasonably be expected to have a detrimental effect on the working relationship between the minister’s office and the Prime Minister’s office, now and into the future”. In addition, the letter outlining that specific decision found the public interest was to “withhold the exempt material” rather than release it. The grant was intended to boost broadcast coverage of under-represented sports. The money, in addition to an earlier $30 million, pays the sports channel to broadcast sports under-represented on television. Fox Sports is only available by subscription, meaning taxpayers must pay to watch the sports they are paying to broadcast20.

The federal government has handed Woodside Energy $8.8 million on a limited-tender basis to advise it on decommissioning one of its own abandoned oil production vessels. Minister for Resources Keith Pitt said that the oil company — which sold the vessel in 2016 to a shelf company that has since collapsed — would be providing advice on what would be needed to decommission the facility, which is now threatening to spew oil into the ocean north of Darwin21.

ServeGate Australia, a company founded and run by a close friend of the prime minister, Scott Morrison, has received more than $43 million in government contracts since 2015, while being a registered charity helping Indigenous businesses with advice. The company’s nominated charitable purposes are to increase Aboriginal employment and reduce welfare dependency. It became a registered charity in February 2019, and therefore exempt from income tax and GST. Shortly before that, two Indigenous businessmen became shareholders, which means the company qualifies for preferential treatment under government procurement policies that set targets for contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses and mandate preferential treatment for small contracts and those in remote areas22.

An ASX-listed marketing group with extensive links to the NSW Liberal Party was awarded millions of dollars in contracts by state-run workers’ compensation insurer icare without all being put to an open tender. Icare, overseen by NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, has spent more than $18.3 million since 2015 with IVE Group, an ASX-listed marketing firm run by former NSW Liberal Party president Geoff Selig. But in an apparent breach of state laws, the NSW government’s e-tender site only discloses contracts worth just over $10 million awarded by icare to the company. Between 2014 and 2019, IVE Group donated almost $100,000 to the NSW Liberal Party. It also donated $55,500 to the federal Liberal Party in 201823.

The day before the 2019 federal election, Scott Morrison’s Government gave more than $15 million to Wesfarmers, one of its biggest political donors, from funding set aside to alleviate grinding Aboriginal poverty. Just three months earlier, Wesfarmers announced a record half-yearly profit of $4.5 billion. The grant came from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), the government’s main Aboriginal affairs funding pool. Just one month after the contract was approved, an Australian National Audit Office report revealed the IAS had no effective framework in place to evaluate any outcomes, despite expending more than $5 billion over five years. The grant was classified as “Closed – Non-Competitive”, meaning other corporations could not bid for the money. The deal was approved on May 17, one day before the federal election24,25.

A major NSW property developer, former Newcastle mayor Jeff McCloy, sent his concerns about the Koala State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to Deputy Premier, John Barilaro‘s electorate office. Planning Minister Rob Stokes was sent McCloy’s letter from Barilaro’s office on September 8. This was the only stakeholder correspondence received from Barilaro about the policy which is aimed at preserving koala habitat. It was McCloy who once told the Independent Commission Against Corruption he felt like a “walking ATM” for politicians26.

The South Australian Government has awarded a $2.14 billion contract to run the city’s train network for the next eight years, to a joint venture between the NZ-founded Downer Group and French transport company Keolis. Freedom of Information documents revealed an e-mail sent by the Downer Group to Premier Steven Marshall’s Government included fake quotes attributed to both himself and Labor MP Stephen Mullighan. The Downer Group’s former manager of government partnerships, Sasha Grebe, wrote “these might be helpful”, before detailing a series of fabricated quotes attributed to Mr Koutsantonis and Mr Mullighan when they were frontbenchers in 2014. The e-mail was sent on July 2, 2019, one day after the Government announced plans to privatise the running of Adelaide’s passenger rail network, despite promises by Marshall ahead of the 2018 election win, that he did not have a privatisation agenda27.

The disgraced former New South Wales MP Daryl Maguire is being investigated by the state’s anti-corruption body, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over an alleged cash-for-influence scandal that forced his resignation from state parliament. The former member for Wagga Wagga resigned from the NSW parliament in 2018 after a separate ICAC inquiry heard, from recorded phone conversations, he sought payment to help broker deals for some property developers. ICAC is investigating allegations that, from 2012 to August 2018, Maguire engaged in a breach of public trust by using his public office as a member of the NSW Parliament, and the use of parliamentary resources, to improperly gain a benefit for himself and entities close to him. These entities included G8wayinternational/G8wayinternational Pty Ltd and associated persons28-30.

