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Day to Day Politics: Smorgasbord of political scandal, but who gives a ****?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

One of the more troublesome aspects of Australian political democracy for me is the amount of scandal that seems to come and go. They come with the smell of reprehensible corruption and go with sleight of hand manipulation.

Investigations, enquiries or whatever seem to take forever and get lost in the essence of time. Even AFP investigations are perceived to be politically tainted. They either support the government or they are hopeless at their job.

James Ashby is a case in point. He admitted on national television that he had illegally sought to steal the diary of the then Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper, yet he faced no charges. In my view, the whole sordid affair required a Royal Commission because one party, the Liberals, were actively engaged in perverting the course of justice by trying to bring down the Speaker and an elected government.

The same James Ashby is now Chief of Staff to Pauline Hanson. Work that out.

More recently we have heard from the lips of Tony Abbott’s former Chief of Staff admit that when Julia Gillard was Prime Minister the Coalition’s attack on a Carbon Tax had little to do with the environment, in fact, nothing to do with it but was basically just brutal retail politics. In other words, a scare campaign. Nothing more and nothing less. In admitting it, they have at least put the historical record straight.

It went on for years with Abbott perpetuating an enormous lie. The public fell for it hook line and sinker, but a lot of them would still welcome Abbott back as Prime Minister.

Together with the photos of Coalition members laughing in a circle when the tax was repealed, and the more recent one of Morrison brandishing a lump of coal, will remind us of the stupidity of their actions in perpetuity.

In the absence of a law forbidding reprehensible inanity, the people are left to judge the absurdity of their actions.

On top of this, we also learned that our involvement in the Iraq war was more a public relations exercise about holding hands with the US than fighting a war. Fairfax media uncovered a comprehensive report which is an assessment of our involvement in the war.

The 572 page declassified report with 500 redactions was written between 2008 and 2011 by Dr Albert Palazzo from Defence’s Directorate of Army Research and Analysis.

The report concludes that Howard joined US president George W. Bush in invading Iraq solely to strengthen Australia’s alliance with the US. Howard’s – and later Kevin Rudd’s – claims of enforcing UN resolutions, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism, even rebuilding Iraq after the invasion, are dismissed as ”mandatory rhetoric.”

Howard and Sir Peter, facing domestic political pressure, ensured that Australian lives were exposed to as little risk as possible. They knew that Australian deaths would be unpalatable at home.

The result was a contribution that was of only modest military use and, in many cases, made little sense. Politically, delivering the right force was “secondary to the vital requirement of it just being there” but it led some American military officers to grumble that Australia was providing “a series of headquarters.” The war was a lie built on a lie. Why was Australia there? Well, to support the bigger lie that they had weapons of mass destruction.

And I cannot finish without mentioning the biggest cover-up in Australian political history. How we became involved in Vietnam. Sir Robert Menzies had said that he had received a letter from South Vietnamese government to join the war.

What Menzies did not say was that his government had approached the United States requesting such an invitation. When the cabinet papers were revealed 30 years later no letter was mentioned or found.

500 young men lost their lives and 3129 were injured.

The question, of course, is how they get away with it. Another war that we should never have been involved with. It was none of our business. We all read about the corruption that exists. The political donations in return for favours.

The expenses scandals seemly have no end with Julie Bishop taking her partner (a wealthy man by all accounts) around the world with him and the taxpayer paying his expenses. Despite repeated warnings, politicians don’t seem to give a stuff and eat at the smorgasbord of false expenses as often as they can.

There seems no end to it. We know what is needed but politicians are loath to investigate themselves. Yes, we need a national ICAC. Bill Shorten is committed but Turnbull remains silent. No wonder, if Labor is fair dinkum then it needs to be one with teeth and the powers necessary to wipe out political corruption whenever it raises its head.

Other scandals off the top of my head and in no particular order were the Petrov affair, the Morosi affair, Bjelkemander, the 1975 Constitutional crisis, Tampa, Muhamed Haneef, AWB oil for wheat, pink batts, Choppergate, Craig Thompson, Eddie Obeid, and Children Overboard.

You can currently toss into the fire of political scandal suggestions that Barnaby Joyce has acted inappropriately with regard to the sale of water and other things. And of course the behaviour of Michaelia Cash at the Senate Estimates committee meetings.

