Politics Analysis

The rorting, taunting Coalition Government

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Is it any wonder that, despite promising to introduce one, the Morrison Government has voted against a federal integrity commission 31 times?

Is anyone surprised that the PM blames Labor and refuses to discuss it further? And, is anyone shocked that the media lets this Government set the agenda each week, claiming that the majority of us don’t want one?

Well, Independent Australia wants a Federal ICAC, our investigations editor has started a political party, Federal ICAC Now, to do everything possible to facilitate one and we know our readers overwhelmingly support its inception.

And so, we begin the first part of our novella of Morrison Government MPs – some of whom are not running for re-election and others that are newly minted candidates, as well as the old stalwarts – who illustrate why this Morrison Government should not be returned. Regular readers will note that we began the process with the Prime Minister last week.

PORTERS AND BLIND TRUSTS

Any doubts about the obscenely biased media coverage of corruption should be instantly dispelled when one considers the swift resignation from Parliament of former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who was found to have accepted a gift of a few thousand dollars from a Chinese businessman. 

Contrast this with the $1 million gift then Attorney-General Christian Porter received from an undisclosed benefactor. Not only did this not end Porter’s career, he was permitted to finish his parliamentary term on the government purse. 

The former Attorney-General is not re-contesting his seat. However, after historical rape allegations and the above-mentioned million dollar gift from a person or persons unknown, Porter faced no inquiry and the PM pronounced him “innocent” of any wrongdoing. This declaration of innocence must have been based on divine information, given an investigation was never undertaken into Porter’s activities and the allegations against him.

At that time having moved from the Attorney-General role to the Science and Industry portfolio for unknown reasons, given his claimed innocence, Porter did resign from the Cabinet but remained in Parliament.

It has also become apparent that Mr Porter’s post-parliamentary legal career has taken off with the first case commencing on 12 May. Why is this relevant, you may ask? It is significant because Porter could not be commencing such a case without substantial preparation while he was supposedly still employed as a member of parliament and simultaneously appealing the findings of his defamation case against the ABC and Jo Dyer.

Australians remain none the wiser regarding the source of the $1 million handout accepted by Porter.

Unsurprisingly, the Liberal candidate running in Porter’s seat of Pearce, Linda Aitken, is a member of Margaret Court's fundamentalist Pentecostal Victory Life Centre

FRYDENBERG’S GUIDE

As Anthony Klan reported on IA, the Treasurer and would-be PM’s department secretly deleted from the “independent review” into the Australian Securities and Investments Commission review three of the four findings it made in response to official, top-level, concerns raised by the Auditor-General. The findings related to $118,557, which the regulator’s boss James Shipton charged taxpayers for his personal “tax advice”.

Frydenberg – who earlier managed to misplace a cool $60 odd billion from the Budget – also spent much of the two years of the pandemic attacking and undermining the health advice of Victoria's Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton and Premier Daniel Andrews, which he considered to be “ludicrous” and “unacceptable”. At the same time, Treasury’s pandemic funding for New South Wales far outstripped that offered to Victoria. 

Is it at all startling, then, that the Treasurer is now facing the possibility of losing his seat in that very state?

Frydenberg’s response has been to produce advertising materials featuring cute puppies alongside the endorsement of the CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria. Unfortunately, as this organisation is a charity, endorsements of this type happen to be illegal.

TUDGE AIN'T BUDGING

Our final candidate whose activities might lend themselves to an integrity commission is Alan Tudge, who was a Cabinet Minister, then he wasn't and now he is again ... we think. 

So far, Alan Tudge (one of the ministers involved in the Robodebt scheme) "acted unlawfully" and "as if he was above the law"  when, as Immigration Minister, he intentionally kept an Afghan man languishing in immigration detention for five days, despite having been granted a temporary protection visa, because Tudge “did not like the tribunal’s decision”.

Then there was the matter of his alleged sexual impropriety with staffer Rachelle Miller. 

Referring to both Tudge and Porter, Morrison said at the time that there would be no inquiry into the allegations because:

“They have engaged in no conduct, as they have served in my Cabinet, that is in breach of the [Ministerial] code.”

Unlike Porter, Tudge did eventually stand aside while an inquiry was undertaken into the affair. Perhaps predictably, however, the inquiry found there was insufficient evidence that Tudge had breached the ministerial standards. 

Nonetheless, Ms Miller filed a lawsuit alleging workplace harassment.

All of which brings us to today and why, if there was insufficient evidence of misconduct, Rachelle Miller is due to receive a $500,000 taxpayer-funded compensation payment, plus legal costs. 

Finally, Morrison announced Tudge was still in his Cabinet, even though he had stood aside and that he would be returning as education minister if the Coalition is re-elected:

“He didn’t resign, and nor was he dismissed. He stood aside, and we had an independent inquiry. That independent inquiry found there was no reason he could not continue on as a minister. Alan decided to stay, standing aside.”

Of course! And the half a million dollars paid to Tudge's former staffer?

Morrison said:

"Those are private matters between the Department of Finance and Ms Miller, and they’re appropriately at arm’s length from me.”

Well, that certainly clears things up, because why would the Prime Minister need to know why $500,000 was being paid out for no apparent reason in relation to one of his Cabinet ministers?

At least we know why, despite promising to introduce one, the Morrison Government has voted against an anti-corruption commission 31 times.

Stay tuned for more in our rorting, taunting Morrison Government series. 

This is an abridged version of an editorial originally published in the IA weekly newsletter. Subscribe now to read the full version online in the IA members-only area.

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter at @independentaus, on Facebook HERE and on Instagram HERE.

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