This week’s questionable Government dealings, for which no one is likely to be held accountable, are brought to you courtesy of Scott Morrison, Stuart Robert, Paul Fletcher, Matt Canavan and Dave Sharma.
There is no behaviour, it seems, that warrants scrutiny or disciplinary action if you are a member of the Morrison Government. This is because the government of the day, today, is in a league all of its own.
This Government has shown itself to be a law unto itself, accountable to no one. Its members appear to have been exclusively inoculated — not with the COVID shot but with a custom-made Anti-Accountability Vaccine.
In days gone by, government ministers never survived misleading parliament, for example.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s offensive, bellicose ramblings about former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Monday (7 December), provide another case study in how to avoid scrutiny.
"Why have Tony Abbott and Alexander Downer been able to leave and re-enter Australia multiple times this year when there are thousands of vulnerable, stranded Australians who haven't been able to get home once?"
Morrison replied by alleging Rudd had also obtained privileged travel exemptions. Except Rudd hadn’t.
And the former PM immediately took to Twitter to set the record straight:
'Morrison claimed in the Parliament today that I have obtained exemptions to travel into and out of Australia, taking quarantine places from other Australians. That is an utter falsehood. I haven't left Queensland since March. Morrison has misled Parliament and should apologise.'
The PM, now unable to conceal this blatant lie, was forced to write to the parliamentary clerk to retract his comments and apologise, apparently. It is fair to assume that the man who has turned refusing to apologise or answer questions into art form, would not have done so unless there was no alternative.
Nonetheless, this is known as misleading parliament. And the original question remains unanswered.
BULLYING THE POOR
Then there’s the issue of monumental stuff-ups. Such as the Robodebt debacle. Sure, this was found by the Federal Court to be unlawful. Yes, it is linked with 2,000 suicides. And yes, the Government had to settle the class action on the day it was scheduled to go to court, costing $1.2 billion. Nonetheless, the current responsible minister Stuart Robert refused, point blank, to admit fault. And his boss and engineer of the plan, Scott Morrison, still defends his own role in the indefensible money grab.
In fact, so completely insensitive to his own culpability in this heinous scheme that destroyed the lives of thousands of Australians is Robert, that he went as far as to claim credit for the eventual payout to victims. This is despite his blatant refusal to discontinue the disastrous program or even consider it might be “flawed”, which it was, at every possible juncture.
A cursory glance at Robert’s own record shows a Minister with an impressive rorting record, for which he was sacked by previous PM Malcolm Turnbull, following a “private” trip to Beijing to oversee a mining deal, involving a major Liberal donor and member of the Chinese Government. Of course, he was later promptly promoted again once Morrison became PM, to his current role as Government Services and NDIS Minister.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
And the list goes on. In a bizarre development this week, a coal mine belonging to the brother of former Resources Minister, Senator Matt Canavan, has gone broke. How is it that one of the most ardent proponents of coal, who just happens to have a brother who owns a coal mine, is able to act as Minister for Resources? No conflict of interest, there, obviously!
Other questions that may arise, but probably won't be answered, involve the rehabilitation of the mine and what, if any, role the Government will play in this.
And look out anyone who dares try and penetrate the Morrison Government’s protective layer of immunity.
Of course not!
One of the victims is now struggling to get a job.
And, in a final don’t-fuck-with-us move, one Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, has blustered and complained and threatened to sack the entire ABC board for even allowing the program to go to air.
NOT WHO YOU KNOW...
This, from the Minister who brought us the Western Sydney Airport land deal, which, while it was revealed only a few weeks ago, is already but a dim memory of another rort that passed without consequence.
To refresh our collective memories, that’s the one where a desolate vacant lot worth $3 million was purchased with our money for a whopping $30 million. The block was ostensibly acquired, in a sudden fit of forward planning by Fletcher, for a project that won’t, if it happens at all, come to fruition for another 30 years. And in a final colourful twist in the deal that the Auditor-General pronounced "unethical", the recipients of this windfall just happened to be Liberal Party donors, billionaire brothers Ron and Tony Perich.
That’s how it’s done, folks. It’s not who you know, but which member of the Morrison Government you know.
And, in a far from exhaustive list of recent, questionable Government activities, for which there are no answers, perhaps it’s also a question of what you know, as the following coincidences involving the fortuitous purchase of shares may indicate.
Liberal Member for Wentworth Dave Sharma holds a sizable stock portfolio, as indicated in his declared pecuniary interests. In two separate coincidences, companies in which Sharma recently invested, subsequently enjoyed sudden sizable boosts to their share price.
On 17 March, Sharma’s register of interests shows a purchase of Qantas shares, which were then trading at $2.86. The next day happened to be the day Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced a $715 million relief package for the aviation industry.
Qantas shares had risen to $5.38 (at the time of publication).
On 30 June, Sharma bet on big pharma, purchasing CSL shares, which were then trading at $287.
A couple of months later, on 7 September, the Prime Minister announced a $1.7 billion supply and production agreement between the Australian Government and pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and CSL. And then in November, the PM revealed a vaccine manufacturing plant at a cost of $800 million would be established in Melbourne.
At the time of publication, the share price for CSL had risen to $304.91.
It could be that Sharma was just fortunate in the timely increase of his investment portfolio, but reasonable questions should be asked.
Independent Australia will be looking more closely at this and other possible conflicts of interest among Government representatives in the coming weeks.
Because only when Australians demand that our entitled political class exercise proper probity, as is expected from the rest of us, will we see an end to this systemic lack of scrutiny.
At the moment, though, the lesson from this accountability-immune Morrison Government is simple. If you want to do whatever you want, to whoever you want, for whatever price you can get, become a friend or member of the Morrison Government.
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