Now, of course, political scandals are part and parcel of the Australian political landscape but if we live in a so-called enlightened society one has to ask why. Why do politicians allow themselves to become trapped in a mire of scandal? Generally, it’s because they can’t differentiate between good and bad values, or they allow money, power and ideology to corrupt them.

It’s why something needs to be done to improve the quality of the people we select to represent us.

My thought for the day

“Never in the history of this nation have so many people been elected to serve us, but instead serve themselves.”


28 comments

  1. john ocallaghan

    Time to un pack the pitchforks and storm the citadel me thinks, that’s what would happen in a lot of other countries.
    Bob Hawke was asked years ago what he thought was the biggest problem Australia faced, and he replied… Apathy, and i reckon he was spot on!

  2. Joseph Carli

    After listening to ABC radio this morning with the super young start-up “CEO”..”There’s just myself and my alter-ego..and I’m in charge of both!” … I am thinking of starting a “Start-Up” of my own and applying for funding..I am thinking of creating a Start-Up for a new way of laying bricks…: a brickie Start-up … you see..instead of laying the bricks face down, I…am going to develope a new method of “flipping” the bricks over and laying them FACE UP!…waddyareckon??

    Gotta be a goer!

  3. Kaye Lee

    You mention many of the big ones, John, Sadly, there are so many more.

    The increase in secrecy and the decline in accountability facilitates this demise.

    I agree about the quality of people we elect. As we have too often seen, preselections are gifts to bestow on the party faithful rather than earned by the most meritorious.

    For the Coalition parties to say that Peter Dutton, Michaelia Cash and Barnaby Joyce are “very effective operator[s]” just shows how low we have sunk.

    The Coalition’s campaign strategy is not to convince us that their policies are better, but rather to assassinate the character of the Opposition leader through rumour and innuendo.

    I guffawed as I heard Malcolm say Bill Shorten “doesn’t have a fair dinkum bone in him”. Who here thinks Malcolm ever uses the phrase fair dinkum?

    My concern about a federal ICAC is that it will be restricted to investigating “corruption” which will allow the dubious expense claims, the nepotism and cronyism, the political donations and influence of lobbyists, to continue as they are all “within the rules”, just like corporate tax avoidance is “within the rules”.

    If we are to have a National Integrity Commission, someone will have to remind them what integrity means.

    And I agree that apathy is one of our greatest problems. If people knew, or remembered, the truth, they would surely demand better.

  4. Keitha Granville

    There must be a new code for politicians, there must! No lies, no corruption, no scandal – or else their seat is forfeit.
    Why can’t we have this ? They are our employees, surely we have the right to ask for truth, integrity and total transparency.

  5. Terry2

    I hear that Peter Dutton has announced – on Ray Hadley’s 2GB radio show, where else – that following the initial success of the whiteboard Ministerial Shrouding Devices, the government will now be ordering a further 1200 such devices for the use of coalition ministers, parliamentarians and staffers as they move around parliament house : some will be self-drive and some driverless to allow security staff to get on with their jobs.

    Labor Senator Kim Carr has said of this initiative that whilst Labor would not be adopting these devices he does agree that coalition members wishing to travel around parliament house incognito can be a win-win for the community. After all said Senator Carr who wants to see Michaelia Cash or James Paterson leering out of their TV screens when they are trying to eat their breakfast.

    Mr Dutton has rejected a suggestion – thought to have come from Senator Carr – that coalitions ministers and staffers should be required to adopt disposable paper burqas for identity concealment purposes during working hours. 🙂

  6. Wam

    What an ending, Lord John, absolutely clear, except we elect what the party selects. So your suggestion to let the complainers join the parties to effect an improvement, in understood.

    The rabbott said, in 2010, gillard’s government was ‘selected’ by oakeschott and windsor not elected. Arguably, the rabbott and gillard were selected whilst the independents were elected?

    Beauty keitha we find such virtuous behaviour in the church??

    We are weird mob you list those that are guilty and are innocently forgotten the pink batts pair are innocent and guiltily remembered.

    The labor debt may be half the lnp but it takes all the negativity.

    The lnp believe in partial exposure to support their interest whilst labor believes in exposing themselves to support the lnp interests.

    In Tassie labor efforts generated millions for a smooth leader of an inept party.
    Keitha that is in the church?

