Tony Abbott, when asked if his Royal Commissions were political stitch-ups, said that the RC into the Home Insulation Programme was put in place because “four people died and the families wanted to get to the bottom of it so to keep faith with the families the government established the Royal Commission.”
It is understandable for grieving families to want answers, but Abbott spending $20 million on a ninth inquiry that found nothing new cannot be viewed as anything other than a wasteful political witch hunt.
Abbott says that his two Royal Commissions “were addressing very serious public policy challenges. (Both)…have been casting a spotlight into some of the darker corners of our national life and that’s what royal commissions are there for”.
In the first twenty months of the Abbott government, according to Fortress Australia, there were 46 reported preventable deaths of asylum seekers – 39 drowned en route, 5 suicides, 1 murdered in detention and one died from complications from an untreated cut. There have been many more people beaten and abused, many incidents of self-harm and mental illness, but this “serious public policy challenge” will remain in a dark corner.
When Bill Shorten defended himself at the Royal Commission by saying him accepting donations from unions or businesses for his campaign was no different to the treasurer accepting donations from business leaders and lobby groups, it gained little traction, with the Commissioner suggesting he keep his answers to “yes, no and I don’t remember.”
Shorten was certainly remiss in not declaring to the AEC, the donated employment of someone to work on his campaign, but there is no suggestion that he personally benefitted financially, unlike those many MPs who have made false entitlement claims. He has recently corrected that omission.
As for possible conflict of interest, Joe Hockey did not declare his wife’s directorship of Steel Harbour Pty Ltd until 2012, despite the fact she was appointed in 1998.
And we still have no proof that Tony Abbott didn’t lie to the AEC about his citizenship.
Abbott refused to comment on Bill Shorten’s future, saying his problem with the Labor Party was it “doesn’t often enough support good policy”.
This from the man who abolished carbon pricing, abolished the mining tax, abolished changes to the fringe benefits tax, opposes changes to superannuation tax concessions, opposes marriage equality, and has reneged on signed agreements with the states for health and education funding.
Small Business Minister Bruce Billson said there was something “NQR” – not quite right – about the donations accepted by Mr Shorten.
“I think what people are really interested in — imagine if you had a trusted mate buying a car for you, trying to get you a good deal, then you find out your mate is getting a sling from the man who is selling the car, that’s just dodgy,” he told Channel Nine.
“If he is getting a sling off the car seller, how does he look after your interests?
“There is something NQR [not quite right] about that, which is the issue.”
And how does a judge ruling that the treasurer allows access to people who can afford to make large donations sound Mr Billson? Speaking of slings, why is your party resisting regulation of the financial sector Mr Billson? And was the approval of a coal mine in the richest agricultural land a condition of getting a signature on a free trade agreement? Were the subs likewise? What about giving slings to dictators, corrupt regimes, and people smugglers?
The Liberal Party has cognitive dissonance down to a fine art.