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Lawmakers or lawbreakers?

The Readers Digest list of the 50 most trusted professions in Australia ranks lawyers at 39 and politicians at 49 just scraping in in front of door-to-door salespeople and two places behind call centre staff.

Considering these are the people who make, and prosecute, our laws, this is a sad indictment.

The record of the Abbott government ministers with regard to the law makes one wonder if they may just consider themselves above it all.

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinis is continuing to be mentioned at ICAC.  Not only was he involved in shady dealings when at Australian Water Holdings, he is now implicated in emails (that his lawyers tried to have suppressed) from chief fund-raiser of the NSW Liberal Party Paul Nicolaou to Peta Credlin.  As Sinodinis was Finance Director (2009 to 2011) and President (since 2011) for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party, it is hard to believe he knew nothing of the laundering of donations through the Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation.

Credlin and Loughnane appear to be in on the act, and Bronwyn Bishop and Tony Abbott have also been named, the former for redirecting funding through her Dame Pattie Menzies Foundation Trust and the latter for his association with Lindsay Partridge the MD of Brickworks who were advocating for the repeal of the carbon tax.

In May, the SMH published an article stating that

“Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is probing Liberal fund-raising bodies such as the Millennium Forum and questioning their influence on political favours in NSW.

Mr Hockey offers access to one of the country’s highest political offices in return for annual payments.

The donors are members of the North Sydney Forum, a campaign fundraising body run by Mr Hockey’s North Sydney Federal Electoral Conference (FEC). In return for annual fees of up to $22,000, members are rewarded with “VIP” meetings with Mr Hockey, often in private boardrooms.”

Members of the forum include National Australia Bank as well as the influential Financial Services Council, whose chief executive is former NSW Liberal leader John Brogden.  Both these groups have benefitted from the changes to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws.

The chairman of the North Sydney Forum is John Hart, who is also the chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia – a hospitality industry lobby group whose members stand to benefit from a government-ordered Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act that is expected to examine the issue of penalty rates.

Mr Hart also sits on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council.

When asked if there should be a federal ICAC, Mr Abbott said that he thought that Canberra had a “pretty clean polity”.

Despite accepting huge donations from bodies with obvious vested interests and loudly articulated demands – mining companies, property developers, financial institutions, hotel and gambling bodies, hospitality industry – Tony Abbott said

“The thing is that we’re going to keep the lobbyists out [of politics]. And the problem that ICAC is exposing is a problem of lobbying, essentially its influence peddling . . . and we’re going to make sure that that has no place whatsoever federally.”

Last night’s edition of 60 minutes showed Mal Brough, by his own admission, directed the stealing of a copy of Peter Slipper’s diary.  James Ashby also stated he was offered employment and legal costs by Christopher Pyne who has always denied any knowledge or involvement.  And now, boy wonder Wyatt Roy is dragged into the fray.  Somebody is/has been fibbing.

It would be very interesting to know who filed the complaint with the Australian Federal Police after Mal Brough went through Slipper’s diary and when the complaint was filed.  There has been some suggestion that is was ex-defender of bigots, Attorney-General George Brandis.

When faced with action in the International Court over Alexander Downer’s bugging of the East Timor Parliamentary offices to gain confidential trade information for a subsequent employer, Brandis reacted by raiding the offices of the lawyer for East Timor, confiscating the evidence and the passport of the key witness.

If laws get in the way, bypass them or abolish them.

In June, the court upheld a challenge to the National School Chaplaincy Program, saying providing funding directly to chaplaincy organisations was constitutionally invalid.  To get around that, the federal government will give a quarter of a billion to the states, insisting they must employ only religious chaplains.

Despite 72 per cent of Australians wanting same-sex marriage legalised, one of Brandis’ first acts was to challenge, and overturn, the ACT’s recently passed same-sex marriage laws.  Why?  Because he could is all I can come up with.

I am sure Corey Bernardi and Kevin Andrews were demanding this ‘depravity’ be abolished.

A poll in 2009 showed that 85 per cent of the country is in favour of voluntary euthanasia but that will never happen while Kevin Andrews has a driving seat in the Star Chamber.