  7. Diane Larsen

    Unfortunately Abbott understood that a time poor and politically under educated electorate is easily manipulated by headlines in a favourable news rag 30 second grabs on the nightly news and three or four word slogans repeated continually until believed.
    Apathy is a symptom of undereducation of our political system, povety of time and money and the imense challenges many face just to survive in this current environment so many consider voting a chore and not the gift that can change circumstances if used wisely, the senate is a great example of lazy voting allowing people with as little as 77 votes to make decisions that can affect millions of lives and dollars, we have to wake up and change the system if we expect better representation

  8. babyjewels10

    Sadly, the quality of Australian voters is very low. Low IQ, low education, low morals and ethics. THIS is the reason we have this mess and it’s continuing – ie Tasmania, who voted slackening gun laws (gobsmackingly) over ditching poker machines and all their associated corruption, addiction and misery…

  9. helvityni

    LOL Joe Carli, a new method of laying bricks…the Drum had one of those ‘me and my alter-ego’ types as a guest…boooring…

    Kaye Lee, I think this is the worst lot of ‘clever operators’ in Canberra, what’s the matter with Barnaby…and the baby? It’s getting sillier and sillier, Michaelia is getting shriller by the day, and according to Dutton, it’s all Labor’s fault for asking hard questions…and all Mal can do …to bully…

  10. Roswell

    I’ll know the country is officially stupid if the government gets rolled in the SA election.

  11. diannaart

    Roswell

    Completely agree.

  12. helvityni

    babyjewels10, and here I was dreaming that the Tasmanian Labor girl ,Rebecca West, is our Jacinda Ardren (?) in the making…

  13. Ross

    Federal politicians are ”servants of the people” and rely on the public purse for their salary and benefits.
    Why not have Centrelink administer politicians so called benefits under the same rules that all Centrelink customers’ benefits are assessed. Have politicians live by their own legislative actions the same as everyone else.
    Can you imagine the howls of outrage from Canberra.

  14. ajogrady

    The political campaign by the poker machine lobby in Tasmania would be tax deductible, therefore we all paid for it. It would also not be considered a political donation as no monies were actually given to the Liberals for this purpose directly. Australia has had a few industry lead political campaigns with big budgets get the result Industry wanted. The political game is heavily skewed against Labor and working people. A lot has to change before Australia can say it is the country of “the fair go”.

  15. Freethinker

    ajogrady, in Tasmania the working people voted against the ALP and The Greens. The white collar public servants, worker in the hospitals and emergency services voted for the ALP.
    Public servants detest the arrogance of the Liberal politicians.
    Doctors claimed that, quote: “Seventy to 80 people are dying from bed block alone, in one hospital because of government underfunding.”
    but people regard this not a priority, poker machines and guns are more important.
    A document is here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3671449-Joint-Statement-on-Hospitals.html

  16. Roswell

    I thought the same thing, helvityni.

    Maybe Tasmania isn’t ready for someone progressive.

    What’s next? Rounding up Aborigines?

  17. Freethinker

    RoswellMarch 4, 2018 at 11:57 am
    …………………………………………………..
    What’s next? Rounding up Aborigines?
    Perhaps, but for sure will be more logging, specially in the Tarkine and most probably a wood chip terminal down soth in Dover to ruin the area and logging more as well.

  18. Wam

    Spot on Helvityni she will be great. Sad that the cash for pokies is so strong but 4 years of chipping at the liberals and thepokies may suffice for 2222!!!
    ps loved the end of insiders with the pollie taking the rabbott’s suppository through the anals of history.

  19. guest

    Kaye Lee,

    You say: “The Coalition’s campaign strategy is not to convince us that their policies are better, but rather to assassinate the character of the opposition leader through rumour and innuendo.”

    Quite right, Kaye. We see it in Cash’s hideous out burst. And in a more measured way by the ponderous deliberations by Paul Kelly on Shorten and the Adani mine (“Shorten shown up as an opportunist too smart by half’, WE Australian) He says,”Shorten’s character as an opportunist has rarely been so embarrassingly exposed.”

    And what is that ‘opportunist’ moment? Why, Bill is moving more and more towards opposing the Adani mine if he wins the next election.

    So we have Australian Conservation Foundation director Geoff Cousins showing Shorten the Great Barrier Reef and the proposed Adani mine area. Bill is being persuaded.

    Kelly tells us:”Political opponents are laying with fire. This issue has consequences for the viability of regulatory approvals, foreign investment, the coal industry and regional Queensland’s economic outlook.” And of course he later tells us how coal will lift thousands of Indians out of poverty, although how, exactly, he does not say.

