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It was fortuitous for the Coalition government that the Covid-19 virus should disrupt the world at the moment when the integrity of the government’s actions was under intense scrutiny.

Since the Coalition came to power in 2013, under three different leaders, there has been a plethora of occasions when the behaviour of Ministers would have resulted in their resignations, from office or from Parliament, in past times, when integrity and honesty were expected to be standards to which parliamentarians should adhere.

Clearly those standards have varied but now it appears that there are none at all.

There have been many conjectures as to why Malcolm Turnbull created the mega-Ministry of Home Affairs and put Peter Dutton in charge. To judge from the regular criticisms, whenever the Australian National Audit Office conducts an audit, criticisms which include its ignoring due process, plus failing to follow correct procedures and act within budget, it was clearly not based on his competence as a Minister.

The hiatus over the Ruby Princess debacle has raised questions at to whether the Australian Border Force (ABF) really understands what its duties are intended to cover. The extent to which ABF’s attitudes seem to vary from fascist dictators to complicity in unacceptable behaviour bears witness to the foundation for reports of concern expressed by individual members as to exactly what they are there for!

Before it was effectively sidelined, questions in parliament were all centred on the clearly inappropriate handling of sports grants by the previous Minister for Sports Senator Bridget McKenzie.

A largely inappropriate and biased ‘inquiry’ partially exonerated her, and attempted to mollify critics by forcing her to, reluctantly, admit to a conflict of interest and so resign. It appeared the Scott Morrison had been heavily involved in the decision making which she presided over, but the virus hiatus intervened to his advantage.

Prior to that issue, there had been numerous occasions when Angus Taylor had been in the spotlight for less that scrupulous dealings in several matters, the most recent being a manufactured document implicating Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, in ridiculous levels of spending on travel.

The subsequent inquiry was totally inadequate but, once again, events set the matter aside for more life and death reasons.

I do not belong to any political party, but I support those politicians who value social justice and abhor those who are corrupt. Many matters of concern that have arisen during the Coalition ministry would have had the Opposition and the Murdoch media screaming from the rooftops had the ALP been in government!

Disappointingly, members of the public do not seem to be really concerned about corruption! In interviews with people on the streets after the sports rorts affair, one woman was recorded as not being surprised because “they all do it”! What an endorsement of irresponsible government – at all levels!

The Coalition has a one-seat majority in the House and relies on support from the cross-bench in the Senate. Yet Our (for me not so) Dear Leader has chosen to abandon democracy and establish a National Cabinet which, while including State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers of differing political persuasions, does not include the Opposition Leader.

He is also relying on advisers who are more clearly those with a vested interest from areas like mining rather than well-accredited experts.

The Covid-19 pandemic will not be over any time soon, and, sadly and particularly when a crisis intervenes, people tend to have short memories.

But examples of ingrained corruption made clear by the Sports Rorts affair and the actions of Angus Taylor, make it very easy to read unflattering biases by the government from the surprising designation of hairdressing as ‘essential’ – when Angus Taylor’s reputation among many makes it credible that he owns 2000 hairdressing salons (see comments below) – and the volte-face over making child care free, when Peter Dutton’s wife owns at least two such centres.

To lay itself open to accusations of bias because of having been perceived as providing funds where the choice of recipients is biased by political judgement, before an ‘unwinnable’ election, is more than ‘not a good look’, particularly when there is already a confidence deficit.

No doubt the Coalition is hoping that, by the time the country, and the world, returns to any form of normality, these issues will have been forgotten.

And the fact that the massive reduction of manufacturing activity, plane flights and people movement has resulted in a perceptible decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, might persuade the government that pressure for action on climate change will no longer be an issue.

But, just as a slight decrease in the rate of increase in Covid-19 infections is not enough to reduce efforts to prevent further spreading, so too the exponential growth in emissions having eased does not mean the problem of global warming can now be ignored.

Anyone in Australia who cares about integrity, transparency and good governance must be on their toes. By side-lining Parliament, Scott Morrison has already severely damaged a democracy which was not in brilliant health to begin with.

He is a man with an unbalanced world view, due to his religious affiliations – religion is not a seriously important issue for a majority of the population, although there are many who wish the government had a better moral compass – and our Constitution, itself in urgent need of revision, still requires separation of religion and state.

Now is the time for close scrutiny of future policies, which must include serious emphasis on reducing emissions, restoring CSIRO to its former glory, so that another pandemic does not catch us unprepared, and accepting that the economy is designed to serve the people, not vice versa!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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22 comments

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  1. Uta Hannemann

    Rosemary, I like what you write. Thank you for this detailed article!

    You say: “Now is the time for close scrutiny of future policies, which must include serious emphasis on reducing emissions, restoring CSIRO to its former glory, so that another pandemic does not catch us unprepared, and accepting that the economy is designed to serve the people, not vice versa!”

    Rosemary, to my mind all this is extremely important!

    Yes, corruption must be rooted out and climate change action returned to the agenda!

