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The case for a Federal ICAC

On May 15 this year, the Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, unsuccessfully introduced a bill to create a national anti-corruption body.  She makes a powerful case, raising many very concerning examples.  Every Australian should read what she had to say.

“The federal government is the only jurisdiction without the infrastructure to confront corruption. Every time wrongdoing is exposed, one-off reviews or ad hoc investigations are launched.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the people blockading at Bentley against Metgasco because today the New South Wales government has suspended the licence that was granted because there was no consultation with local people and because, through the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations, it is pretty obvious that the licences were given wrongly. But it should not take ordinary citizens taking the action that they have to hold governments to account, to make sure that licences are not given as a result of money paid behind the scenes or undue influence or favours in any other way.

And now for the third time the Greens have this bill before the parliament to create this office to crack down on public sector corruption and promote integrity in our public institutions. In fact I cannot see why anybody would oppose setting up a national ICAC, and I will be very interested to hear what excuses are offered. It is pretty obvious that corruption does not end at the border of New South Wales; it does not end at any other state border. When you consider the likelihood of corruption in the federal arena, it is pretty overwhelming. So many major projects are dependent on some federal licence being given, some engagement with a federal agency. Therefore, there is a huge temptation for people, both at the political level and in the bureaucracy, to engage in talking with lobbyists-and who knows where it will end up.

I want to give an example that is on the go right now. You have the financial services industry, which did not like one little bit the fact that in the last government Labor and the Greens moved to change the law to require those people in the financial services industry to act in the best interests of their client. Now what is wrong with someone being required to act in the best interests of their client? You would expect that to be the case. But what has been revealed is that in a whole lot of the managed investment schemes, for example, the financial advisers were not telling the people they were selling the products to of the massive kickbacks that they, the financial advisers, were getting as a result of recommending that product. So what happened? The financial advisers became rich, but the people who bought the product, well those people lost and lost out badly.

When I think of the tragedy of the people who were sucked into buying from Great Southern Plantations, Gunns and the rest, you have to ask the question: how on earth did the financial services industry get to the point where it was able to con the parliament into agreeing that it could sell a product without having to act in the communities’ or its clients’ best interest?

Now we have a situation where the financial services industry has persuaded Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government to change the act back to remove the need for financial advisers to act in the best interests of the client. And we what do we find? We find that the financial services industry is part of the North Sydney Forum, which is a fundraiser for the federal Liberal Party-in particular, Treasurer Joe Hockey. What does that tell you about the influence of lobbyists-the way that lobbying groups get involved in private fundraising engagement with political parties? The delivery is given here in parliament in terms of outcomes. And it is entirely secret. Until this was forced out recently, nobody would have known about that backroom dealing that was going on.

That is why it is critical. The same thing goes with novated leasing and a whole range of things, including the salary packaging industry. That industry is in there with the car industry to set up a situation where you can minimise your taxable income by going through this lurk of novated leases. We got rid of it in the last period of government, and I see that the current Liberal Party is about to restore the rort.

That is the kind of thing that goes on, and that is why the community is getting increasingly frustrated and wants to have some reassurance that there is some way of investigating what they can clearly see is on the verge of corruption, if not corruption.

In this Greens legislation, the National Office of Integrity Commissioner is modelled on the successful New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption. It is based on provisions in the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Act 2006. The first part of it is about the National Integrity Commissioner, and that is concerned with corruption in relation to public officials and Commonwealth agencies, and has full investigative powers, including public and private hearings and summoning any person or agency to produce documents and appear before the commissioner.

I think that is fair enough. Why shouldn’t public officials, Commonwealth agencies and parliamentarians be subject to that kind of oversight in the federal parliament? I will give you an example-it happened recently-which many people will have read about. Just in this last month we saw two men-one from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and another working with the National Australia Bank-using unpublished unemployment, retail and trade data at the Bureau of Statistics to trade in foreign exchange derivatives. Somebody working in a government agency was working with someone in the private sector and using that information. That insider trading brought in millions of dollars to the two men, but in this case it has been picked up by our criminal justice system. I am glad it has been picked up by our criminal justice system, but it may not have been. What pathways do members of the community have to put forward matters and have them investigated?