    In other words, Oz needs Adani, so Bill had best not say anything, but just let Adani die from lack of funding.

    So Kelly has Frydenberg telling us that the deal is done and cannot be revoked without dire consequences. Anyway, the Adani mine is far from the Reef.

    And Canavan tells us that the time is right to cash in on top dollars for coal (it is all about the money). So there are other players lining up to take advantage of the Galilee Basin.

    As for the actual role of coal and Climate Change, Kelly is rather vague. He says: “The mine is a long way from he Great Barrier Rreef. Yet arguments about its alleged proximity to the Reef are irrelevant in climate change terms since to the extent emissions are corroding the Reef that is a universal, not a local, phenomenon.”

    That seems to me to be the real problem with Kelly’s argument. He seems to be saying that the mine will not affect the Reef, even though the transport of the coal and its loading is a potential health and environmental hazard. Kelly seems to think Climate Change is something caused out there by someone else, not coal miners in Oz.

    He does not seem concerned that Adani seeks to gain funding for the railway line and for an airport. Nor is he aware of the Adani’s poor credibility universally and its lack of financial support. He seems to agree with Frydenberg that the deal cannot be revoked and is worried about the consequences of no mine.

    He says: “…the killing of Adani…will bring progressive and green momentum to its zenith. On display will be its moral power, its ability to smash through government and court approvals, its capture of the financial sector and its delivery of a decisive blow to the once-strong pro-development, pro-coal ethos.”

    “Pro-coal ethos”? What is so embarrassing here is not Bill’s epiphany over Adani coal, but Kelly ideological ignorance about the nature of Climate Change and the burning of fossil fuels. Kelly seems to place more credence on some legal agreement about some unlikely mine than he gives to the tangible evidence of the effects of cooking the planet. Kelly is lost in Cloud Cuckoo Land. Embarrassing.

  20. Kaye Lee

    It’s not only Kelly. Katherine Murphy at the Guardian said “Labor’s fence-sitting on Adani has become a double backflip” and “To describe [Cousins’] public calling out of Shorten as a flip-flopper on Adani as bold doesn’t really do it justice. Nuclear is more like it.”

    I think Shorten has chosen his words very carefully because there is actually a way they can legally revoke the approval if there is new evidence of environmental concerns. Part of the point of his trip was to view the damage to the Reef as these repeated bleaching events could be considered new evidence of the sensitivity of the reef to GHG emissions.

    As Lenore Taylor pointed out today, if they said unequivocally that they would do that now then they might be sued for scaring off possible financiers. I know there aren’t any lining up, but you don’t want to give Adani any ammunition.

  21. Freethinker

    IMO Albanese was more clear regarding the environment issues when he said: the Adani project had already secured the required environmental approvals “not once, but twice. It was approved firstly and then they made a decision that what they would need to do is to re-examine it in light of the potential impacts on the Great Barrier Reef and again it was approved”.
    Labor should not single out existing projects, like the Adani coalmine, that have already gone through approval processes “and then retrospectively change existing laws, which would have ramifications across the board”.

  22. win jeavons

    Something needs to be done to improve the quality of people we select to represent us. That is it , entirely. We pay ( what say do we, the people have?) far too much , so get the greedy, who pursue the pot of gold, while we get the cold shower, and then push legitimate expenses far beyond reason, and retire on incomes the rest of us will never even dream of. Then they lie, and the other greedy sector, finances and votes for them. We need a totally new system , fast!

  23. guest

    Kaye Lee, thank you for your response. I am aware that Shorten is ‘flip-flopping’. Shorten and Labor are wedged by the notion that Adarni will provide 10,000 jobs – not confirmed. As well, there is the moral issue that Adarni will raise thousands of Indians out of poverty – maybe (there are already programs involving solar and special loans with the same aim – without coal).

    Consequently Shorten is accused of not being on the side of mine workers and at the same time is anti-business. Spin can go in any direction. So he is accused of merely seeking to gain votes from the Greens. This is part the great Oz parochialism.

    What amazes me is that the project has been given permission on the basis of a number of environmental matters, yet still the mine would have access to umpteen litres of water in a “dry and dusty part of Queensland”, as Frydenberg describes it.

