Just what does it take to be sacked or even demoted in the Morrison Government?
For Coalition MPs, misconduct and downright corruption not only go unpunished, but they are even often rewarded.
- Need a cushy post-parliamentary job in the office of a lobbyist? Don’t stress — ministerial guidelines are made to be broken!
- Have a family member in need of water rights? Step right up and help yourself.
- Pesky native forest in the way of your development plans? No worries! Reconfiguring environmental protections is a Coalition speciality.
- Want to join the club, but not yet elected? Have we got a fat taxpayer cheque for you!
- Perhaps you need a few extra votes in your marginal seat? Sweet as! Just ask Bridget.
There is no doubt that dishonesty and corruption are not exclusive to the Coalition. However, the complete lack of accountability, or even the pretence of any consequences for inappropriate – if not downright corrupt – behaviour in this Morrison Government is gobsmacking.
Emboldened by its re-election, in what had been categorised as the "unwinnable" election, and then propelled by a turbo-charged, ever-compliant media, any or all misconduct is ignored, covered up and even rewarded in the Morrison Government.
BRIDGET MCKENZIE'S DIARY OF RORTS
The latest in the torrent of misconduct scandals involves Deputy Nationals Leader and Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie.
A $100 million sports grant scheme was set up in 2018 for “needy” sports clubs. Not letting her lack of expertise dampen her enthusiasm, then Sports Minister McKenzie threw herself into the role, acquiring abundant confidence along the way. So much bravado, indeed, she ignored the advice of government agency Sports Australia, plus the legal framework under which grants are administered and followed her own “assessment process”.
This assessment process is still to be fully explained, but apparently involved a complex eligibility test structured around whether recipients were situated in marginal or key “target seats” and/or Bridget herself was a member.
According to The Guardian, a ‘blistering auditor general report’ revealed:
‘… that McKenzie’s office ran a “parallel assessment” to that undertaken by Sports Australia, leading to hundreds of projects that were deemed to be more meritorious missing out in favour of those in Coalition “target seats”.’
Many of these were wealthy and exclusive clubs, such as $500,000 each for a Liberal Party-linked Perth tennis club and a Hawthorn hockey club — which also just happens to be in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong.
The "struggling" WA Applecross Tennis Club, with million-dollar views of the Swan River and city skyline, received its $500,000 grant just two weeks before the May Election.
The club’s president, Paul Miller, said:
"It is only a rort if you are not in it... They [the Liberal Party] have done a huge job for us over a lot of years."
As well, much of this largesse was – coincidentally and definitely not on purpose – doled out just in the nick of election time for ministers whose electorates were getting iffy — such as that of the “needy” Kooyong seat of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Also, of course, purely by chance, Josh happened to be on the review panel that increased the sports grants scheme by $40 million in April, just ahead of the Federal Election. Frydenberg justified the windfalls in his electorate, saying many of the grants were given to projects which "survive off the smell of an oily rag".
This is all fine, though, because David Littleproud said McKenzie was “doing a damn good job” and the PM said, “All the rules of the program [its own] were followed”. Well, if they say it's not pork barrelling, who are we to argue?
Rorting and pork barrelling within this Government are nothing new.
THE CRIME MINISTER
As Michael Pascoe astutely put it in the New Daily:
The rorting of the $100 million community sports grants program was flagrant corruption and Prime Minister Morrison and senior ministers were in on it up to their ethically-devoid eyeballs.
That’s why Mr Morrison can’t throw former Sport Minister Bridget McKenzie under the bus. If Senator McKenzie is judged to be unfit for her job, the same goes for the Prime Minister.
As we’ve mentioned before, there is no accountability for Morrison Government ministers because this Prime Minister (or “Crime Minister” as he has been dubbed on social media) appears
‘… to be heading a protection racket. A racket where completely unqualified people are given plum tax-payer funded positions, in which the rorts and transgressions of those in the fold are above scrutiny, and where the mainstream media turn a blind eye.’
Lately, the tally of wrongdoings does appear to be growing at an alarming rate, but the Crime Minister has perfected the art of deflection, listening and learning from his role model and expert, Donald Trump.
He will just keep obfuscating and distracting the (mainly, easily distracted) mainstream media until all is forgotten. There are too few in the media prepared to remind us.
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