Turnbull’s tawdry corruption tally tops the ton — that didn’t take long!

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

The Turnbull Government has reached a round 100 in separate instances of rorting the system. So let’s hold our noses as Alan Austin continues IA’s corruption count!

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It has taken just 29 months for Turnbull’s corruption count to reach 100. That is a rate of 3.5 rorts revealed per month, or almost one a week. By corruption, we mean actions which have benefited – financially or in other ways – Coalition members or their mates at the expense of the community.

For the profound damage done by this incompetent and dishonest regime to be understood – and eventually reversed – the record should be complete. Thus this sorry series continues:



The corrupt conduct exposed by the latest Barnaby Joyce scandal – which Independent Australia has consistently reported – is Coalition ministers finding high-paid jobs for girlfriends or mistresses. Joyce’s mistress Vikki Campion was moved to a lucrative position with another minister, Matt Canavan, and then with party whip Damian Drum. According to reports, the latter was not to fill a vacancy but was a salaried “job” specially created.

How is this morally different from a minister employing his mistress himself?


The additional specific failure in the Campion matter was Joyce and Canavan not seeking the Prime Minister’s approval for her “job”, as clearly required by section 2.23 of the statement of ministerial standards. The tawdry excuse Turnbull offered on Monday was that Campion was technically not Joyce’s “partner”.


Still on Barnaby, Independent Australia has documented the extraordinary conflicts of interest related to Joyce family pastoral properties and mining operations.

The full saga – including risks to artesian water and staff moving between the PM’s office and mining corporations – is explained here.



Millions in Federal funds intended for “economically struggling regions” have been diverted to some of the country's richest Coalition seats.

A Fairfax analysis of the $620 million National Stronger Regions Fund found that the electorates allocated the most money included blue ribbon Liberal seats of Kooyong, held by Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, and Warringah, held by Tony Abbott.

Many poor electorates got nothing.


The Turnbull Government has used taxpayer funds to pay $436,000 in legal costs for Nigel Hadgkiss, the sacked head of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. This compounds the damage done by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash in failing in her duty to remove Hadgkiss when she knew of impediments to his tenure. (Refer item 76 here.)

The Federal Court last September ordered Hadgkiss to pay an $8500 penalty after finding he displayed “arrogant ignorance” in breaching the Fair Work Act.

A Senate estimates hearing has confirmed that the cost of defending Hadgkiss was originally estimated at around $50,000, but then raised again and again until reaching $418,000. An extra $18,000 for in-house advice brought the total to $436,000.

A more clear-cut case where the guilty party should personally have paid the costs seems hard to envisage.


Cost of “stopping the boats” was confirmed at recent Senate estimates hearings at more than $4 billion for the last financial year. This charge to taxpayers has little to do with border security, but much to do with the Coalition parties seeking political capital.

The boats, in fact, have not stopped coming. Senators were told that 31 asylum seeker boats have been turned back since 2013. The largest number of people intercepted during that period was 71, in a May 2015 operation described as “an assisted return”.


NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin has chosen a colleague and two family members of colleagues for prestigious government positions. Appointees are former Liberal Party president Christine McDiven, former NSW Premier Nick Greiner’s ex-wife Kathryn Greiner and former Finance Minister Greg Pearce’s wife Shauna Jarrett.

This follows Greg Pearce’s 2013 sacking from the state ministry by then premier Barry O’Farrell after several scandals – including accusations of jobs for the boys.


According to another Fairfax investigation, taxpayers have had to pay $200,000 for former Liberal Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett to rent office space — from his wife.


Communications Minister Mitch Fifield was given a pair of cufflinks by Foxtel last September just days after legislation highly favourable to the Murdoch corporation was passed. This included a questionable $30 million grant to Foxtel. Despite urgings for explanations why this is not corrupt, Fifield has failed to respond.


Directors can still shut down an Australian company to avoid paying accumulated debts, then continue the same lucrative business the next day under another name. The Coalition has promised for years to stop this practice – known as phoenixing – by registering directors and other strategies. But it keeps delaying the legislation. This postponement has reached the point where the Government must accept it is facilitating this corporate corruption.


This has almost been forgotten with Barnaby Joyce’s other recent blunders, but in November, billionaire National Party supporter Gina Rinehart personally handed the Deputy Prime Minister a $40,000 cheque for being a "champion of farming”. Joyce thanked the mining magnate and said he would spend it on his farm.

On reflection, he – or maybe colleagues, detecting the stench – decided this was too much even for the Nationals. So the money was handed back.

That being the case, this will not be added to IA’s tally. But the incident illustrates further the corrupt mentality now pervasive across Australian business and politics.

On Tuesday, Joyce tried to diminish his culpability for the latest scandals and the damage to the nation by telling a Nationals meeting that every political career had a “time of trial”.

Maybe. But no nation in the Westminster world has had as many “trials” inflicted upon it by its own administration as Australia over the last 29 months.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanAustin001.

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