In 1997, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz were members of the Coalition’s fundamentalist Christian faction, the Lyons Forum, who were successful in overturning the Northern Territory’s historic voluntary euthanasia law.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the recently decorated compassionate Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop also has an affinity with the law.  Before we were paying for her Armani suits she was busy representing CSR (amongst other “dodgy” corporate clients) famously asking the court “why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”

Our Environment Minister Greg Hunt has overseen the roll back of environmental protection laws to facilitate his approval of coal mining.

The Federal Government’s handover of environmental approval powers to the states for development projects will wind back 30 years of legal protection for the environment and put at risk Australia’s World Heritage areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.

At the same time, state governments are seeking to ‘fast track’ major developments, such as coal mine and coal seam gas projects, reducing public participation and removing legal rights of local communities to mount legal challenges.

This is a crime that will certainly saddle our children with perhaps insurmountable problems.

And in perhaps the most heinous example of disregard for the law, morality, justice and humanity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is currently considering a submission calling for an investigation into Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.  The submission was officially accepted by the ICC on May 19, 2014, and it names Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott.  Similar complaints have been lodged with the United Nations.  Let’s hope they can compel our government to accept their legal obligations even if they are bereft of ethics.

hague

27 comments

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  1. Richard

    I sincerely hope these criminals are prosecuted for ‘Crimes against Humanity’. What an obscenity of a government!

  2. stephengb2014

    Kaye Lee
    Yet another great article, pity we have come to this state of affairs, why is it that the opposition does not demand the GG (Queen) disolve parliament!

  3. mysay

    why indeed ,this government gets worse every day ,It really does begger belief
    They are scare mongering over the deaths from the terrorists,
    All the while many asylum seekers are dying in our own back yard, from the cruel and inhumane treatment from this government.
    KICK THIS MOB OUT NOT FIT TO GOVERN

  4. stephentardrew

    Politicians at 49 tells us that the general population does not trust them and, in a way, have become inured to their deceits. Choice between two not so savory options depends upon your particular prejudice. It would seem that dishonest politics has become the expected thing and people are no longer that surprised by corruption. There is definitely a need for a federal ICAC. Don’t expect miracles from either party.

    The voices on this site are definitely disgusted by the blatant dishonesty of the LNP yet have well founded criticisms of Labor. We all know there is a problem however innovative solutions are required that empower the public to feel they can trust the veracity of the claims and promises peddled by politicians.

    Some form of public committee of accountability headed by senior members of the Judiciary with a negotiated set of guiding principles free from party political prejudice would be interesting. It is time for a committee that is not beholden to either political party which includes a substantial element of public input.

  5. cowper133

    I think you have eloquently settled the question Kaye! There seems little doubt that the LNP government are quite expert at flouting the law and if the laws prove difficult, well, they’ll just change them! We are supposed to sit back and watch them wreck the country and all we’ve held dear such as a fair go for all!
    Since Abbott rose to the position of Opposition Leader and then PM we have heard nothing but lies and slogans,We’ve also heard about the rorts sickening as they are and their explanations that it’s a grey area. Nothing grey about attending a mates wedding and it’s certainly not something the taxpayers should be paying for nor should we pay for the PM’s photo ops & “volunteer” work. An insult to the true volunteers that he is “paid” so handsomely.
    Thanks for your constant reminders of what this govt has done, is doing and plans to do!

  6. John Lord

    When it’s all collated together it makes for a damming indictment of a born to rule government.

  7. corvus boreus

    I have a suspicion that some the current federal cabinet are binging to unhinging on Columbian marching powder.
    They lie so easily, love to high-fly, and giggle like arrogant prats during supposedly serious sittings.
    Cocaine also makes people manifest behavior that mimics narcissistic socio-pathy, a phrase oft touted regarding some folkses in our currant guvment.
    I strongly believe we would be much better served as a nation by our elected representatives if all our federal members were subject to a thorough investigation into possible corruption or impropriety, and subjected to mandatory drug/alco testing before each session.
    P.s., Asbestos Julie’s jaw-dropper; ‘why should you be able to jump the cue just cause you’re dying?’ makes me feel a little better that she’s the nation’s foreign minister, at least she isn’t the admitting triage nurse at an emergency ward.
    Love your work, Kaye Lee.

  8. Lee

    I wish Neil of Sydney was here to provide act 2 of the entertainment.

  9. corvus boreus

    Lee,
    Type it 3 times.