  2. RosemaryJ36

    Ute Hanneman: Every Wednesday from 1.00 – 3.00 pm, often with a friend, I sit out side the NT Parliament House and I have just sent you a friend request so you can see a photo of me in my green Extinction Rebellion T-shirt with a collection of XR posters and No Fracking signs. I am 84 so why not join my efforts in your area?

  3. Steve Smith

    I enjoy reading your articles Rosemary. You are a legend, keep up the good fight.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Late on Wednesday night, the federal and Victorian governments decided to extend five regional forest agreements that exempt the logging industry from conservation laws.

    Environmental groups immediately criticised the move, given the summer’s devastating bushfires will already have deforested large swathes and impacted wildlife.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/03/decision-to-renew-victorian-logging-agreements-criticised-after-summer-bushfires

    One in five of Australia’s biggest polluting sites actually increased their greenhouse gas emissions last year, above the government limit.

    Under the safeguard mechanism, companies that breach their limit have to buy carbon credits or pay a penalty. But the Australian Conservation Foundation found that 729,000 tonnes of emissions went unpunished.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/01/nearly-one-in-five-of-australias-big-polluters-breach-government-set-emissions-limits

    The New South Wales government has approved the extension of coalmining under the Woronora reservoir.

    It’s the first approval in two decades for coalmining directly beneath one of greater Sydney’s reservoirs, and environment groups say it could affect the quality of drinking water.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/31/fears-for-water-quality-after-nsw-allows-coalmining-extension-under-sydneys-worona-reservoir

    The annual Australia’s Environment report came out on Monday, finally confirming something we may have already seen coming.

    Unprecedented bushfires, record heat, record low river inflows, dry soil, low vegetation growth and the 40 new species that were added to the threatened species list meant that 2019 was the worst year since 2000.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/30/probably-the-worst-year-in-a-century-the-environmental-toll-of-2019

    land-clearing approvals in NSW increased 13-fold since the Coalition government changed laws in 2016, according to a secret report provided to the state cabinet.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/27/nsw-land-clearing-approvals-increased-13-fold-since-laws-relaxed-in-2016

    And that’s just the news from the last week. I despair

  5. RosemaryJ36

    It is not enough to feel sure you know what needs to be done. Action is essential!

  6. Kaye Lee

    The action we need to take has been set out in a new report by CliamteWorks called Decarbonisation Futures. It’s not too late. But will they listen? The next decade is crucial.

    “The current trajectory of global warming is above two degrees by 2050, an outcome which is expected to lead to large scale human migration, increased spread of infectious diseases, critical water shortages and huge biodiversity loss, including of the world’s coral reefs.”

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/report-maps-out-ways-to-reach-climate-targets-and-regenerate-economy-20200403-p54gwl.html

  7. Andrew Smith

    That response ‘They all do it!’ is the result of manipulative messaging (‘Pavlov’s dog’, pardon the pun) and dog whistling of democracy.

    Have posted before, but US ‘dog whistling’ expert Prof. Ian Hany-Lopez states that it’s not just about race or immigrants but has been applied to politics and government to confuse and have people disengage from politics to allow ideology and concurrent policies an untroubled path, i.e. conserve the status quo of intertia:

    ‘In Dog Whistle Politics, Ian Haney Lopez offers a sweeping account of how politicians and plutocrats deploy veiled racial appeals to persuade white voters to support policies that favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests. Dog whistle appeals generate middle-class enthusiasm for political candidates who promise to crack down on crime, curb undocumented immigration, and protect the heartland against Islamic infiltration, but ultimately vote to slash taxes for the rich, give corporations regulatory control over industry and financial markets, and aggressively curtail social services. White voters, convinced by powerful interests that minorities are their true enemies, fail to see the connection between the political agendas they support and the surging wealth inequality that takes an increasing toll on their lives. The tactic continues at full force, with the Republican Party using racial provocations to drum up enthusiasm for weakening unions and public pensions, defunding public schools, and opposing health care reform.’

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17847530-dog-whistle-politics

    On my wish list but you can watch him present well via YouTube.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Andrew, how very true. An apt description of the inadequate Coalition politicians we are lumbered with.

    I note that on the day the government announced a bail out for Qantas, Dave Sharma bought up big time.

    https://www.smh.com.au/national/sharma-s-bullish-buys-amid-a-bear-market-20200402-p54gju.html

    And let’s not mention Peter Dutton’s childcare centres.

    Peter Dutton insists he has never made money from a family trust linked to childcare centres owned by his wife, which opponents say put his eligibility to sit in parliament under a cloud.

    “My wife’s business is her business, I have never taken a dollar of dividend or distribution. I was very clear at the start that I would not take a dollar of distribution from that trust which she operates and I’ve been true to that.”

    https://www.sbs.com.au/news/dutton-denies-making-money-from-childcare

    Even when they do a bail out, you can be sure they are profiting from it.

