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How about some other political witch hunts, Mr Abbott?

Malcolm Turnbull and John Howard (image from nws.com.au)

Malcolm Turnbull and John Howard (image from nws.com.au)

Tony Abbott promised to do many things if the LNP won the 2013 election. One of these, which was no doubt driven by populism and not policy (like everything else), was his promise to hold a judicial inquiry into Julia Gillard’s actions as a lawyer. He hammered this issue relentlessly during the campaign. Not content to simply ‘ditch the witch’ he wanted to conduct a political witch hunt of his own into irrelevant matters that were played out almost twenty years ago; matters that meant absolutely zero to the country. Most of us know of course that those matters mean absolutely zero in this present day as well, but that’s another story. Twenty years later, on this irrelevant issue:

Mr Abbott insisted again that Ms Gillard had committed a crime in her role of providing legal advice to incorporate an association for her then boyfriend and Australian Workers Union Victoria state secretary Bruce Wilson.

Abbott had no doubt been buoyed by poll after poll showing that voters questioned Ms Gillard’s explanation of the matter, hence his race towards tacky populism.

He of course ran the risk of being exposed as an utter fraud if the judicial inquiry turned up nothing to support his favoured exercise of fear and smear. But it would never deter him from practicing current day populism. History now shows – or is presently being played out – that the inquiry has turned into a ‘monumental failure’, as reported by Peter Wicks. It joins Abbott’s ‘own goal’ with his farcical Royal Commission into what he shrilly keeps calling the ‘pink batts fiasco’. He loves the smell of blood.

Given that he is keen to exert his time and money on judicial inquiries – witch hunts – I have a mere handful of instances of where he might want to hold witch hunts on whose episodes are more recent than Julia Gillard’s alleged criminal behaviour 20 years ago and whose outcomes would certainly be of national interest.

Below are some of the witch hunts Mr Abbott should take the time to pursue (as the man displays an obvious fetish with them). Long-term readers might recognise that I have raised these before, but given that witch hunts have been dominating the news over the last few days, raising them – and the manner in which they were quickly and conveniently swept under the carpet – further show that the current witch hunts are nothing but political opportunism.

So, Mr Abbott, what about these?

Our illegal war

Please take a look at John Howard’s lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. We entered into an illegal war based on that lie. We ordinary Australians are more interested in the lie that cost this country billions of dollars and the thrashing of our national pride. We, as a country, are still shadowed by that war, whereas Ms Gillard’s alleged actions were almost 20 years ago. Let’s have some priority.

AWB

The AWB Oil-for-Wheat Scandal refers to the payment of kickbacks to the regime of Saddam Hussein in contravention of the United Nations Oil-for-Food Humanitarian Program. AWB Limited is a major grain marketing organisation based in Australia. For much of the twentieth and early 21st century, it was an Australian Government entity operating a single desk regime over Australian wheat, meaning it alone could export Australian wheat, which it paid a single price for. In the mid-2000s, it was found to have been, through middlemen, paying kickbacks to the regime of Saddam Hussein in exchange for lucrative wheat contracts. This was in direct contradiction of United Nations Sanctions, and of Australian law. Mr Abbott, please take a look into how the Howard Government – of which you were a member – were entangled in this reprehensible act. Please also ask your former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who knew ‘nothing’ of the affair, if it is true that his staff removed 11 wheelie bins filled with shredded documents from his office the morning after losing the 2007 election. Perhaps you could put an end to the rumour that circulated Canberra about the contents of those mysterious bins.

Dodgy deals – Malcolm Turnbull

Mr Abbott, do you remember this?

In a speech that Mr Turnbull gave in Perth it was reported he “ . . . decried the state of political discourse in Australia, saying it had deteriorated to such an extent that the nation suffered “a deficit of trust” and there was an urgent need for honesty in politics.”

Despite all that preaching he then refused to answer a number of questions in relation to a grant he gave when he was Environment Minister in the Howard government to his friend Matt Handbury. Mr Hanbury, co-founder of the Australian Rain Corporation and nephew of the News Corporation chief, Rupert Murdoch, you might recall, contributed to Mr Turnbull’s electorate fund-raising machine (which was set up in 2007).