  10. stephentardrew

    Agreed John but where are the forces of light when there is so much darkness? The rest of the media seem to be living in a bubble of complicity while minimizing the issues. When I come to this site it’s like living on another planet.

  11. Ana Milosevic

    I hope we don’t wake-up one morning and realise that it is bit to late for ordinary Australian
    to change this government. We are being taken in the WRONG direction from which is very difficult
    to recover.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Prime Minster Tony Abbott has lashed out at a journalist who suggested the NSW government was corrupt during a press conference following the shock resignation of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell.

    The journalist, believed to be Nicola Berkovic, a reporter for The Australian, asked: “Prime minister, do you trust this government – the state government – which is proving to be corrupt, to deliver your major infrastructure plans?”

    Abbott reacted angrily to the question, lecturing the woman who asked it and demanding that she “withdraw” the question.

    “That is an entirely unjustified smear,” said Abbott.

    “Let me not mince my words, madam, an entirely unjustified smear and frankly, I think you should withdraw that and apologise because there is no evidence whatsoever for that.”

    In an odd reversal of roles the PM then challenged the reporter to produce evidence to support her claim.

    Journalist Stephen Mayne questioned the PM’s aggressive response on Twitter.

    “What on earth is Tony Abbott doing going the knuckle like that against a female reporter in Western Sydney? Stop morally lecturing the media,” he wrote.

    Veteran commentator Mike Carlton said Mr Abbott had bullied the reporter.

    “Abbott’s bullying of a woman journalist – “Madam” – is par for the course. What an oaf he is,” Mr Carlton posted.

    Mr Abbott then said that “we need to have decent standards in this country. We need to have decent standards from the media, if I may say so as well as decent standards from politicians.”

    Watch Tony’s face in the following video to see the real Tony. He does NOT like to be questioned, especially by a woman. I’d like to see his answer now that 9 Coalition state MPs have either resigned or stood down, Sinodinis is looking worse by the day, and Credlin has been named. The finger has been well and truly pointed at political slush funds and ministers giving access for donations.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yd6Tx67LMA

  13. mars08

    stephentardrew:

    Politicians at 49 tells us that the general population does not trust them and, in a way, have become inured to their deceits. Choice between two not so savory options depends upon your particular prejudice…

    Interesting thought that…

    Hmmm. How does corruption and cronyism impact my life? How do politician’s lies disadvantage the average person going about their daily business? How does “dirty money” affect most employed, healthy, independent Australians?

    While not a day goes by where I’m not outraged by government injustice and cruelty… but the vast majority of people around me simply acknowledge that “they’re all bloody crooks” and move on to other distractions. Most of them will never be personally disadvantaged (in a big way) by the actions of dishonest politicians. They acknowledge that the system is dodgy, but it’s not something that’s uppermost in their minds.

    I often envy them…

  14. Kaye Lee

    mars08,

    I know what you mean. I have had a passing interest in politics all my life – passionate about some things, easy to ignore most things. From the time that it looked like Tony Abbott may become Prime Minister it has become an imperative to do something about it. I occasionally have a couple of days away with my girlfriends which is a welcome break but the risk to my country (would it be melodramatic to say the world) that Tony Abbott presents compels me to continue to protest by whatever means are available to me.

  15. stephentardrew

    Jeffrey Robinson on ABC News said he has completed a review of the judiciary internationally and claims that all governments influence the judiciary to bring down decisions in favor of their interests. The US is, of course, a glaring example. So that undermines my suggestion of a public and judicial forum to monitor political corruption. Even a body like federal ICAC is not safe from interference. The problems are deep and structural. Mars 8 and Kay I agree about disillusionment, having suffered some myself recently, however the need to keep fighting is the prime imperative.

    His attitude concerning the moral imperative to act against ISIL (ISIS) is, form him, an ethical necessity. I tend to agree but with great reservations and qualifications. It seems that planned outcomes can very easily be thwarted by ill considered actions. What a bloody mine field. Really though I do not know enough to decide either way. Obama seems to be striving to find a suitable balance. At least he has brought Abbott into line to some degree.

  16. Dakin

    It’s sad and disgusting that this is all going on, but it isn’t the only exposé and indictment of Abbott and his corrupt government. I do believe the sh*t is about to hit the fan on all fronts and the ‘mighty’ won’t even be able to lie their way out of it this time.

