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Accountability in the Canberra bubble

By 2353NM  

The Australian Federal Police have dropped the investigation into the political ‘hit job’ Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor failed to execute on Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. For those who came in late, we noted last December.

Morrison has also spent a considerable amount of political capital defending Energy Minister Angus Taylor. Apart from being implicated in a scheme when the government paid $80 million for water rights without receiving any water, meeting with the then Environment Minister to discuss why no action should be taken when 30 hectares of protected grasslands in the Monaro region of New South Wales was poisoned by a company in which Taylor has a beneficial interest and claiming an increase in carbon emissions over the past three years is good news, Taylor is also under investigation by the Parliament for an ongoing argument with Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Taylor wrote to the Lord Mayor in his Energy Minister role suggesting $14million spent on international travel was inconsistent with the Mayor’s public position on emissions reduction, as well as leaking the letter to the media. It’s a pity the real figure was a somewhat more palatable $15893.29 (and $5308.88 on domestic travel). Taylor claims the fault wasn’t his; regardless Australia is still talking about it coming into December (a month later).

You could argue that Taylor has apologised to Moore, it was an honest mistake and everyone should move on, however you would be wrong. If it was an honest mistake, why was the letter leaked to a media outlet that has a history of dislike of the current Lord Mayor of Sydney and a track record of minimising or outright denial of the effects of climate change, despite the hollow claims of the octogenarian head of the company that owns the masthead? Sydney City Council metadata demonstrates that there was no evidence that the ‘incorrect data’ relied on by Taylor and his office in their explanation was ever loaded onto the Council’s website.

The same AFP is still investigating the ABC and News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst (including raids on ABC offices and Smethurst’s home last June) over the publication of what was claimed to be official secrets, namely

that the heads of the defence and home affairs ministries had discussed draconian new powers to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australian citizens for the first time.

Under the mooted plan, spies would be allowed to secretly access emails, bank accounts and text messages with approval from the defence and home affairs ministers.

Under current laws the Australian federal police and domestic spy agency ASIO have the power to investigate Australians with a warrant and seek technical advice from ASD, which is not permitted to produce intelligence on Australians.

As Katherine Murphy observes in The Guardian

Sticking with the sliding scale of harm, it is true that nobody is ever going to lose any sleep over an issue as micro as the size of the Sydney City Council travel budget, and whether a commonwealth cabinet minister thinks it’s a good use of his time to pick a student politics fight with a local government official.

But I suspect a number of us do care if documents have been falsified and whether fake documents are being deployed in public debate.

That would seem to me to be quite harmful activity in an age where citizens in democracies don’t know who, or what, to trust in politics and public life, and are suspicious of institutions that once enjoyed significant levels of respect.

Not being able to determine what’s true, and people not being held accountable when falsehoods happen, is incredibly harmful. It’s more than harmful, actually. Corrosive is a better word.

In deciding not to investigate, the AFP also determined that getting to the bottom of the Taylor/Moore imbroglio would require a “significant” level of resources.

Taylor has not been vindicated here as Morrison says. The AFP have chosen, rightly or wrongly, not to investigate an apparent pitiful attempt at tipping a bucket on a political rival as it would consume too many resources.

At the same time, journalists have been ‘under investigation’ by the AFP for a considerable period, presumably using plenty of resources, for doing their job — accurately reporting information that should be in the public domain. Regardless of the opinion of the Government of the day or the AFP, we should be aware that even if you are not under investigation by law enforcement authorities, there are plans to allow a secretive government agency to be able to intercept your emails and phone calls if approved by government ministers who potentially have similar ethics to the one minister who has just resigned for pork barrelling vulnerable electorates, another under a cloud for allegedly using his influence to assist his personal business ventures and has the time to apparently play childish political games.

Most jurisdictions in Australia have an independent body that investigates apparent corruption in politics and government. The Federal Government doesn’t. Taylor has questions to answer over the water rights dealings noted above, as well as the apparent falsifying of data for political ends. McKenzie only ‘resigned’ once she became a political liability to Morrison.

Since McKenzie ‘resigned’, her fingerprints are all over another $150 million that was granted to a number of organisations in marginal coalition seats for ‘female change rooms’ and ‘pools’. There were no guidelines or application process. Councils in NSW and Victoria found out about the grants in their local newspapers. In Queensland, a grant of $2 million to build a pool at a school in Brisbane’s rapidly expanding northern suburbs has been refused by the State Government as the land is needed for classrooms. Yes, a pool is useful for students for around an hour a week, an accessible classroom building has far greater usage with apparently far less federal funding.

In addition, it is currently being reported that Infrastructure Minister (and Deputy Prime Minister) McCormack awarded 94% of infrastructure grants to areas represented by the coalition political parties.

And they keep refusing to consider legislation for a ‘Federal ICAC’.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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17 comments

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  1. Roland Flickett

    The AFP have no integrity. They showed that with the unforgivable bastardry displayed in the case of the Bali 9 (for whom I had no sympathy but was appalled by the way the AFP allowed them to be sacrificed).
    Under all subsequent Coalition governments they have shown themselves to be an SS or Gestapo in waiting.

  2. TuffGuy

    Regards Angus Taylor let us also not forget his attempt at tipping a bucket on Clover Moore was all about trashing her reputation because HIS WIFE is apparently running for the job of Mayor of Sydney.

