Curbing corruption in Australia? Turnbull is not even trying

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With a statutory authority exposing more Liberal Party illegality, the Turnbull Government sinks deeper into its quagmire of corruption. Alan Austin reports. Again.

Read November’s instalment here, December’s hereJanuary’s here and February's here.

JUST WHEN March was looking bright enough for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his dirt-stained Liberal Party to consider an early election, the New South Wales Electoral Commission made yet another finding of corruption at the party’s core. One of several tawdry developments this month.

Illegal donations concealed

In the lead-up to the 2011 NSW state election, the Liberal Party operated a fundraising front to hide the identity of illegal donors. At that time, Turnbull was a prominent NSW federal MP, having been federal leader in 2008-09.

These rorts are not the isolated actions of careless or greedy individuals — as with most NSW ICAC findings and other recent scandals.

These are, according to the Commission, planned actions of

‘senior party officials constituting the party's finance committee.’

This is likely to embroil senior members of the federal Government, if not Turnbull himself. The finance committee included cabinet secretary Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who was the state division's finance director and treasurer at the time. Five other current ministers were then engaged in Liberal Party politics in NSW. Plus several assistant ministers.

Coming five years after the events, this revelation raises critical questions regarding similar illegality in other Liberal state branches and federally. For the latter, Turnbull has prime responsibility.

The NSW party has been instructed to identify those who made illegal donations. Naturally, given earlier ICAC and other findings, it is speculated these include property developers, casinos, tobacco companies and foreign governments or corporations seeking influence. Much more to come on this.

Abbott defies Turnbull again

Tony Abbott ramped up his contempt for his job as an Australian MP and delivered a highly public two-fingered salute to his leader and his electorate last week. He was in Europe working on a council serving the Government’s interests — the Government of Ukraine.

Most definitions of political corruption include being paid by two governments at the same time while working in the interests of only one.

This follows Abbott’s absence from Australia in February to address a conservative Christian group which lobbies against same sex marriage in the USA and a similar private trip to Britain last October.

While Abbott may have a record of supporting “family values”, he has no expertise whatsoever in foreign affairs. The opposite is the case. His multiple failures since becoming Liberal Party leader in maintaining good relations with Indonesia, Malaysia and other trading partners contributed to Australia’s worst trade deficit ever while he was PM. This is one reason he lost the top job.

Unsurprisingly, Abbott’s Ukraine connection is being ridiculed abroad. One French news outlet described Abbott as ‘known for his inconsistent behaviour’ (son comportement contradictoire) and his embarrassing gaffes.

He was described as one of several Ukrainian council members who are

politicians whose countries do not want them back.’

Abbott’s involvement may well be seen by Russia’s leaders and Australia’s pro-Russian trade minister Steven Ciobo as undermining trade relations. Which brings us to the next item.

Global Russian trade boycott

Australia has joined the international embargo against Russia. But is it fair dinkum?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website details sanctions Australia has imposed in response to the ‘ongoing threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.’ These include restrictions on export and import of goods and services, purchase or transport of goods, financial sanctions and travel bans.

That seems to eliminate all commercial contact. But wait. Another Government website – the Australian Trade Commission’s – is spruiking an official mining mission to Russia in mid April. It will visit several cities and include ‘meetings, roundtables and networking in Moscow’ and several mine visits.

This smells like the global boycott of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which John Howard’s Government illegally subverted between 1999 and 2003 in the infamous wheat for oil scandal.

To end the present two-faced stance, the Turnbull regime should cancel either the boycott or the trade mission. Until it decides which, Russia and the watching world are entitled to wonder what the "Блядь" is going on.

Workers exploited

The Fair Work ombudsman continues to expose workers being ripped off right across Turnbull’s Australia. Just in March – so far – industries identified in which students and others are exploited include mobile phone retailing, street food vending, administration, packing export goods, textile manufacturing, restaurants, massage parlours and apprenticeships. Just this month.

Illegal practices include refusing to issue pay slips, failing to keep records, imposing penalties for trivial “offences” as well as gross underpayments.

Choppergate report suppressed

A secret report prompted by the scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money in the Abbott months was sent to the finance minister this month. It urges some constraints, but not enough. Many entitlements are still rorts. Penalties for false claims remain a joke. There is no justification whatsoever for keeping this document secret.

Dodgy report on negative gearing

Finally, treasurer Scott Morrison lost further credibility when he misused a problematic document produced by private company BIS Shrapnel to attack his Labor opponents over tax reform. The report was shown to be factually wrong and to bolster none of the criticisms of Labor’s policy Morrison claimed it did.

If not corrupt – relying on a bogus document reminiscent of the 2009 Godwin Grech fiasco – just extraordinarily inept.

Fortunately for the Turnbull Government, the mainstream media is also corrupt to the core. It has little interest in reporting these rorts accurately and fully.

Such is Australia’s doom.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanTheAmazing.

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