Update: Daryl Maguire would have earned more than $690,000 for helping to “grease the wheels” in a lucrative sale of land near the Western Sydney airport, a corruption inquiry has heard. Telephone intercepts also reveal that Maguire encouraged a property investor, William Luong, to attend a Liberal fundraiser featuring the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, despite Luong’s concerns that he was classified as a property developer and was not allowed to attend38.

Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert was a guest speaker at the Pentecostal church’s Hillsong Conference Nights event in Sydney, in July 2015. He delivered a ‘Pillars of Influence Masterclass’ lecture on how ‘innovative individuals’ are ‘influencing their pillar with the message of Jesus’. The then assistant defence minister claimed the travel entitlements ($2,326 for Mr Robert’s travel and accommodation, and $672 for his wife) for the event, claiming it was ‘official business’ even though it had nothing to do with his portfolio31.

Scott Morrison has announced that the government will build a gas-fired power plant at Kurri Kurri on the site of the former aluminium smelter, if the energy sector doesn’t replace the capacity lost with the closure of Liddell Power Station. The site of the aluminium smelter was acquired earlier in 2020 by developers Jeff McCloy and John Stevens. The gas would be supplied via the yet-to-be-completed Queensland to Hunter Valley gas pipeline. That project, whose shareholders include developer Hilton Grugeon, will transport gas from the Wallumbilla gas hub near Roma in Queensland and Narrabri to Newcastle. In 2016, the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption found that, among others, Grugeon and McCloy acted with the intention of evading election funding laws relating to the disclosure of political donations to the Liberal Party, the ban on donations from property developers, and caps on political donations32-35.

The federal government handed over $29 million to Tony and Ron Perich’s billion dollar Leppington Pastoral Company in 2018 for land next to Western Sydney Airport at Badgery’s Creek, only for the Commonwealth to value the 12 hectares at just $3 million less than a year later. The Auditor-General released a damning report into the Paul Fletcher’s federal Department of Infrastructure’s purchase of the Perichs’ land in 2018, parts of which “fell short of ethical standards”. The Commonwealth ended up paying 22 times more per hectare than the NSW government shelled out for another 1.36-hectare slice of the Perichs’ dairy farming property at Bringelly for a road. Leppington Pastoral Company is also a donor to the Liberal party, contributing $58,800 in donations in 2018-201936-37.