  9. Uta Hannemann

    Rosemary, you say that action is essential.

    Yes, we have to demand from our politicians actions for a sustainable future!

    Maybe you’d like to have a look at this 85 year old’s post from today:

    untyuta.com/2020/04/05/my-thoughts-on-ww1-as-well-as-ww2-and-our-war-cabinet-to-fight-the-coronavirus/

  10. johno

    Or just plain ole GREED which has dominated the human psyche for centuries.

  11. Barry Thompson.

    Rosemary – where did you get the information that Angus Taylor owns 2000 hairdressing salons ?

  12. Barry Thompson.

    Thanks Kaye Lee. Does Rosemary know that ? If so why write as though it is fact ? or did I miss something?
    I know Taylor has more than a few bob to his name, but I didn’t think he had that sort of business acumen, in fact had any at all.

  13. Matters Not

    Re:

    when Angus Taylor owns 2000 hairdressing salons

    Yes that claim raised a smile upon reading but putting that side and moving to another level. When a numerical claim ends in a zero, there’s a one in ten chance that it’s correct. Two zeros – one in a hundred … and so on. You can do the sums with three zero endings as in above. As a rule-of thumb, the greater the number of zeros the less likelihood of validity – at least when it comes to unlikely claims.

    Because of social distancing, am expecting that some up-market hairdressing salons will soon be offering bespoke style cuts using Whipper Snippers with drying via leaf-blowers. All powered by lithium batteries of course.

    Have you heard the one about Taylor’s wife will run for Mayor of Sydney while still living outside Goulburn …

  14. RosemaryJ36

    Barry Thompson, Kaye Lee and Matters Not – Thank you for drawing attention to this error. Mea culpa for not checking my source. I have made an amendment to the original and – MN – thank you for highlighting the fact that the apparent purpose of Angus Taylor’s attempt to damage Clover Moore’s reputation was connected to his interest in his wire’s career. I also find it ridiculous that Dutton can claim that he derives no benefit from his wife’s business interests when they share a life together!

  15. RosemaryJ36

    The trouble with corruption among prominent people, when they have stepped over the line of transparency and integrity at least once, it becomes so much easier to accept innuendo as fact. I must check my sources more carefully in future! Thank MN. I must admit, it puzzles me that people from quite ordinary backgrounds – like Dutton being in the police force – can accrue extraordianary levels of wealth once they become politicians. Before her marriage in 1931, my mother was Personal Private Secretary to the Controller of the (UK) Stationery Office, which required a great deal of tact in dealing with MPs who wanted to see documents above their pay grade. It was absolutely verboten for her to accept a gift – so why are politicians allowed to do so?

  16. Matters Not

    RosemaryJ36 re:

    it puzzles me that people from quite ordinary backgrounds – like Dutton being in the police force – can accrue extraordinary levels of wealth once they become politicians

    While not an expert on Dutton and his dealings, there’s a few things I am aware of. When Dutton left the police force (lots of rumours as to why) he joined his (already successful) father in the construction industry. By all accounts, local builders (I live in the same geographic area) say the partnership did rather well. So one should entertain the reasonable possibility that he had a strong financial base before becoming a Member of Parliament. Further, when his father died he was a significant beneficiary of a rather health estate – thus adding significantly to his personal wealth. All legal and above board.

    Not suggesting that Dutton isn’t an opportunist and won’t ‘clip the ticket’ every chance he gets. When Sussan Ley was busted (lost her Cabinet position etc) for doing personal business while on official business, Dutton probably had a few nervous moments because he and his wife had travelled to Townsville (on the public purse) to investigate the suitability of a site for a new childcare business at about the same time. Technically, he was possibly within the rules but he wasn’t subject to close Opposition scrutiny because at the time, Ley’s political corpse was swinging in the breeze. And also, because all sides of the political fence are into the entitlement rort and certainly don’t want too much airing of the dirty linen.

    But make no mistake, the Opposition are moving the metaphorical heaven and earth to rid the Parliament of Dutton. And they will keep trying. A prized political scalp almost above all others – one would think – only a fraction below that of Morrison’s

  17. JudithW

    To say “they all do it” reminds me of my manager who said to me “everyone steals”. Spoke volumes about him. When politicians are guilty of corruption and collusion they set the bar very low for everyone else.

  18. Mrs Wobbly

    It is very sad that climate change and emissions reductions solutions In Australia are being mostly ignored by this so called government, climate change has taken a back seat in Australia for the profit margins of their wealthy mates, mining magnates and donors from the dying fossil fuel industry. What’s left of the sane world’s leadership and governance have and are moving away from fossil fuels and embarrassing renewable energy No need for common sense in Australia or the need for action on climate change, just install masters Murdoch’s helpful propaganda hymn sheets before the viewers of Australia ‘s main stream propaganda media, with more of the same again, no need for Australians to know the truth about the future of our planet or it’s Inhabitants for generations to come, any. That little gold coin is all that matters.

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