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(Image via @The_Russell)

Every month, more examples emerge of Coalition MPs and officials abusing their power for financial or political gain. Alan Austin continues the corruption count, which has now reached 75 instances — with no end in sight.

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IA’s last corruption update brought the number of issues of profound concern to 65. Turnbull’s tawdry tally ticks along:

66. Branch stacking

The Liberal Party still engages in illegal or unethical practices in its internal affairs. Tuesday’s reports claim one person paid for 90 “members” to attend last weekend’s NSW Liberal meeting, which voted to change the pre-selection process.

Last month, the religious right inside Victoria’s Liberal Party was accused of stacking branches with Mormons and Catholics in order to pre-select more conservative candidates.

67. National water plan subverted

The second top bureaucrat in the NSW Coalition Government’s primary industries department, Gavin Hanlon, secretly offered confidential inside information to irrigation lobbyists to undermine the critical national Murray-Darling basin plan.

This was revealed in Monday’s ABC Four Corners program. Labor and the Greens from South Australia, NSW and federally have called for an urgent inquiry. The Turnbull Government has taken no action.

68. Contempt of court

Victoria’s supreme court ordered three Federal Coalition ministers to appear before it last month to make submissions as to 'why they should not be referred for prosecution for contempt’. This follows public condemnation of court decisions by the three: Health Minister Greg Hunt, Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge.

These serious violations of the Westminster principle of separating government from the judiciary went unpunished by the court after the three issued grovelling apologies. No action was taken by PM Turnbull.
The court also required The Australian's editor and a journalist to attend and explain their apparent contempt of court. This detail was barely noted by the nation's mendacious mainstream media.

69. Cash for no criticism?

Hidden in May’s federal budget was a handout of $30 million to Rupert Murdoch’s Foxtel. Exposés of this rort by the ABC and the Guardian, and the non-response from the Turnbull Government, make this appear as straight payment for favourable coverage – or non-coverage – of the Coalition’s dismal performance.

Had the Turnbull Government genuinely wanted to boost marginal sports – the stated excuse for the transfer – it has its own TV networks with much greater reach, which would have kept all the funds in Australia.

This payment to the Murdoch empire is additional to the $882 million gifted to it in 2014, when the Abbott Government decided not to pursue an outstanding tax debt.

Since that first transfer, the Murdoch organisation has steadfastly refused to report the dramatic decline in Australia’s economy, the multiple failures in foreign affairs and, of course, the burgeoning corruption.

70. Construction fatalities soaring

Safe Work Australia has just reported that 18 construction workers have been killed this year up until 20 July. That compares with 12 for the year to date last year and 22 for all 2013.

But here’s the thing: construction activity is disastrously down this year compared with previous years. According to recent Bureau of Statistics data, total private and public construction in this year’s March quarter and in the September quarter last year were at their lowest since 2011.

The Government that won office in 2013 largely on the accusation that Labor killed four insulation workers has now presided over 114 construction deaths.

71. Coalition links with China #1

Chinese mining magnate Sally Zou has set up an entity called the "Julie Bishop Glorious Foundation" to raise money for the deputy Liberal leader and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Bishop angrily denies being aware of this before early June and disavows compromising policy relating to China. Turnbull has taken no action.

72. Coalition links with China #2

Former trade minister Andrew Robb started working for a billionaire official of the Government of China the day after he resigned from Parliament last year. The timing suggests negotiations for the high-paid job took place while he was still supposedly serving Australia. This bolsters widespread concerns that the free trade agreement Robb negotiated strongly favoured China over Australia.

73. Illegal offshore detention

The Turnbull Government has agreed to a settlement of a staggering $70 million plus costs to be paid to Manus Island refugees — the largest human rights compensation in Australia’s history. This follows Papua New Guinea’s supreme court ruling last year that the detention was ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.

According to lawyer David Manne, this was a swift payment to avoid a court case which would have exposed the many evils of the Coalition’s detention program. If it is not this, it is certainly a costly confirmation of the failure of that illegal regime.

74. Heritage freedom from corruption

The Heritage Foundation has confirmed the serious decline in integrity in Australia’s institutions since the Coalition’s election in 2013. Heritage is an influential Washington-based rightwing think tank.

Its annual report on economic freedom ranks all nations on several criteria. Business freedom in Australia ranked fifth in the world in 2013 at 95.5. It has declined every year since to 14th ranked now, with a score of just 89.3. Property rights scored 90 in 2013. Now 81.7.

Most damningly, freedom from government corruption has plummeted from 88.0 in 2013 – ranked 8th in the world – to 74.8 now – ranked 18th. That is the most dramatic collapse of any developed country in more than two decades.

75. The Fitzgerald integrity principles

Finally, on a brighter note, anti-corruption campaigner Tony Fitzgerald and the Australia Institute have formulated a set of ethical principles and invited all parliamentarians to signal their agreement.

So far, 61 Federal MPs – 22 senators and 39 reps – have accepted. Excellent!

Party affiliations of the 61 are:

  • Labor: 45
  • Greens: 10
  • Minor parties: 6
  • Liberal: 0
  • National: 0

That brings the IA corruption tally to a staggering 75 instances. In less than four years. That’s more than one every three weeks!

It is difficult to imagine any other administration outside the most corrupt dictatorships with a worse record.

Unfortunately, with the mainstream media turning a blind eye – when not actively engaged – there is no end in sight.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanAustin001.

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