Sources

  1. http://www.blotreport.com/2020/03/08/corruption-galore/
  2. http://www.blotreport.com/2020/04/30/corruption-galore-2/
  3. http://www.blotreport.com/2020/07/01/corruption-galore-3/
  4. http://www.blotreport.com/2020/07/28/corruption-galore-4/
  5. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/the-case-for-a-federal-icac/
  6. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/idyllic-cocos-islands-nice-spot-for-a-family-reunion/
  7. https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/liberal-mp-fraser-ellis-claimed-country-members-travel-allowance-on-the-night-he-attended-a-dinner-function-10-minutes-from-home/news-story/e186527e7e455a73aed51c0aa69a0da9
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/02/covid-19-commission-grants-communications-contract-to-firm-headed-by-ex-liberal-staffers?CMP=share_btn_tw
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/aug/07/small-business-ombudsman-awards-contracts-to-liberal-linked-firm-without-tender?CMP=share_btn_tw
  10. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7994303/Defence-Minister-Linda-Reynolds-charged-taxpayers-attend-mid-life-crisis-conference-husband.html?ito=amp_twitter_share-top
  11. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/christian-porter-nsi-orders/
  12. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/2500-bill-for-cory-bernardis-trip-to-fundraiser/
  13. https://twitter.com/RonniSalt/status/1296971473974779905
  14. http://www.blotreport.com/2020/08/20/prime-minister-for-announcements/
  15. https://twitter.com/RonniSalt/status/1296985727499042817
  16. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/australian-airlines-qantas-virgin-bailout-rescue-package-taxpayer-2020-3
  17. https://twitter.com/jommy_tee/status/1296585111018725376
  18. https://www.theage.com.au/national/sukkar-uses-taxpayer-budget-to-employ-friend-who-also-designed-smear-sheets-20200824-p55osu.html
  19. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/02/urannah-scheme-how-money-for-a-queensland-dam-project-flowed-to-lnp-linked-firm?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
  20. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-04/foxtel-deal-emails-could-harm-ministers-relationship-with-pm/12631028?section=sport
  21. https://www.crikey.com.au/2020/09/03/woodside-oil-clean-up/
  22. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/04/the-unconventional-charity-run-by-scott-morrisons-dear-friend-leigh-coleman?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
  23. https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/icare-awards-18m-in-contracts-to-firm-with-extensive-liberal-party-ties-20200906-p55stz.html
  24. https://newmatilda.com/2019/09/12/exclusive-on-election-eve-pms-office-gave-15m-to-rich-party-donor-from-money-set-aside-to-tackle-black-poverty-2/
  25. https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/evaluating-indigenous-programs
  26. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/property-developer-the-only-stakeholder-to-raise-concerns-about-nsw-koala-policy-20200915-p55vyn.html
  27. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-18/keolis-downer-awarded-contract-to-run-adelaide-trains/12678052
  28. https://www.icac.nsw.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/2020-media-releases/media-alert-public-inquiry-into-allegations-concerning-former-mp-daryl-maguire-starts-monday
  29. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/01/former-nsw-liberal-mp-daryl-maguire-to-face-new-corruption-inquiry
  30. http://www.blotreport.com/2018/07/14/corruption-free-pass/
  31. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6749125/Turn-lights-minister-charged-taxpayers-6-160-attend-Hillsong-mega-church-event.html
  32. http://online.isentialink.com/newcastleherald.com.au/2020/09/15/a0263454-e820-4945-b595-a399fa977a36.html
  33. https://www.cessnockadvertiser.com.au/story/6925746/pms-foot-on-the-gas/
  34. https://nwprotectionadvocacy.com/a-tale-of-two-pipeline-promoters-in-three-parts-the-pipe-dream/
  35. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/icac-nsw-politics-corruption-election-funding-laws-2016-8
  36. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/billionaire-family-s-windfall-gain-tip-of-iceberg-for-land-sales-near-new-airport-20200922-p55xz4.html
  37. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/sep/21/government-paid-10-times-too-much-for-land-at-western-sydney-airport-to-be-used-after-2050
  38. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/oct/01/ex-nsw-mp-stood-to-earn-690000-for-helping-to-grease-the-wheels-in-land-sale-icac-hears
  39. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/inquiry-that-cleared-liberal-mps-did-not-hear-from-key-witnesses-20201014-p5654u.html

12 Comments

  • Yes Minister says:

    If it was only coalition governments that were corrupt, we be in a fairly good position. Unfortunately **ALL** Australian political parties are corrupt to the core. One of the very worst is Queensland’s palachook tribe.which equals the federal SCUMMO circus for shenanigans and skullduggery. This sorry mob is aided by the Crime Cover-up Commission which can never find sufficient evidence to prosecute official criminals despite being handed any amount of evidence on a platter. Virtually every Queensland ALP minister has been implicated in ‘interesting’ events, much the same as almost every minister in the (thankfully) short-lived Noddy Newman LNP rabble..Among other matters, a very senior ALP minister was referred to the Crime Cover-up Commission in respect of alleged misleading parliament. The complaint was accompanied by a truckload of evidence direct from Hansard plus an extract from the Crime and Corruption Act stating that an action, which if proven, would constitute a criminal offence, is automatically corruption. The Criminal Code states clearly that misleading parliament is a criminal offence, there is substantial evidence in Hansard of the alleged action, but as is standard practice with the Crime Cover-up Commission, the conclusion was insufficient evidence to prosecute. Mind you that instance is only one of a catalog of comparable ones affecting politicians of all colours, not just the ALP and LNP> basically a politician in Queensland (and no doubt in any state) is totally immune to censure for EVERYTHING, including criminal offences. Those who bleat too loudly risk being labelled a fixated threat, meaning they can be ‘medicated’ to prevent them embarrassing corrupt politicians or their cohorts.

    • admin says:

      YM,
      I wrote a piece some years ago which stated that all political parties are rotten. They are all beholden to their donors, and many of their donors are after financial favours. That being said, this is the most corrupt government I have ever seen in 40 years of watching politics; even worse than the Bjelke-Petersen regime in Queensland a few decades ago. Because politicians are highly paid and have so many freebies, it attracts the wrong sort of person. That will not change until we get rid of donor money, especially that from corporations, from the political process.

