By Kyran O’Dwyer
It’s hard to know if this belongs in the category of ‘satire’ or ‘news’. Does modern Australian politics require a new category? ‘Surreal’? Or, perhaps, ‘Seriously, WTF’?
Back in October, the piece ‘GetUp! vs the IPA’ was written to underscore several matters. Government (and ministerial) incompetence, the politicisation of government agencies, the inequity of an electoral system that favours political parties to the detriment of those they are meant to represent, the ensuing voter distrust, the absence of any meaningful transparency and oversight, or possibility of redress.
Most of all, the need for change. Basic. Fundamental. Change.
At the time, the narrative evolved like this:
Abetz accused GetUp! of being an ‘Associated Entity’ of the ALP and demanded the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) investigate.
In an ‘allegedly’ unrelated matter, the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC), on instruction from Cash’s office, opened an investigation to get ten year old records about a payment to GetUp! by the Australian Workers Union (AWU), ostensibly to prove the payment was not properly authorised. Not that the payment was illegal, just that the decision wasn’t made legitimately or was incorrectly minuted. The ROC enlisted the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to conduct raids on the offices of the AWU to retrieve documents that were not required to be kept.
Presumably Cash, an ‘alleged’ lawyer, would know that, even if the search yielded evidence, any charges would be statute barred, ie out of time. If there was no prospect of a trial in a Court, she would be little more than a vexatious litigant, wouldn’t she?
“Vexatious litigation is legal action which is brought, regardless of its merits, solely to harass or subdue an adversary. It may take the form of a primary frivolous lawsuit or may be the repetitive, burdensome, and unwarranted filing of meritless motions in a matter which is otherwise a meritorious cause of action.”
With the benefit of hindsight, it seems obvious there was never any intention of bringing this to Court. Other than the court of public opinion, where the rules of evidence are dictated by MSM. Guilt by association, supported only by slur and innuendo, yelled from the rafters. Yadayadayada.
Apologies for the digression, back to the narrative.
Cash’s office tipped off the media about the raids. Cash then ‘allegedly’ misled Parliament.
‘Allegedly’, and ‘allegedly’ repeatedly. It’s a great word, allegedly.
The bloke standing beside her for most of the day, her senior advisor, ‘allegedly’ didn’t tell her what he had done. ‘Allegedly’ until a copious amount of excrement hit an oscillating device.
Cash then asked the AFP to investigate itself, the ROC, the FWO, her, and her department. ‘Allegedly’ in the pursuit of justice. Since then, Cash has refused to answer questions for fear of prejudicing the enquiry she started and, presumably, has already provided answers to.
Does that seem about right to you? Please feel free to offer corrections or make additions.
The sequel? It seems to go like this.
The mindblowing incompetence of the government, generally, is unchanged.
The incomparably incompetent Abetz found a new campaign. (We’ll get back to his AEC one a bit later). He turns 60 on Jan 25 and becomes, perhaps, the most compelling argument yet for reducing the retirement age to 50. His pursuit of the irrelevant has continued unabated. From Buzzfeed;
It is not Christmas time unless there is some battle waged in the War on Christmas, and this year, Abetz has tasked himself with discovering whether government departments are or are not saying happy Christmas or happy Ramadan in their annual emails.
In questions on notice filed in October, Abetz asked 85 difference government agencies the following:
“Please provide the messages (if any) sent to staff (on the most recent occasions) of Christmas/New Year, Easter and Ramadan by the Secretary of the Department or Agency Heads at the relevant time.”
As for the politicisation of government agencies, that farce continues unabated. Where is it up to? Thanks to Buzzfeed we now know that Mark Lee (FWO) sent messages to David De Garis (senior advisor to Cash) on the day, and De Garis told the media about the raids. He ‘allegedly’ did not tell Cash, even though he stood beside her when she was ‘allegedly’ grilled by the ‘alleged’ PM about the issue.
The rest of the article seems to suggest that the AFP, ROC, FWO and Cash’s office seem to be unable to conduct the most rudimentary of enquiry. Having welcomed the media attention when raids were being conducted, it seems media attention is no longer welcome.
As for the ‘players’:
Cash was promoted by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, adding jobs and innovation to her list of portfolio responsibilities, and removing the industrial relations portfolio from her brief.
De Garis has taken a job with the Australian Hotels Association, which made a $10mil deal with Cash in August to take 10,000 interns under the government’s PaTH program.
