Cleaning the Coalition stables

On Dec 2, 2019 the Australian Parliament voted on a motion to create a federal Anti-Corruption Commission. The motion was put forward by Andrew Wilkie, an Independent from Tasmania. The motion failed, because a majority of federal parliamentarians was against the creation of such a body. The votes were cast along party lines, with no deviations.

The text of the motion commenced with the following:

(a)over a long time now the behaviour of both major parties has made it abundantly clear that Parliament cannot deal with matters of ministerial integrity, and Australia urgently needs a Federal Integrity Commission;

and included:

(c)the scope of this integrity commission must extend beyond criminal offences to a range of corrupt and unethical behaviour including donation-fuelled favouritism, cronyism and the rorting of parliamentary entitlements;

Recently Senator Bridget McKenzie, a National Party member, and Deputy Leader of the party, was found by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to have acted outside the spirit of a $100 million sports grant program, overseen by McKenzie while she was the Minister for Sport, in the lead-up to the 2019 Australian federal election.

The ANAO stated that it “was administered in a way that was not informed by an appropriate assessment process and sound advice”, and sporting organisations in marginal seats that the Coalition needed to win were favoured with grants.

Although there are a myriad of such priceless moments in Australian parliamentary history, it is disheartening to once again encounter such shamelessness in a senior minister, and indeed in every member of the Coalition. Bridget McKenzie has refused to resign, and ridicules the very notion that she should. Her defence has been varied, from describing it as “reverse pork-barrelling” to “no rules were broken”. Such brazenness is breathtaking, but not a surprise.

Andrew Wilkie’s motion could not have been more appropriate, and on the money, had he been a psychic, or a fortune teller. Bridget McKenzie has clearly engaged in behaviour which falls into the area anticipated by “extends beyond criminal offences to a range of corrupt and unethical behaviour including donation-fuelled favouritism and cronyism.”

We can credibly throw in cronyism as well, because she threw buckets of money at sporting clubs in Scott Morrison’s electorate, in Tony Abbott’s (lost) electorate, and the Attorney-General, Christian Porter’s, electorate. Her ‘throw’ to Josh Frydenburg’s Kooyong is staggeringly inappropriate, if you see this as a ‘needs-based’ programme, which it is. Kooyong sits in Melbourne’s ‘dress circle’, where there are more tiaras than headbands.

In Mr Frydenberg’s economically well-endowed seat of Kooyong, the Guardian reported grants were given to Camberwell Hockey Club ($38,000), East Camberwell Tennis Club ($90,000), Kew Little Athletics ($92,450), Grace Park Hawthorn Club ($25,000) and Hawthorn Malvern Hockey Centre ($500,000). These grants all occurred in the second and third rounds, as the election approached and when it seemed that the Liberal Deputy Leader might have been in a spot of bother, electorally speaking.

There is considerable doubt in my mind as to whether these sporting clubs’ applications were completed by volunteers working into the night.

I cannot be sure if rorting of parliamentary entitlements is on her CV, but she once took a 1,700km direct charter flight to Melbourne from Rockhampton, so she could watch the Melbourne Mustangs ice hockey team. The cost to taxpayers was $19,942, plus $500 for the Comcar from the airport to the game, the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority data showed. A week earlier she spent $14,000 flying via charter to Cairns to watch a basketball game. She sat two seats from Prince Charles. You have to hope it was worth it. There were commercial flights available in both instances, but busy is busy!

But enough enjoyment from the cheap seats, concentrating on only one member of the Government. It is equally interesting to look at how the parties voted on the original motion advanced by Mr Wilkie.

The website states that, when the vote was taken, the vote in favour was unanimous from the Labor Party, Australian Greens, Centre Alliance, Independents, and even Bob Katter;

Against was also unanimous: the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Liberal National Party. So the reactionary right voted 100% against having an anti-corruption body, with teeth, which would be set up to investigate Parliamentarians, their staff, and the Public Service. You have to ask yourself, “What do they have to hide?”

Plenty. The fact that Scott Morrison’s office is mainly staffed by Energy Industry retirees, relentlessly pushing the fossil fuel industry cart. The stacking of the AAT, with time-servers, most without legal qualifications; Angus Taylor and his imaginary water, all $80 million worth; Angus Taylor and Clover’s imaginary travel costs: our minister for climate. Barnaby and his service as Drought Envoy, report delivered by text; wow. How about George, the Minister for Manila; Matthias and his free holiday; sorry, not free!

The list is endless, although opening Christmas Island for a press conference, at a cost of $180 million, probably takes the cake. It is discussed here, more fully …

What do you call it? Is dishonesty too strong? It seems we need an Integrity Commission, asap! No chance, with this Government.

3 thoughts on “Cleaning the Coalition stables”

  1. Pick a team to represent Australia.
    I said pick a team.
    One question before we start. What sport are we playing?
    Am I a Selector?
    The players have already been selected you just get to choose the one we like.
    Can I choose the one I like?
    Is it a level playing field?
    Seriously? Would we have gone to all the trouble of selecting someone for you to choose if some other bozo had an equal opportunity to win?
    I cannot believe you asked that question.
    So are the people you choose good players, well qualified to represent their country and its people, sound judges of character and a decent sense of right and wrong, good all round skills?
    Who are they then?
    I told you, these are people who we chose?
    Do they have any high quality skills that set them aside from the man on the street?
    They do not ask questions! They are grateful for the opportunity to serve!
    The people?
    Sorry, this is getting a little bit tiresome. You clearly do not understand the political process, this is the reason we pre-select. The team we are putting together will be representative of the party members willing to do anything for the betterment of the party, who, in turn, will do everything in their power to repay huge personal and other debts we have accrued over many years of playing politics.
    So it’s not like representative footy where only the best get to play?
    Exactly. That would be a nightmare. The playing surface in politics is quite uneven, good decent players perform at their best on good surfaces.
    Can we get the playing surface re-turfed?
    No! We paid a lot of money for this surface.
    Whatever! By the time the game starts the team has been selected, everybody knows their position, no deviations from the game plan, no solo runs down the sideline, no talking back to the coaching staff and no substitutions, the selected team play the full game regardless of what injuries they sustain, even fatal ones. We will be playing down wind for the entire game, our goals will be smaller than those of the opposition and the grass will always be greener at our end of the pitch. All media will be handled by the captain, especially full time prepared comments on what happened out there.
    What happens if the opposition score a goal?
    Very unlikely. But if so there is a play that has worked countless times in the past. The team gather in the centre of the field and point at a preordained spot in the crowd, this can take a while until the match officials and media become focussed on what is being pointed at, then our captain tells them nothing happened and the game continues. It’s a good strategy, works every time, it’s called the Howard Protocol.
    So is it always a good game? What about the people watching?
    And again we are back to the silly questions.
    The game has nothing whatsoever to do with anything. I told you. Selecting the team is everything.
    So a strong team equals a winning for Australia team?
    Christ! For the last time, winning has nothing to do with it, Australia definitely doesn’t .
    It’s the team, a weak minded rabble compliant with the wishes of the Captain and his backroom support staff, indebted to the owners and the organisation that brought them through the ranks and into the big time, willing to do and say anything to remain on the team.
    Isn’t it obvious by now!

    Liked by 1 person

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