Whilst everyone basks in the relief of not having to listen to Tony Abbott anymore, it is not yet time to stand down.
Malcolm Turnbull is easier on the ear but much more questionable on ethics.
Like Joe Hockey, Turnbull raised campaign funds through an organisation called the Wentworth Forum which gave members access to exclusive functions he attended for membership fees which ranged from $5500 to $55,000.
The long list of generous donors include Frank Lowy, Ros Packer, John Simons, and Matt Handbury.
During the 2007 election campaign, Turnbull announced that the then Government would contribute $10 million to the investigation of an untried Russian technology that aims to trigger rainfall from the atmosphere, even when there are no clouds. Literature suggests that the technology is based on bogus science. The Australian Rain Corporation presented research documents written in Russian, explained by a Russian researcher who spoke to local experts in Russian.
Although Turnbull claimed that Australian Rain Corporation is Australian-based, investigations have shown that it is in fact 75 per cent Swiss-owned. It was also revealed that a prominent stakeholder in the Australian Rain Corporation, Matt Handbury, is a nephew of Rupert Murdoch and a neighbour of Turnbull’s.
Tony Burke Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population made the following statement on 22nd June 2009:
There is an interesting organisation involved in what is described as ‘rainfall enhancement technology’—a company named the Australian Rain Corporation. Apparently they have decided to corporatise rain! The Australian Rain Corporation sought money and the National Water Commission commissioned an independent review of the technology that they were putting forward by a former senior CSIRO officer and professor of physical sciences and engineering from the ANU. The National Water Commission insisted that the Australian Rain Corporation give a presentation of this technology to a panel of physicists. They then provided it with the research papers and made the presentation in Russian. The independent review concluded: ‘There is no convincing evidence that the Atlant technology operates as believed by its proponents.’ But in the end the department recommended that the member for Wentworth provide them with $2 million for a trial, which was arguably a generous offering, given what had been said about the technology. What did the Leader of the Opposition, as a minister, do with a recommendation to give them $2 million? He wrote to the Prime Minister seeking a lazy $10 million for the Australian Rain Corporation. You have to ask: what would be the circumstances of taking a departmental recommendation for $2 million and turning it into $10 million? Why would the Leader of the Opposition have done that as a minister?
This is where we discover that an executive of the Australian Rain Corporation happened to be a next-door neighbour of the Leader of the Opposition. The same person, the same neighbour, was a member of his electorate fundraising committee, the Wentworth Forum, with membership costing a cool $5,000 to get yourself into the room. If you want to find deals for mates, there are stories of deals for mates and there are stories that rest very squarely with the Leader of the Opposition
An article on the ABC says: “Rainmaker Ian Searle, the father of cloud seeding in Australia for the Tasmanian Hydro scheme, has also expressed doubts, as has Israel’s internationally respected cloud physicist Professor Daniel Rosenfeld.”
“There is no single scientific paper, only the patent, and one can patent anything claiming it’s to do anything that he likes, as long as no one else has made the same claims before,” Professor Rosenfeld said.
“Mr Searle says all the literature he has seen on the technology shows it to be a bogus science.”
Why were we paying for research for a Swiss company? Why weren’t other research groups given a chance to compete for this grant? Why was the money allocated when the government was in caretaker mode? Why were they given five times what the department recommended?
No wonder they don’t want a federal ICAC.