As the Coalition sharpen their knives to destroy the life of another political opponent, it would be timely to reflect on some other recent episodes.
Starting with the obvious, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water and Resources and Northern Australia, Barnaby Joyce, impregnated a young staffer, created jobs for her in other offices, claimed for many nights spent in Canberra when Parliament wasn’t sitting, and kept this all a secret before the by-election forced because he never bothered checking his citizenship and so had been sitting in parliament illegally for 13 years. He is also under investigation regarding allegations of sexual harassment and a multitude of other stories abound now added to by the book he had time to write (whilst being an MP, going through a messy break-up and a campaign, becoming a new dad, and doing endless interviews) where he reveals he is/was a drunk and a womaniser. And that’s before we question any possible collusion in water theft.
And let’s not forget Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, Jamie Briggs, who resigned over allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving a female public servant during an official visit to Hong Kong in November 2015. He remained on the government benches until he was voted out in 2016.
Mal Brough moved to the backbench the same day as Briggs pending the completion of an investigation by the Australian Federal Police over the alleged copying of the diary of former speaker Peter Slipper – an act which a judge described as deliberately designed to bring down the government and to which he admitted on tv, yet the police found nothing untoward in that apparently. He chose not to contest the next election.
In 2014, Arthur Sinodinos stood aside from his role as Assistant Treasurer prior to giving evidence as a witness before New South Wales’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). During the enquiry Sinodinos advised he was unaware of a $74,000 donation made to the Liberal Party by Australian Water Holdings, despite being Deputy Chairman on a $200,000 salary and Treasurer of the Liberal Party. He is currently on sick leave.
Minister for Human Services, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Stuart Robert, was forced to resign for being in breach of ministerial standards because of an indirect financial stake in a company owned by a Liberal Party donor he helped in Beijing on a trip he claimed was private but which the Chinese government considered official. He and his wife were recipients of the Rolex watches handed out by Li Ruipeng, the chair of the Li Guancheng Investment Management Group, which they were later forced to return. Robert also had to appear before the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission for some very dubious involvement in local council elections. He still occupies a seat on the backbench.
Speaker Bronwyn Bishop was forced to resign over misuse of entitlements as was Health Minister Sussan Ley.
Former Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach was jailed in 2015 for stealing $1.5 million from the Liberal Party through falsified and inflated invoices and now the Victorian government has referred several MPs for investigation into whether the MPs knew, or ought to have known, they were approving inflated invoices.
Michaelia Cash has been called to testify into the illegal tipping off of the media about a raid on union headquarters and, after that, she faces another case brought by the union accusing her of using the AFP for political purposes.
And Peter Dutton is remaining very tight-lipped about the au pairs he let in contrary to his own department’s decisions and advice..
Then there are the people the Coalition have appointed to important roles.
Both the boss and the deputy in charge of Border Force were forced to leave for having affairs with junior staff and possibly getting a job for the girlfriend.
The head of the ABCC, Nigel Hadgkiss, had to resign because he was found guilty of breaching the Fair Work Act by deliberately giving out false information about right of entry rules for union officials.
The head of the Public Service Association, John Lloyd, announced his resignation just before he was found to have breached the code of conduct by sending government research and employee conditions to the IPA to aid their war against the very body he led.
Abbott-appointed Fair Work Commissioner Michael Lawler did likewise, resigning just as the report into his questionable claim for months of sick leave was handed down.
Lawler’s partner, Kathy Jackson, described as a hero by the Coalition, awaits criminal trial on multiple charges of fraud which she has already been found guilty of in a civil court.
If we want to talk staff turnover, almost half of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s senior executive service officers left between July 2015 and July 2017. Likewise the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority which had 198 staff at the end of June 2016. Since Barnaby insisted they uproot their families and move to Armidale, at least 110 of its employees have departed, including 33 regulatory scientists. Michaelia Cash has lost so many staff members they are considering installing a revolving door.
We have seen how much the Coalition enjoy going for the jugular – Peter Slipper, Craig Thomson, Sam Dastyari for examples. But the public assassination of Emma Husar before any findings from the investigation is a new low, even for them. The allegations pale in comparison to the above list and should have been dealt with through workplace mediation as happens everywhere else. She is a new backbencher and should have been counselled if there were problems.
Alice Workman should realise how she has been used. I hope she learns from it.
The Labor Party hierarchy have handled this abysmally.