I want to go to another example-the issue of Securency, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank. Mr Warburton has been appointed by Prime Minister Abbott to review Australia’s renewable energy target. We know that he has been the subject of a secret internal investigation into his role as a former director of a firm involved in Australia’s worst foreign bribery scandal. That investigation and those findings by KPMG were sent, in February, to the Reserve Bank Board. They deal not only with Mr Warburton and his fellow former Note Printing Australia directors but go to the knowledge of, and handling by, Note Printing Australia’s sanctions-busting trip to Iraq in 1998. Yet yesterday, when I sought the parliament’s approval to put that document on the table of the parliament so that we can know what exactly went on and what KPMG found out about those directors-in particular, Mr Warburton-the government and the opposition voted together to prevent the Senate order that would have required that report to be tabled in the parliament. I put the question: why shouldn’t the parliament have access to that KPMG report on what has gone on?

I want to give another example. One of my constituents, who I will not name, is a fisherman in Tasmania. He was approached by two Austrade officials in Japan. He was asked to provide fish to this supposedly Japanese businessman who they vouched for. They said he was a credible person and that they had done the due diligence. They said that the government wanted this trade in order to develop the relationship with Japan in high-quality seafood. So this fisherman went ahead and did it, at the request of Austrade. He was quite happy with his own business. He did not need this business but he went ahead with it because they asked him to.

The long and the short of it is that he provided the fish to this place in Japan-to the businessman whose bona fides Austrade vouched for. After a while the fish were collected but no payment was made. Later it was revealed that there was no such businessman. The person that Austrade had vouched for did not exist. Austrade had invited my constituent to get involved with a shonk. Why? In order to justify the Austrade office in Nagoya they had to show that they were turning over a certain amount of business. So they set up this whole thing. The result of it is that my constituent went broke, and the department backed their two officers to the hilt.

There was no natural justice in this. As far as I know, those two officials remain employed in Austrade. I think it is totally wrong. I have pursued it every which way, seeking natural justice for this person. But the bigger question here is: how many other Austrade officials around the world are setting up similar kinds of scams and presenting figures to the federal government on the extent of the business that they are engaged in when, in fact, it has all been set up to secure their postings rather than the business that was supposedly there to be delivered?

I will give you another example, under the Green Loans scheme in the last period of government. It was riddled with incidents of inappropriate behaviour from some public servants, who favoured particular suppliers. They split contracts so that they did not have to go to competitive tender. The audit reports into the scheme make for deeply troubling reading, with systematic breaches of procurement policies and basic financial management regulations. The question is: was it just maladministration or sloppiness? Were they under pressure to get these Green Loans and audits out the door? Did they do this in order to facilitate a government policy, to get it out the door? Or were any kickbacks paid? What actually was done when the audit reports came in and showed there were serious questions to be answered?

The public does not know, and neither does this parliament. Those of us who have constituents bring these things to us have no mechanism to have them investigated. And if we cannot actually give enough evidence for a breach of a criminal kind it goes nowhere. Well, I think that if it is good enough for the states to recognise that there is a high risk of corruption and that they want to actually try to eradicate corruption, then at the very least the federal parliament should go there as well.

It also goes to our international standing. We are a signatory to two important anticorruption conventions: the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which entered into force in December 2005, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. This is another one where Transparency International has previously criticised Australian law for its low and ineffective penalties for corruption. It found, in its 2009 report, that Australia made little or no effort to enforce the OECD Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

I will give you another example: in Zambia, as I stand here, there is an Australian mining company over there trying to get a licence to put a mine in one of their biggest national parks. It was refused by the environment agency in Zambia but then that was overturned by a minister in that country. International NGOs have alleged clearly that money changed hands. And yet you have an Australian state government backing this company to the hilt. What is the arrangement? Who is involved in this?

You have the United States currently investigating BHP in China in relation to corruption. This was one of the things referred to the Australian Federal Police. It was not taken up by the Federal Police, but I raised it at the last estimates and they now have.

Equally, in Macau, where the Chinese took action against a citizen there for bribery in relation to casino developments-in particular, Crown casino developments. The Chinese citizen was jailed there for taking a bribe of $100 million to free-up the land for the casinos and provide the licences. And yet when that was referred to the Federal Police to look at from our end, what was done? Zilch, zero-nothing! Now, why? Why are we allowing this to happen? I would like to have a very considered explanation from my parliamentary colleagues in other political parties here as to what they could possibly have against setting up a national integrity commission-a commission against corruption.

The other thing we need to do is to reassure the public that the entitlements we get are appropriately accessed and spent. That is why as part of this National Integrity Commission, the Greens are saying that we want a new Office of the Independent Parliamentary Adviser, to advise MPs and ministers on entitlement claims and the ethical running of their offices that the public rightly expects. That adviser that would be tasked with developing a legally-binding code of conduct for MPs for the parliament to adopt.