  3. ajogrady

    Conservatives Want Australians To Lose Faith In Politics and Institutions. If this statement is incorrect then why do so many people feel that the system is against them or has let them down or is biased and ineffectual. Who has orchestrated a systematic erosion and demonised all of the principals of a Civil Society and the rules and boundaries that make it a functioning and dynamic Democracy.

  4. Kronomex

    Accountability LNP style is simple: Screw you all, we’re in charge.

  5. Pagnol

    Interesting fact, for fans of anagrams anyway, Morrison Taylor = Moron Tory Liars.

  6. DrakeN

    Kronomex,

    the evidence for much serious effort being undertaken towards reducing Australia to an autocracy is becoming more apparent with each passing moment.

  7. pierre wilkinson

    so, you vant to know if ve have integrity?
    zen ve vill vant to interrogate- er talk to you about your allegiance to all us quiet Australians
    so, ve haff your name and number, your address and herr frauline, ve haff time to investigate you for subversion
    but Angus? Michaela? Herr Dutto himself? waste of time to bother looking at any of those icons
    but you reporters, Union bosses, whistle blowers and basically anyone who annoys or disagrees with us, ve haff time to pursue you!
    except the bloody Nats
    but don’t worry, after a fair and impartial investigation ve vill exonerate your accused and find you guilty of withholding information

  8. whatever

    Spivs and swine occupy the Govt. benches. They are not remotely interested in Public Administration.
    They are just re-living the University Student Association takeover stunts that Tony Abbott pioneered. Its all just a bit of drunken undergraduate humour, and they get paid handsomely for it.

  9. Pingback: Accountability in the Canberra bubble #newsoz.org #auspol - News Oz

  10. Jack Cade

    Right now I am in Wollongong (visiting from Adelaide) having breakfast in a popular Central cafe.
    While waiting for our order, the lady handed me a copy of the Daily Telegraph – in my considered view the worst newspaper in any city in this wide burnt land, worse by streets than the appalling Adelaide Advertiser, and the Editorial – actually a shot at China over the virus, starts
    ‘Authoritarian regimes thrive on deceit.’
    Thank you, wrinkled Yank. Your serfs summed up the Morrison/Dutton abomination in 5 words, albeit by default.

  11. Max Gross

    Australia does not have a federal government. It has a federal crime syndicate.

  12. wam

    It is pretty obvious that Bridget acted with the integrity needed to be in smirko’s cabinet.
    She, like rupert’s editors, is zealous in her pursuit of her boss’s wishes and went overboard, not as far as Rebekah but may be criminal?
    I have a hang up about ‘review’ as being just a look and how we used to record everything in writing and evaluate the outcomes. Today the process cost is evaluated over lunch with a wine and cigar and ticked off.
    AFP started with eggs as a politician’s private police force and notice anning and smirko copped eggs so the pollie force got going and as any visit to a website will show they are poised on the far right??

  13. corvusboreus

    Jack Cade,
    Any time I visit an establishment that offers ‘complimentary’ copies of a murdoch tabloid, I make a point of flicking straight to the classified section for ‘adult services’, fold-creasing them open on the ads for whores, then replacing them on the rack, thus leaving the newscorpse promotion of prostitution out in open public display.

  14. Jack Cade

    Corvus.

    Leaving it unopened with the daily Morrison scandal on the front page is about the same!

  15. corvusboreus

    Jack Cade,
    The only time newscorpse give any semblance of accurate report on emerging scandals around coalition conduct is when they want to replace the current leader with someone more plaint towards implementing their agendas.
    They will only ditch ‘scomo’ when it is either ideologically convenient or politically necessary.
    Meanwhile, the headlines are full of heightened fears around Chinese plagues and greenie arsonists, and promotion of the latest must-see moments from married at first sight.

  16. Aortic

    Cannot believe the headline. In the OZ from Van Onselen who I always thought was more of the reasonable commentators in that despicable rag. ” Dimished Joyce not the man he was.” Michael McCormack won’t survive but Barnaby Joyce no longer has the skills and finesse he once possessed. Sorry I must have drifted off when Barnaby was displaying his skills and finesse. This beetrooted philandering pisspot has been the prime example of the bucolic buffoonery that so sadly has such an Iron Age effect on whatever the Colaition thinks are relevant policies. We really must be the luckiest country in the world to be able to afford to watch this idiot have a dummy spit because none of his henchmen were elected to cabinet. He well knows of course that Morrison and his henchmen need their votes to survive but again it is all for personal position whilst the good of the country is only an afterthought at best.

    Any political party that cannot govern on its own right is immediately compromised and such subservience can never be to the profit of the people. It must always reflect the need to retain power at all costs.

  17. Matters Not

    Re:

    Any political party that cannot govern on its own right is immediately compromised …

    Indeed that’s the case. But that maxim also applies to any individual politician who always needs the generalised ‘other” if there’s to be any effective, personal action. Seems to me that Barnaby was an effective politician on the national stage when he had credibility but that’s now – not the case in the wider electorate.. Nevertheless, he seems to have some standing in certain demographics.

    My bet is that Barnaby will again lead the National Party. Maybe not when in government but certainly when the Nationals again become desperate or perhaps even more ambitious..

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