    Then there is the whole matter of Climate Change. The court decision is based on a business model, giving approval, even when there are many, many critics who say the Adarni mine will not go ahead and there are many things which negate Adarni’s credibility. Shorten has pointed out that the Adarni mine ‘dumbs down’ the whole Climate Change debate. And in The Australian newspaper Graham Lloyd has been repeating long debunked nonsense about climate change and the burning of fossil fuels (for balance, he says). He needs to look at the Reef!

    Kelly, from the same stable as Lloyd, avoids mentioning Climate Change very much. No doubt he admonishes climate change warriors as warmists, or enemies of business – but he himself, with regard to business and possible loss of investment, etc, is an alarmist.

    So it is disappointing to see other journalists, such as Murphy writing like a disciple of Kelly, but with a little less spin. And of course Cousins wants Shorten to make up his mind in order to have Bill on the side of the environmentalists, boosting Cousins’ stance.

    It is also disappointing that the claim that Adarni will provide 10,000 jobs and raise thousands out of poverty despite the science of climate change which denies those neo-liberal claims when what they are really doing is cooking the planet.

    So Freethinker can dictate about which projects can be attacked, but the plain fact is that the people of Oz have been conned by the supporters of Adarni, with more waiting in the wings.

  24. Freethinker

    guest March 4, 2018 at 6:23 pm
    So Freethinker can dictate about which projects can be attacked, but the plain fact is that the people of Oz have been conned by the supporters of Adarni, with more waiting in the wings.

    guest, I am confused with your comment: Freethinker can dictate……………

    I just commented on Albo statements, that it is all.
    Regarding Adani, I am opposing it in the same way that I am opposing any activity that can damage the ecosystem.
    People conned? yes thousands of them but there are more that do not care less as long as they can get a dollar out of it regardless the consequences.

  25. guest

    Freethinker, you said: “Labor should not single out existing projects, like the Adarni coalmine, that have already gone through approval processes…” “…should not…”?

    The Adarni mine has been approved by a court decision, What has been approved is the extraction and transport of the coal out of Oz. What the court cannot do, is to rule about what Adarni does with the coal in India. And the plain fact is that it will burn it, 64m tonnes per year! And it will have no bad effects on anything?

    So what we get is 10,000 fake jobs in mining and the loss of 70,000 jobs in tourism because Adarni, with our help, will be cooking the planet.

    I think there is every reason to protest, when a greedy mining company sets out to go against Climate science for selfish gain, especially when it is a company with no credibility.

  26. Freethinker

    guest March 4, 2018 at 7:18 pm
    Freethinker, you said: “Labor should not single out existing projects, like the Adarni coalmine, that have already gone through approval processes…” “…should not…”?

    No guest, I did not said that, I quoted Albanese and said that IMO he was more clear and what I was try to say was in comparison with Shorten position.

    The same problem at small scale between money for short time and tourism it is happen not in Tasmania with the propose to put a wood chip terminal at Dover which I also oppose.
    Currently we have a huge environment issue here in Tasmania with the salmon and pollution of the sea bed.
    I oppose all those but unfortunately the Tasmanian people have spoken and not only voted again the Liberals but also stopped supporting the Greens.

    Yes we can protest, people including Bob Brown and others put their freedom on the line but we need thousands of people marching in the street of all capitals cities to make a change.

  27. townsvilleblog

    It seems the greatest enemy of political activism is “apathy” then the L’NP followed by the right wing of the Labor Party.

  28. jacsprat62

    With all due respect …. (and I have had to repeat this so many times over the course of the past few days)

    I’m Tasmanian …. We found out about the softening of gun laws at the same time that everybody else in the nation found out. Friday 2nd of March … Election Eve!!!

    In Tasmania there are media black outs prior to an Election. I found out about gun laws whilst eating my breakfast … via a mainland media platform!!

    It is estimated that 50000 people had voted prior to the Election (for various reasons). Did they know? NO they didn’t. And I am pretty certain that many that voted last Saturday were oblivious also! Probably many still are!

    Could this have been a game changer …. IMO >>> Yes!

    Also …. Rebecca White … Not Rebecca West!

    There are so many factors that went into what happened during this election and let me tell you …. I have never witnessed what we experienced during the campaign. It was wall to wall LIB saturation on every media platform … billboard size corflutes/banners …. Federal Group/Greg Farrell (Sydney) threw millions at this. Some suggestions 5million.

    So yep I am pretty over witnessing the revolting drivel that has outpoured towards Tasmania over the past 3 days!!!

    Not something that I would do towards another state election without knowing the political environment and all the relevant info surrounding it.

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