Of course, this goes to the heart of the recent wedding scandal, where people had claimed expenses to go to various weddings, functions and so on, and the question was really: were those really for parliamentary business or were they using an entitlement just because they could get access to it? There was the famous case here, many years ago, of an MP who flew to Perth and back and who did not leave the airport lounge, simply to get the entitlement in relation to frequent flyer points. This was using a public, taxpayer funded fare to fly from the eastern states to Perth, sit in a lounge, have lunch and come back in order to get the frequent flyer points. This is why we have had the awful scandal in the last parliament with the former Speaker, Peter Slipper, and allegations made about him and his use of entitlements. But he is not the only one by any means. There have been a lot of allegations. That is why it is actually to the benefit of parliamentarians that we get this, because it enables people to go and ask the question, ‘Is this an appropriate use of my entitlements or not?’ and actually to have that sorted by someone who is overseeing it.

So I implore the parliament: corruption is serious. It distorts our democracy and it hurts communities, communities who end up like those in the Bentley Blockade, having to take action because governments have colluded with business to get the outcomes that business wants against the community. So, come on: let’s get a national ICAC for Australia and let’s do it in this parliament to restore and maintain our reputation, and to help build trust in the parliament rather than the level of cynicism about the revolving door between big business and politics.”

39 comments

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  1. Sir ScotchMistery

    Well done as ever Kaye. One can only sit back and ponder the deafening response to thid from ALP, who as usual will do nothing, since when the shoe is on the other foot, Shorten et al, will be their with their snouts in the trough.

    We, as Australians have held our heads up for years as we constantly note to the referees internationally, that we are high on the list of countries in the Corruption Perception Index. In fact, in 2013, we were 9th. http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results

    In fact that was also the case back in 2005, and it would appear that in general we have kept a fairly high standard.

    What has changed? Parliamentarians are now paid over $300K, our overseas representation appears to be getting paid fairly well, so why are our governments suddenly seeing corruption as acceptable?

    Is it because we have made them accountable as far down the chain as we should? Is it fair to say ALP and LNP are just another coalition of the willing to do whatever they have to, to keep their positions and their fat salaries, moving on to their outrageous pensions?

    Yesterday Abbott gave the military a 1.5% pay rise. About half the rate of inflation. Essentially a cut in pay. But you and I have said nothing, even as this egomaniacal nut-job posing as prime minister sends them off to another war we had to have.

  2. Kyran

    I would hope they go further and introduce protocols for all government spending, based on facts rather than political expediency. In Victoria, the government has signed a contract for the east west link tunnel without providing one iota of evidence based research as to need, projected usage or return on investment. As for the “commercial in confidence” smokescreen, governments need to understand that the tax payers are parties to the contracts being exercised by them. “Imagine” seems to have been a theme on this site over a few articles and responses. Imagine if we had bona fide demographers formulating infrastructure spending. Perhaps they would suggest no more building of freeways unless there is a dedicated/incorporated rail line or public transport component. Perhaps they would suggest we solve one of Australia’s greatest tyranny’s, distance, with technology, the NBN. I think it was Finland that recently had a 70/30 project for a national NBN. It would cost about 30% of the budget to provide 70% of the coverage (metropolitan) and 70% of the budget to provide 30% of the coverage (rural). The benefits in equalising the delivery of health, education and most other “social services” to both rural and metropolitan areas through their NBN was considered more than sufficient justification. The anticipated savings over the next decades is staggering. In Australia, however, we have to get past an unhealthy connection between media owners and their commercial imperatives before we can consider the “public good”. We seem to believe it’s not a politicians domain to justify the unjustifiable. Do we need a federal ICAC?

  3. Kaye Lee

    I am at a loss as to why Bill Shorten has yet again cosied up to Abbott in his opposition to a federal ICAC. The examples pointed out by Christine Milne are horrifying. James Packer is being given introduction to the highest levels of government around the world as part of Tony’s travelling circus of businessmen. When it turns out he is paying bribes to Chinese officials to add to the world’s gambling woes, NOTHING is done. Dick Warburton likewise with his involvement in bribes from Note Printing Australia. Not only are these people not prosecuted, they are praised and rewarded by our government.

    We did discuss the pay cut to the military (can’t remember what thread). I wonder how many of them will be lining up for a selfie with Tone now as he turns up for the photo shoot waving them off to his war.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Kyran,

    Infrastructure Australia USED to be an independent body that prioritised infrastructure spending. The head of Infrastructure Australia quit (or was forced out) after he complained about the Abbott government’s interference in overriding their recommendations for their own political agenda.