  • Sono andato says:

    Phew. A catalogue of appalling conduct.

    Thank you for your efforts in compiling this update.

    The managing director of Agenda C is Parnell Palme McGuinness, who writes a weekly (usually on a Wednesday) column in the Australian Financial Review of right wing ideological nonsense.

  • Russell says:

    I take it that the majority of wrong-doings described in this blog (i.e. the mind-numbing series on politically related corruption) should normally require legal response. However, there are some qualifying “officially” as misdemeanors, which when shown up, ought to involve real sanctions like suspension of parliamentary privilege. The main one seems to be hotel and plane travel allowances. Too many arrogant, grasping politicians seem to take for granted exaggerating or falsely claiming those, just because they’re in government. What mangey narcissism, emanating even from ministers who couldn’t care less that by rorting entitlements they set a scummy example to other parliamentarians! In other corruption, being a conflict of pecuniary interest not revealed, thus leading to benefit from outside companies, we must get it to legal process much faster than is possible right now. It seems some of the most blatant, costly public felonies ( – shovellinging taxpayer funds into one’s mates’ accounts) relate to very big infrastructure projects. In such cases there’s mostly a deliberate use of very convenient rules of procedure by a minister’s office, enabling crony business contacts to “win” (?) the tender without need to compete against rivals at all. Clearly one issue with establishing guilt of any party on “crony” crimes, is that we need to have a tribunal or commission that is itself TOTALLY, completely free of the taint which it is investigating. It requires an utterly non-partisan set of investigators, and not one trammelled by restrictions on freedom of information. It must not in the least be held back by any parliament’s dictate, otherwise there will naturally be few prosecutions, rendering the whole thing a farce. With Admin’s catalogue of never-ending and deeply entrenched immoral and worrying criminal conduct going on at every level of Australia’s governing, it would be nigh on impossible to set up such a commission with powers mentioned above. The federal government, not forgetting the Opposition that’s clearly also into corrupt practices, knows full well how much its members can benefit from various acts of fraud, lying, obfuscating, undisclosed dealings etc. Logically it can never willingly legislate such a separate institution of oversight. I fear the rot is too deeply ingrained, and remember, every Parliamentarian would have some dirt on at least one or two other members of a given government; an so the conundrum arises, who may dare stand up as a witness concerning crime perpetrated behind closed doors of our own representatives? That is the tragedy of this deplorable situation, the travesty of democracy reduced to snivelling kleptocracy. The citizenry are almost unable to demand reparation from, or imprisonment of, the majority of hound-dog rorting politicians, because they are already in positions of power protected by cunning parliamentary rules and regulations. Look at it this way: when the Mafia is handed the right to govern, the justice system is rendered null, and civilisation ends. Kurtz said in Conrad’s great story of barbarism, “The horror, the horror.” Australia now has a dark heart like that of a devilish beast that tears at, rips up the people’s trust and goodwill. That ignoble, cowardly, selfish, self-serving heart of darkness beats in Canberra. Who will make an end of it?

    • admin says:

      Russell,
      I do not see an easy way out of this criminal enterprise we are witnessing. As you say there would be no doubt that were Labor in government, they would have their snouts firmly in the trough too. If they do get elected they are unlikely to fix a system from which they gain advantage, personal and electoral. The status quo cannot continue as it does not have the wherewithal to prevent such criminal behaviour. Yet, if this criminal behaviour is not stopped, it will continue in perpetuity. As I have said many times, the problem at base is we have a constitution which was written under the misapprehension that politicians would be honourable. That was a very big mistake. It must change or there will be violence.

  • Russell says:

    A question amuses me. Is travel cost cheapskate and Hillsong church crackpot, Stuart Robert, and is Charmer Sharma – with obvious inside knowledge re shares – worried about what their electorates might think when news of their conduct seeps out? It seems not, and while I hate to suggest a reason why, I will. Concerning Queensland, it’s fitting for Robert to reside on the glitzy Gold Coast, long a magnet for business spivs and shifty politicians in thick with them. Voters in Australia’s deep north gulag are now so completely inured to politics as another name for an orgy of personal pocket-filling, they don’t even factor it into their choice of party. They simply know 9 out of 10 candidates are morally rotten. Robert, McCormack, Cormann and large company in both the Federal and state Liberal-National coalition, must in some sick way, regard themselves as committing no wrong with taxpayers’ money. And more tawdry, more abject to see in their characters, many such suspect Liberals proclaim to be Christians “a la Morrison”. But wait! I’m so naive; whoever actually thought Moribundson’s laughable, lame Pentashow sect was concerned with ideals of Humility, Honesty, Compassion, Generosity? Mr P M himself would jeer, “Fair go mate, covering our fetid pollie bums with a sweet Jesus perfume is vital if we’re gonna go on suckering the mugs in voterland.”