Lee was due to take up a job in Cash’s office but that has not yet happened.
SNAFU. The polite expansion of the acronym is ‘a confused or chaotic state; a mess’.
Well, it sort of went from SNAFU, to TARFUN, to FUBAR. For further explanation, see this.
‘Satire’? ‘News’? ‘Surreal’? Or ‘Seriously, WTF’?
Getting back to Abetz and his AEC enquiry. It has brought forward legislation about associated entities, political donations, all manner of things. Most popularly known as the anti-GetUp bill.
From recent news though, it seems the original heading, ‘GetUp! vs the IPA’, was, in fact, false, misleading and/or erroneous. Either that or the IPA have just read the article and agree with the premise. In any event, the weirdest of bedfellows has been created. The IPA, the government’s bastion of support, has rallied to the defence of GetUp. Therefore, it should have read ‘GetUp! AND the IPA’.
From The Guardian;
The changes, contained in the electoral funding and disclosure reform bill introduced by the government in December, would mean associated entities face more stringent reporting requirements, including disclosure of donations.
The executive director of the IPA, John Roskam, told Guardian Australia although he believed the IPA would not be affected by associated entities changes, the law may catch many organisations including civil society groups, professional organisations like the Australian Medical Association, the National Farmers Federation and even the churches.
Yeah, right. The IPA won’t be affected, but they are concerned about employer’s unions.
“My concern is it will cast a very wide net at anyone expressing a political opinion,” he said. “It’s potentially very dangerous.”
Roskam also queried why media organisations were exempt from the changes.
“If the concern is expression of political opinion, whether you are a media organisation or not should make no difference – it’s inconsistent,” he said.”
Perhaps the article should have been called “GetUp! and the IPA, Same same, but different”. As for political/foreign donations?
“Roskam warned the foreign donation ban is a “dangerous precedent” that could lead to calls to restricting all political donations in Australia. He labelled it “inconsistent” of the major parties to oppose foreign donations but not domestic ones.
Roskam believes a system of purely publicly-funded elections will benefit the major parties by “entrenching the position of the existing political parties and shutting out dissenting voices, whether from the left or right”.
He said the IPA would not be affected by the foreign donations ban because it did not receive them, with the exception of an international prize it won a few years ago for its work on climate change.”
The government position is, as always, as clear as mud. On the one hand;
The special minister of state, Mathias Cormann, has said that the bill aims “to ensure all organisations involved in relevant political expenditure and activity are subject to the same transparency, disclosure and reporting requirements.
He said the bill “clarified an ambiguity” about the meaning of associated entities operating for the benefit of a political party but said this did not amount to an extension of scope.”
And in the next sentence, the government says it’s only targeting legislation at GetUp!.
“GetUp! is plainly a political campaigning organisation engaged in political activity and incurring political expenditure,” Cormann said, adding it was “entirely appropriate” it be subject to the same disclosure requirements as other political actors.
Now we have the complexity of the mess playing out. Despite his protestations to the contrary, even Roskam can see that, by their hysterical targeting of GetUp!, this pack of fools expose all of their cronies to the same legislation.
As for the prospect of a Cash-less parliament, it looks bleak.
Hadgkiss has finally been replaced by Stephen McBurney. It will, presumably, see the ABCC ramp up its attack on unions while ignoring deaths on worksites, which have increased. Her involvement in the demise of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, the rampant abuse of working visa programs, the work (and die) for the dole scheme, PaTH internships. On and on and on it goes. Just search her name and watch the pages of stuff ups appear. She ignores parliamentary rules and convention, she ignores or frustrates FOI requests, she lies, she’s incompetent. And she’s not exactly on an interns pay and conditions.
What does our alleged PM do with such a disastrous minister? Promote her.
In the two months since the original post, this alleged government has descended from farce to abject stupidity. This alleged government has demonstrated, time and time again, that there is no point trying to reason or argue with them. Facts and evidence have no place in their world.
In deference to more learned writers, it appears the prospect of an election will not occur before September. Until then, we have two alternatives. Sit it out until then or get involved. In addition to GetUp!, there is Change.org, unions, community groups, refugee advocacy groups. All manner of associations representing all manner of interests.
The original intent of the article was to underscore several matters, as detailed at the start. The abysmal behaviour of the alleged government in the ensuing months haven’t altered the intent. They have merely added an urgency to the need for change.
Basic. Fundamental. Change.