    As for the NBN, Tony Windsor said the Senate Committee was told that if we could facilitate 20% of elderly people remaining in their homes for 1 year longer before going into aged care, we would save $60 billion over the next ten years from this one thing alone.

  5. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Bravo Christine Milne and the Greens for championing the cause to bring on a Federal ICAC!

    I, like you Kaye, am frustrated by the dead-ends deliberately established in legislation and bureaucratic channels for ordinary citizens to pursue natural justice for themselves or the community’s “greater good”.

    I applaud the Greens for your determined effort to bring this bill for the third time before the parliament. It is essential for our democracy that the Federal ICAC is created, so that this office cracks down on public sector corruption and promotes integrity in our public institutions.

    The benefits will immediately permeate out into the wider private sectors where corruption is also rife, but easily disguised by the shield of private enterprise. Discrimination against equal employment opportunities for mature age women in all sectors is an obvious example of what could be advocated, if there were a rigorous advocacy and enforcement culture inspired by a rigorous Federal ICAC.

  6. Matters Not

    The case for a Federal ICAC seems overwhelming. Milne’s speech provided some information that was certainly new to me.

    As for:

    the pay cut to the military

    Possibly a ‘set up’ so Tone can ride to the rescue?

  7. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    “Discrimination against equal employment opportunities for mature age women in all sectors is an obvious example of what could be advocated [AGAINST], if there were a rigorous advocacy and enforcement culture inspired by a rigorous Federal ICAC.”

    (I missed that key word “against” in my earlier comment.)

    I also agree. Where is Labor and Bill Shorten when calling for the Fed ICAC?

  8. CMMC

    Rising sea levels, anyone?

    Sydney to Canberra train stopped last night by flooding, at Bexley North. The estuarine suburbs along the Cooks River are regularly inundated. Places like Tempe, where you can see the Harbour Bridge in the distance, are naught but flood and mosquito swampland.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Apparently we are risking gaol time by even talking about the RBA bribery case.

    “A sweeping gagging order issued in Australia to block reporting of any bribery allegations involving several international political leaders in the region has been exposed by WikiLeaks.

    The prohibition emerged from a criminal case in the Australian courts and applies throughout the country. It was issued by the criminal division of the supreme court of Victoria in Melbourne “to prevent damage to Australia’s international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings”.

    The Australia-wide gagging order is a superinjunction, which means it also contains a clause insisting that the terms of the order itself should remain secret. It was issued on 19 June and states: “Subject to further order, there be no disclosure, by publication or otherwise, of any information (whether in electronic or paper form) derived from or prepared for the purposes of these proceedings including the terms of these orders.” The gagging order relates to a case that “concerns the subsidiaries of the Australian central bank”.

    This is not simply a question of the Australian government failing to give this international corruption case the public scrutiny it is due. Foreign minister Julie Bishop must explain why she is threatening every Australian with imprisonment in an attempt to cover up an embarrassing corruption scandal involving the Australian government. The concept of ‘national security’ is not meant to serve as a blanket phrase to cover up serious corruption allegations involving government officials, in Australia or elsewhere. It is in the public interest for the press to be able to report on this case.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/wikileaks-australia-super-injunction-bribery-allegations

    (Don’t forget, if I type the word “bananas” it means a white van has just pulled up outside my house)

  10. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Dick Warburton must wear some sort of alluring fragrance that makes senior pollies like Julie Bishop attempt to spit terror at journalists and members of the public when discussing allegations of bribery by bureaucrats in the RBA.

    It’s not Australia’s reputation at risk, Julie Bishop. It is yours, Dick Warburton’s, and any other public dignitary’s, if s/he may be alleged to act in a corrupt manner while in office.

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself, but then I’m just a mature age woman, who is very frustrated by my limited meaningful, paid employment prospects in this disgusting declining economic environment under the Liberal National Party watch. That means jobs are shrinking and I’m being pushed further to the back of the queue.

    Anybody wonder why my blood boils when I hear corruption allegations about Neanderthals like Dick Warburton?

  11. lawrencesroberts

    The Greens should put it in the start of The green manifesto, writ large.

  12. Kyran

    The Note Printing saga pales into insignificance to the AWB deals in Iraq, pre 2003. Both of which were referenced in Milne’s Ode to Integrity. Which reminded me of the NSW Premiers speech yesterday regarding reforms he wants to introduce to address his party’s “oh bother, they caught us” situation. One that got my interest was the statute of limitations. Apparently, ICAC can only go back three years and he wants to amend this to ten years. I would suggest the statute of limitations on a politician’s involvement should be extended to a period as long as their entitlements last. My understanding is that that is as long as they draw breath.
    PS If I type the word “excrement”, it’s either a white van, I’ve just tried cooking, or the PM has just said something stupid.