    Let’s not forget their crimes against humanity with the callous handing back of Sri Lankan men, woman and children to be almost certainly executed back in their own country – so once these mongrel dogs have been through the wringer of justice here, it will be a fitting end to see them in chains in the Hague answering for these heinous crimes, never to see the light of day again.

  17. Kaye Lee

    “Former federal parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper will call evidence about Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s use of travel allowances in an appeal against his conviction for dishonesty, court documents have revealed.

    Slipper is due to be sentenced later this month, after being found guilty in July of misusing his Cabcharge allowances to visit Canberra wineries in 2010 before he was speaker.

    But he has already lodged an appeal and has signalled he will use press reports about Mr Abbott’s repayment of travel costs after he attended former MP Sophie Mirabella’s wedding in 2006.

    Last year the Prime Minister repaid more than $1,000 in taxpayer-funded travel expenses he claimed when he attended the wedding.

    Slipper will also call on evidence about other MPs allowed to pay back travel money to which they were not entitled.”

    http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-08/slipper-to-call-evidence-about-other-mps-use-of-travel-allowanc/5728420

  18. Kaye Lee

    No lobbyists???

    “The charity sector “overwhelmingly” believes that the Abbott government has got it wrong in its attempt to abolish the national charities watchdog, World Vision chief executive Reverend Tim Costello says.

    In an address to the National Press Club on Monday Mr Costello referred to a new survey that found that 82 per cent of those surveyed in the charity sector think the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission is important or very important in “developing a thriving not for profit sector”. Only six per cent of those surveyed by Pro Bono Australia supported moving the commission’s functions to the Australian Tax Office, as per Coalition policy.

    Mr Costello said that “very powerful particular interests” had managed to convince the government to disband the ACNC, despite the strong levels of sector support. ”

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/charity-sector-says-the-government-has-it-wrong-on-charities-watchdog-20140908-10dycq.html

    If Tony Abbott is elected prime minister on Saturday he will abolish the watchdog established by Labor to keep an eye on the billions of dollars received and spent by Australian charities each year. Why?

    The answer, in part at least, may be the lobbying power of church conservatives, the Catholic Church in particular, and the office of Sydney Cardinal George Pell, more particularly still.

    Charity leaders, church heads and political insiders have told The Sunday Age about the lobbying campaign over charities regulation by the Sydney archdiocese, notably Cardinal Pell’s business manager and chief political envoy, Danny Casey.

    The pressure applied by the Sydney church through the charities debate has raised the question of the access and sway it may enjoy under Australia’s first Catholic Liberal prime minister and his Catholic-strong frontbench that includes Kevin Andrews, Barnaby Joyce, Joe Hockey, Malcolm Turnbull (a convert), Andrew Robb and Christopher Pyne.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/church-lobby-in-win-over-charities-watchdog-20130831-2sxqs.html#ixzz3ClCeZ5Nv

  19. Anomander

    What peeves me the most is the public’s blithe acceptance that “all politicians are all the same – there’s nothing we can do about it”.

    Even though most of us know right from wrong and we all strive to do good in our own small way, we are happy to turn a blind-eye to the politicians acting corruptly because we aren’t directly affected.

    Similarly, we are constantly reminded by the perverted media that we are powerless to act, or that acting is an exercise in futility. The only recourse available to us is to cast our vote on election day. Until such time “the public has spoken” and if you don’t like it – too bad.

    Every day a decision is made that favours a small group or at the behest of money or influence, we surrender a small piece of our democratic rights.

    Day-by-day, piece-by-piece our rights, our democratic rights, our environment and our society is being slowly and methodically eroded away. Like gentle waves washing against the cliff, we don’t notice the tiny flecks being eaten away and the foundation of our very society, until one day the damage is so great the entire cliff is undermined and we all plummet into the sea.

  20. Ross

    Recently wrote to my federal member re the privatisation of public assets and noted the body politic has degenerated to such an extent that politicians rated only slightly ahead of child molesters in the public mind. Said federal member wrote back in a huff about the comparison, seems I was correct.

  21. stephentardrew

    Thanks Kaye that is certainly a legitimate challenge and should have some legal sway as precedent. Can only hope Abbot has to suck eggs. The whole charities lobbying scenario is one of the prime movers undermining a sustainable democracy so thanks again for the info.