    • admin says:

      Russell,
      Yep. Depressing isn’t it. I wrote several pieces on Trump early on in the life of this blog and I found it hard to understand how people could be so supremely gullible. The same is true in the case of Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. When Morrison opens his mouth you can almost guarantee there will be lies, or at best, spin; yet so many people seem to believe what he says. It is almost as if they are blind and deaf. In retrospect, it is unsurprising that so many people were sucked in by the Nigerian scam.

  • Jon says:

    Some of these rorts are small bikkies (albeit with the same arrogant entitled attitude wrt the use of public funds) compared with the mix of utter incompetence and arguably corrupt behaviour involved in the federal government’s purchase of land adjacent to the proposed western Sydney airport. You won’t be shocked when you read the link below – it’s par for the course as far as conservative government mal-administration (robodebt, privatisation of technical education rorting/debt etc etc etc) goes – but you will be appalled at how incompetent the Public service has become under the emasculation policies of successive conservative governments.

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/they-reviewed-themselves-new-investigation-into-33-million-land-deal-20200924-p55yyu.html

    The auditor general’s report is rightly scathing but in the current environment of total lack of Ministerial responsibility it’s little wonder that the same “who cares, it’s not my fault, we can do as we like without fear of being held accountable” mindset has pervaded parts of the Service.

    Not only did the Infrastructure Dept pay the coalition-supporting landowners 10x the value of the property ($30+M) but incredibly they also agreed to lease the land back at much reduced value AND pay another $10M to give the former owners access!!! If the public servants responsible, including the head of the Dept, aren’t invited to resign in the washup you’ll know the demise of PS values is complete.

    Small extract:
    The 2018 purchase of the land next to the Western Sydney Airport, dubbed the Leppington Triangle, came under scrutiny from the auditor-general after the government valued it at just $3 million less than a year after buying it for $29.8 million, plus $3 million GST.

    The land was owned by Liberal Party donors Tony and Ron Perich’s Leppington Pastoral Company. They are now leasing it back from the Commonwealth based on another valuation of less than $1 million, a deal which also requires the government to build a $10 million underpass to the property.

    • admin says:

      Jon,
      The thing I have tried to highlight in these lists is the utter contempt for even a modicum of propriety. Even the small bikkies stuff is the same snout in a smaller trough.

  • Russell says:

    Jon, concerning “small bikkies”, or “try-it-on” allowance-stretching plus contempt for parliamentary expense limits. Once a Canberra minister, whose prior nationality I cannot reveal to be a small nation above France, was either disorganised or forgot. Suddenly he realised, Mon Dieu!, that he needed to be in the Big Shots’ tent on the first Tuesday in November. Thus declared he, “Get me an RAAF jet tout de suite to fly moi, myself and l the 4000kms to Melbourne for the Cup!”. Then Lord Flanders flew reverse, perhaps landing on his very own front lawn in Perth, a day or so after hobnobbing with penniless paupers at Flemington. He was one senator in a government plane likely to have been one of the VIP jets the Feds have lavishly refitted lately.
    Did this (soon to retire nameless) personage consider how such self-indulgent that act might appear? Under rules, a pre-booked commercial flight costing immensely less should have been enough. The problem with such small things is that they still reduce popular esteem of government figures, and also indicate that more serious corruption is afoot. Some of our coddled pollies swipe neapolitan wafers, but flogging bikkie cartons from a Woollies truck is getting all a bad name.

  • Russell says:

    I need to correct myself here. I made a mistake in my previous post; the politician in question did not use the aircraft for a Melbourne Cup jaunt, it was related to the swearing in ceremony of 2018, of nearly the most abysmal PM we’ve ever had. (Even Scummo can’t rate as vile, as incompetent, as Mr Tawdry Pugilism in his short reign of nation wrecking). Regardless, for a chronic user of the government’s super-expensive Challenger jets to dart around the country on so-called ministerial business, look no further than the same senator I mentioned last time.

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