  13. Kaye Lee

    Kyran,

    You are going to be typing a lot of excrement and I am not referring to your cooking skills. Every single day there are more and more examples of the hypocrisy of this government and the fact that they are beholden to their masters.

    Re the politicians attack on ANU’s investments….

    “For politicians to try to bully, coerce and influence this university is just outrageous,” Mr Hewson said.

    “The big story here is what got the politicians so stirred up? Was it the Minerals Council? It virtually owned the previous government and appears to have large influence over this one.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/john-hewson-and-malcolm-fraser-blast-liberals-over-anu-divestment-backlash-20141014-115g2r.html

    Whilst we cannot discuss politicians’ corruption, Morrison is busily gearing up to prosecute the Save the Children workers from Nauru

    Section 70 of the Crimes Act is being used by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison against 10 staff from the aid organisation Save the Children on Nauru accused of communicating privileged information to non-Commonwealth workers.

    He has referred the matter to the AFP for investigation

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/antiwhistleblowing-law-being-used-to-pursue-save-the-children-staff-used-only-twice-in-five-years-20141013-1157jt.html#ixzz3G7OOzWo3

    And whilst Tony Abbott refuses to discuss climate change at the G20, he has invited the coal lobby to address the meeting.

    While the prime minister has resisted pressure from the United States and Europe for climate change to be included in the G20 agenda on the grounds that it does not fit the meeting’s economic focus, Peabody’s – the world’s largest private coal miner – Australian president Charles Meintjes was invited to make a presentation to a workshop for the G20’s energy program in Brisbane in August.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/14/mining-companies-lobby-g20-leaders-to-back-coal-as-future-of-energy

    This place is going to hell in a handbasket

  14. John Fraser

    <

    @Kaye Lee

    You do realize you have given a ringing endorsement for voting for The Greens.

    I don't have any problem with it because I came to that conclusion a couple of months ago.

    Isn't one of the major construction companies (Holmes-a-Court ?) having some (international) bribery problems ?

    And how is it that Murdoch’s “News Corpse” can be involved in hacking and bribery and not have any recriminations in Australia ?

    I know the U.S. Corporations law covers that sort of behaviour by U.S. companies ( News Corpse is Registered in Delaware).

  15. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Just coz Tony [dumbarse] Abbott won’t discuss climate change at the G20, doesn’t mean nobody else will. That will show Tony [Neanderthal] Abbott up for the intellectual microcosm and incompetent that he is.

    I agree with Kyran’s suggestion that the Fed ICAC’s statute of limitations “… on a politician’s involvement should be extended to a period as long as their entitlements last”, assuming they are longer than 10 years.

    Furthermore, I am nervous for the sake of the Save the Children workers’ rights to fairness before the Law, especially with Scott [fire-breathing] Morrison bringing out the big guns of s7 of the Crimes Act. Well Scott, that legislation will work both ways, so I’d be watching my back very carefully, if I were you.

    (My code word for the scary white van is … splattered.) That will be Abbott and the LNP Neanderthals when they lose in a landslide defeat at the next Federal Election, and then face in the courts the consequences of their unethical and incompetent actions while in office.

  16. donwreford

    The voting public were not informed that they were voting for the North Sydney Forum? we have to admire a party that owes allegiance, to a group that has to make money for the few, meaning not a few Liberal voters, but the few as to be within the 1%, with all our political commentators who daily instruct us as to what is good for the so called common good? or should I say the common bad, as the common good may be interpreted as communistic, to some who are surprised as to how close the communistic system is to capitalism, by this I mean, communism, is run by a few unelected leaders, in capitalism, it is run by a few, who not only have their own interests at heart and their club, but often the pretense of what you are supposed to be getting is not what you get, simply put, both systems work on a inner circle, and outer, as you can see in communist, say China, you get police repression, and to the western observer, their is a increase of policing the public and curtailing of individual rights.

  17. Kaye Lee

    Despite the fact that it has been revealed that Leighton Holdings has been bribing corrupt officials around the world, they are still in favour with our government.

    Corruption and cover-ups in Leighton Holdings’ international construction empire were rife and known to top company executives and directors, according to internal company files

    In revelations that will cause international embarrassment for Australia and raise questions about the role of the nation’s corporate watchdog, the files expose plans to pay alleged multimillion-dollar kickbacks in Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere, along with other serious corporate misconduct.