  22. Kevin Rennie

    Back a week from 2 months travelling. Nothing has changed. Time to tackle some Tories. My take on the Dame Pattie Menzies Liberal Foundation and friends:
    Bronwyn Bishop Implicated in Dodgy Political Donations Slush Fund

    “Bronwyn Bishop is still listed as a director and should have resigned from this slush fund years ago. Her role as Speaker of the House of Reps should have caused her to review her directorships, especially of conduits (or should that be sewers) like this foundation. They exist for one reason only – to circumvent transparency concerning political donations and to hide breaches of the law. Directors Pegg and McInnes and secretary Campbell have all been called before ICAC. Maybe it’s Bishop’s turn.”

  23. trevor

    The cloying stench of corruption envelopes the Parliaments of Australia as the “LAW’ is shown to be a complete and utter Ass, so unwilling and unable to respond to political / Corporate intrigues and criminality.

    The Australian First Nations people have realised long ago what is becoming patently obvious with the Abbott rabble and its Corporate masters holding control of the Treasury Benches and that is;

    The Balanda LAW is constructed by the circumstances presented to it. No prevailing long term view, just the wealthy prevail and those with political patronage are untouchable.

    The Parliaments own ‘Rules of Parliamentary Conduct’ are subordinated to the Government of the Day and so Corruption is the “Rule”

    And the ordinary folk say ‘They are all corrupt” aren’t they?

    Talk about a stinking morrass that the ABBOTT of PHONEY has unleashed with his ‘Calculated’, ‘Cunning’ subterfuge to bring about first the downfall of the elected Government of that day(Failed), then the criminal actions to bring the downfall of the ‘Speaker of the House of Representatives’ (success) supposedly the highest office of the Parliament.

    And then the Lying into Power and the continued Lying in Power. What a disgraceful set of circumstances that are in play, and all from one man an his backers.

    And supposedly there is no remedy by LAW.

    Well maybe that lyric “Happiness is a warm gun”

  24. Wayne Turner

    Abbott the biggest rorter of the lot,from weddings,parties,anything at our expense.Him even bragging about,for his latest rort.

    A shame our MSM sucks,and bury this.

    The most corrupt idiots ever – Both MSM & Libs.

    RIP AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRACY

  25. Wayne Turner

    BB has to go as speaker too…

  26. Kaye Lee

    Wayne,

    I heard a rumour on 2UE this morning that Bronwyn has her eye on a job that I didn’t quite catch, something to do with Parliamentary Unions with the UN I think (don’t quote me). If she gets the job they were suggesting that she would leave and Kevin Andrews would be made Speaker.

  27. TechinBris

    As much as I despise the hypocrite Governments we have been saddled with, nothing is going to change in the end unless we of Australia look carefully at ourselves and examine why such as these Megalomaniacs get into power. What in the psych of the Australian Voter are they using to push the buttons to make us do this to ourselves, by choosing that which is not in our long term interests, but some foreign entity’s decreed Interests.
    We know they utilise fear, greed and extortion, but why do we capitulate?
    Next is Law. What is it. Why do we acquiesce to it. Why do we obey what we know is not correct for us. Respect for the Law? We would have to respect what they are doing to us all for that. Something else is at play. What is it in the Australian mind that obeys it so steadfastly, how can that be abused and how do we recognise such abuse.
    There are heaps of things we need to examine in our own priorities as individuals before we begin to wider afield. With upcoming State elections, we need as individuals, to examine the evidence, stop focussing on the people doing the damage, but focus on why we let them and place them where they can have the power, on behalf of those they do represent, to do it to us.
    We, ourselves, are to blame as a Nation for what we are doing. Stop squirming in self loathing to take responsibility for it yourself. Till we do, we are stuck with this horrible outcome.
    Instead, focus on us and not them, as they have already shown they don’t care if we do. Whilst we acknowledge they have relevance for our future, we will give them the relevance to shaft us to their desired future for them, instead of what we would prefer for all of us.
    If they have no relevance to the Australian Voter, it doesn’t matter how much money they have to promote to win elections, if Australia doesn’t think they are relevant to shape our present and future.
    They will not change, so it is we who must change, otherwise we are in for more of the same and do we really desire that for Australia’s future?

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