    Hundreds of confidential company documents, obtained during a six-month Fairfax Media investigation, also reveal a culture of rewarding corruption or incompetence, and abysmal corporate governance in what looms as the worst recent case of corporate corruption involving a major Australian firm

    Those in the know included the Australian construction giant’s chief executive at the time, Wal King, and his short-term successor David Stewart.

    Mr King, one of Australia’s most highly regarded chief executives and who has reportedly been approached by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull about taking an NBN Co board seat, was chief executive of Leighton Holdings for 23 years and is a prominent Sydney business community figure.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/building-giant-leighton-rife-with-corruption-claims-20131002-2ut2e.html#ixzz3GAMdyVk1

  18. stephentardrew

    Ah but Labor is doing a wonderful job pushing away progressives while the Greens are throwing out the welcoming mat. There may yet be political pain for both parties if this garbage keeps on going. Accountability whazat? Nah, nah, nah you public mugs have got it all wrong we are the knowers of truth and will determine who is a goody and who is a baddie, who is a lifter and who a leaner. Our mob would’t take advantage of voters after all we love you guys. Labor seems to be blowing a huge hole in its credibility.

    Come on Australia the bold writing is on the wall how about a litter bit of literacy.

    That we could consider our government to be a representative of the people when so little is done to avoid corruption through a simple mechanism like a federal ICAC is just mind blowingly ignorant. Let’s just elect them and go into hibernation till the next electoral farce. Seems to me we are throwing democracy and the rule of law in to the garbage bin of capitalist greed leaving legislative gaps wide open for sneaky underhanded dealings of self-interest.

    How dare you suggest we politicians are corrupt just because there is evidence.

    Oops that cant’ be right. Have to lookit that later hey?

  19. stephentardrew

    Now Kaye, Kaye, Kay these guys are lifters so just back of you trouble making leaner.

  20. Florence nee Fedup

    ICAC at the Federal level essential. Mainly so no other PM can go down the path of this one, setting up numerous, expensive RC for payback and dirt digging,

    One that is independent of government.

  21. Florence nee Fedup

    Does one realise, the terms of reference for TURC prevents them from investigating employers. If one listens too the proceedings, many are not lily white. It Is said they do not want it to turn out like earlier RC into unions, where it was found the boss to be guilty. Remember “bottom of harbour” that was revealed in one against Melbourne Painters and Dockers, Another mentioned is inquiry into Clerks Union. Do not know that one.

  22. Terry2

    Of course we need a federal independent commission against corruption but what worries me is that the influences at work on this government and its policy direction ( the miners, big business generally and of course the Murdoch interests) are insidious and would not necessarily be addressed by an ICAC – it comes under the heading of undue influence.

    We have a weak government with a very weak and easily manipulated Prime Minister : only the polling booth can sort this mess out, if Australia really cares.

  23. diannaart

    We’re dreamin’ if we expect already corrupt organisations to investigation their own corruption.

  24. Kaye Lee

    Why are these people immune from prosecution? From 2011…..

    UNTREATED sewage and heavy metals from the nation’s biggest water utility are contaminating some of Sydney’s most picturesque waterways and posing potentially widespread health risks, but the extent of the problem has been kept quiet.

    The $32 billion Sydney Water Corporation has breached its pollution licences more than 1000 times in the past five years. And yet the NSW government’s Office of Environment and Heritage has not prosecuted one of the breaches.

    Sydney Water has also been unmasked as the state’s biggest polluter of mercury, but the OEH has placed no restriction on how much it can discharge.

    The federal government’s National Pollutant Inventory shows Sydney Water’s North Head sewage plant dumped 24 kilograms of mercury off Manly in 2009-10, through its deep ocean outfall pipe. That dwarfs the next biggest mercury polluter, the Springvale Colliery’s 0.66 kilograms.

    The OEH had shown itself to be incapable of enforcing environmental laws. They have also not prosecuted the Lithgow sewage treatment plant, operated by the local council, which has shown faecal contamination in its discharged waters every year for five years.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/water-issues/look-whos-polluting-sydney-waters-shame-20111022-1mdjr.html#ixzz3GAmf4nPz

  25. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    The list gets bigger.

    When the Fed ICAC is formed, as an independent enquiry chaired by dignitaries, who act “without fear or favour”, then every one of these wrongs will be exposed and the culprits held legally liable.

    I hope they are all shivering in their very expensive shoes.

  26. stephentardrew

    Having read all of the linked articles the pattern is undeniably clear. We have a substantial problem with political and corporate corruption and no “efficient” independent body to make them accountable. Contractors, workers and investors lose their financial and housing security causing intolerable pain, hardship and suffering while the courts are structured to drag out investigations for years. By then there is nothing left to distribute to those disfranchised by corruption. Environmental and other regulations are ignored with no resultant accountability.

    Labor needs to insist on an inquiry into the corporate and financial sectors with similar frames of reference to the inquiry into unions. Then they need to initiate a federal ICAC to investigate political and departmental corruption. Think thats going to happen?

    I tell you what my old party is really starting to piss me off big time. I went on strike to protect workers and conditions and to drive social justice and equity now I have to listen to shorten hiding in the shadows of our demented misleader. The factional fools no longer represent the people. Yes let’s just kid ourselves its all going to be OK. Well it ain’t.

    The old boiler is starting to reach critical as I contemplate a potential emotional explosion of epic proportions.

  27. corvus boreus

    My critical disillusionment with federal labor as a decent alternative turned to disgust when they voted down Senator Milnes ICAC proposal in May, using quibbling over details as an excuse.
    My disgust has been replaced by contemptuous loathing since W Shorten vowed to act in total accordance with A Abbott to “defend against the perception of corruption”. A collegial cover-up rather than any attempt to address an obvious problem causing widespread public concern.
    Federal Labor is obviously just as filthy as the LNP, a faded, jaded doppelganger tagging along for the ride.
    Under W Shorten, Labor unreservedly supports aggressive foreign wars and repressive domestic laws, actively opposes political transparency, and has ruled out any measures to reduce carbon emissions. Not much of an alternative.
    In its current incarnation, it offers nothing in the way of political salvation, and shall, under its current course, fade into electoral irrelevance.

  28. Sir ScotchMistery

    donwreford Can I point out that, in spite of memory issues I am aware of, I don’t remember seeing Peta Credlin’s name on any ballot either.

    As has been opined elsewhere, it’s very difficult to see any saviours among the current crop of ALP people either.

    Imagine both the senate and the reps having 30 independents in them.

  29. Anne Byam

    Corvus ………..

    we have but one party at this time …. the Labor / LNP coalition. ……

    I hung on as long as I could to the possibility of Labor being what it is supposed to be ….. and what it always has been in the past – for the people of our country ( NOT the bureaucrats, autocrats, and associated ideologies ) ………. I have now officially given up.

    However, with a ONE party preferred ???????? …. we all must know what THAT means.

    The word ‘disaster’ comes to mind. UNLESS the people wake up, realise what has happened under their very noses, and bloody do something about it.

    ( I am looking at Greens myself, but cannot quite trust ….. yet ).

    As for ICAC …… any body of Government that denies scrutiny of itself, along with other major ( particularly monetary ) organisations, in any way possible, is a dictatorship, a fascist monstrosity, and an extremely dangerous mob.

    Must find a way to get rid of them.

  30. kerrilmail

    One proviso that should exist if an ICAC were to get up at a Federal level, is that
    Any State or Federal elected Member of Parliament, or any staff employed to assist said Member of
    Parliament, found to have been involved in corruption, shall by doing so, have been found to be, hereafter, ineligible to any pension, superannuation or monetary benefits at the cost of the taxpayers of Australia.

  31. corvus boreus

    The motion for a federal ICAC needs to be raised again in view of there being many new senators in the house since the last time it was voted down.
    The PUPs and cross-benchers should be given a chance to show their colours. There may even be a view honest souls there.
    In general response to some of the comments posted;
    Expanded terms of reference for an ICAC would be preferable(including croney appointments and commissions, the role of ‘think-tanks’, media influence etc).
    Harsh punitive measures for those who have transgressed would be wonderful.
    However, the broader and harsher the terms proposed, the less likely the chance of the motion passing.
    Details were used as an excuse to derail the last attempt to impose some honesty upon federal politics. It is a little idealistic to see pollies voting for a motion with the potential to personally strip them of their retirement ‘entitlements’, since the simple motion to merely investigate wrong-doing was defeated so resoundingly last time around.
    The proposal for a corruption enquiry should be simple, modest and airtight, to maximise the chance of successful passage.
    Wider frames of reference, increased power of authority and draconian punishments can be proposed with increased justification and likelihood as the scope and depth of political corruption becomes unarguably obvious and public feeling intensifies.

  32. Dissenter

    There is a new threat to democracy that has just been demonstrated. Murdoch has BOUGHT politicians like the PREMIER OF NSW Mike Baird to act in his new TV ad campaign for his Daily newspapers EXTRA. These ads cross promote both the politician and the product- a two way deal
    This circumvents any election funding issue because this advertising is FREE. OR is it? THe politician has been BOUGHT.
    If this ad campaign is ALLOWED to happen without penalty to the political PLAYERS then there is no holds barred for election advertising or cross promotion: any product any time.
    THis is not just FUNDAMENTALLY corrupt. It also tarnishes the stature of the Premier of NSW, the position , the government and the person.
    In NSW this ad was aired coinciding with the announcement of harsh new penalties for election slush funding etc.
    This is not coincidental. It is planned.
    In this ad campaign both Baird and Murdoch are pushing the boundaries to SEE what the voters will accept and what the Opposition parties will accept.
    If accepted this flagrant abuse of power and position will become a daily event.
    Corruption is taking another NEW FORM more blatant and visible than before and more embedded in impact both within the LNP and media but also being embedded as ACCEPTABLE NORM and practice in the public eye.
    I suggest:
    Baird Breaks Bad
    Blunder Baird is Murdoch MINION
    Baird Break a LEG in TV ad
    Backroom Baird Breaks OWN FUnding rules
    Baird STARS in TV ad for DAILY TELEGRAPH
    Baird BUSTED with BOLT
    BAIRD CROSS promotion is CORRUPT

  33. Florence nee Fedup

    Cannot understand why there is no outcry. Years ago, the wife of a politician was pilloried for taking part in ad for sheets, I think it was. Also Labor.

  34. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    @kerrimail I agree with your comment above:

    One proviso that should exist if an ICAC were to get up at a Federal level, is that
    Any State or Federal elected Member of Parliament, or any staff employed to assist said Member of
    Parliament, found to have been involved in corruption, shall by doing so, have been found to be, hereafter, ineligible to any pension, superannuation or monetary benefits at the cost of the taxpayers of Australia.

    I think that just about covers what the reasonable bystander would expect as a just punishment for any MP or related staff employed, who have been proven to be corrupt or to have committed corrupt acts.

    No benefits, No nothing. Even worse, they can be fined at levels that exceed any financial rewards that they may have received.

    When it hits their pockets or threatens to, we’ll see the general pollie conduct cleaned up.

    On the other hand, dubious characters might not want to enter into the political forum in the first place and that suits me fine, as they can move over for pollies with integrity and commitment to working for the greater good.

  35. Matt James

    Dissentor… I didn’t even know that, unbelievable. Just bastardry w/- a f**k you. But… is it a mistake on their behalf? Surely this level of aggression (can’t wait for Murdoch clones to seize on that one) cannot go on for much longer. And the hoards behind all of this? Now its official Abbot is setting up Medicare to be gutted by U guessed it For Profit INSURERS meaning sold off Medbank or the smug, above it all Bupa. Again a war on those who actually do something unlike the over rated out of control most criminal arm of a rapacious finance sector who are waging this, health insurers. Kaye Lee, you are pretty good at tracking down the Little bits of info on how much finance sector thieves pilfer from either innocent individuals or public funds, like tax (a 4 letter word as far as traders go and worthy of being hissed at by the journalists & health Insurer CEOs that for some reason get so much space to spread their lies in The Australian Financial Review). Why don’t team up with me on Bupa if U like? Remember, they ruined nurses who reported their gangrene nests to what turned out to be puppets back in the UK, they are not nice people at the helm of this. More later.

  36. Rob031

    Thanks for the word salad Matt James. I want mine with mayonnaise.

  37. Sir ScotchMistery

    We are talking about Australia here, where the USA tests just how far they can go in terms of screwing the electorate, before they do it to their own.

    Australians, are by and large, political oxygen thieves. Here is a list of exemplars:

    # Australians will happily vote for someone who is a liar (both sides of the house, too many to name).
    # Australians will happily vote for someone who they didn’t know they were voting for. (Peta Credlin)
    # Australians will happily vote for a principle supporter of a person they know hates their country (Abbott & Murdoch)
    # Australians will happily vote for someone who they know is corrupt (Abbott, Slipper, Brough, Abetz, Palmer)
    # Australians will happily vote for a hooker. (Abbott selling his arse for the job).

    Australian politicians are really card carrying americans, (selective non-capitalisation)supporting whoever is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    Australians know that, and styill vote for them ergo my stand on oxygen theft.

    Pensioners who knowingly vote for coalition because they are “in care”, should lose the vote.

    Workers who vote for the coalition are simple, and should note have the vote.

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