Mr Abbott, do you remember Mr Handbury’s company receiving a $10 million grant from Mr Turnbull when he was Environment Minister not long before the 2007 election? $10 million of tax payer’s money.

A witch hunt may jog your memory. And what an amazing coincidence that he is related to Rupert Murdoch.

Dodgy deals – John Howard

Mr Abbott, in 2000 your old boss decided to help the retrenched workers of National Textiles to recover their entitlements after the company, of which Mr Howard’s brother Stan was Chairman, was placed in the hands of an administrator.

It was reported at the time that it was Prime Minister Howard:

. . . who proudly announced that the cash-strapped National Textiles’ workers would receive their full entitlements. It was the Prime Minister who said they would be the first to recover wages, leave and a redundancy payout under a new National scheme and it was the Prime Minister who urged the creditors to accept a Deed of Arrangement so that the $6 million in State and Federal funds would flow.

. . . the Australian newspaper claimed that acceptance of the scheme would prevent an inquiry into National Textiles’ management and Directors, of which Mr Howard’s brother, Stan, is one. The editorial was scathing, raising questions about the government’s probity and calling the taxpayer funded bail-out improper, and policy on the run.

The then Opposition called for an inquiry but it went nowhere (naturally). Mr Abbott, given your carried-out promise of a witch hunt to dig up Julia Gillard’s past perhaps you’d be moral enough to do a bit of digging dig into this shady deal as well. Strike while the witch hunt iron is hot!

Future governments will no doubt be in overdrive holding Royal Commissions into the wealth of material this current government is providing us with – hopefully some of those might get to the truth behind Ashbygate or dodgy donations – but as I have pointed out, there is a lot of old stock to clear off the shelves first.

Mr Abbott is not the only one who smells blood; so do I. His. And his party.

24 comments

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  1. interested

    Every policy this government has “created” has sadly been so incredibly divisive, it has become a nation of women vs men, white vs black, unemployed vs employed, left vs right, big business vs unions, education (or not), religion vs science. To vilify is to divide and pitting people against each other creates mistrust, malice and contempt for our fellow people. What is the end game and to what purpose does it serve?

  2. Rob031

    Great article Michael.

    These could form the basis of a series of questions relentlessly fired at the PM during QT in parliament when it re-sits on the 22nd.

    I wonder what would happen?

  3. dwejevans

    Er, add to that list howards JSF purchase, Note Printing Australia, Abbotts’ ‘Australians For Honest Politics’, SIEV X and a real inquiry into Children Overboard,

  4. Michael Taylor

    Indeed, the list could have been much longer.

  5. Anne Byam

    Thanks Michael for a really great article.

    ======

    @ interested : ref …. ” What is the end game and to what purpose does it serve? ” ……

    Dictatorship, despotism, militarism, and many more meanings … all pointing to FASCISM … of the first order. That’s what we have on our doorstep today, that’s Abbott’s end game, and it serves no purpose except his extreme power hunger to be fed – no matter what, and no matter who it hurts in the process.

    …………

  6. Kaye Lee

    The long-simmering scandal that has seen the Australian Federal Police lay bribery charges against a wholly-owned Reserve Bank of Australia subsidiary, a second business established by the RBA, and international agents working for them, could yet claim scalps inside the highly regarded central bank.

    Three important questions remain outstanding. First, has the RBA misled Parliament and the federal Treasury about what it really knew in 2007, as the key whistle-blower claimed on ABC Four Corners on Monday night?

    Second, should the RBA have prudently reported to police back in 2007, extremely serious bribery allegations made by the company secretary of one of its wholly-owned entities? And, finally, on what basis has the Australian Securities and Investments Commission concluded that the directors of companies charged with bribery have not breached the Corporations Act?

    It would be surprising if the Coalition did not now commission a full investigation into how the RBA had allowed so many illegalities and serious governance infractions to take place inside the organisations for which it was responsible.

    http://www.afr.com/f/free/national/questions_remain_on_rba_involvement_3c6rUWm9E8byi26IxbOOxI

    Today, 29 July 2014, WikiLeaks releases an unprecedented Australian censorship order concerning a multi-million dollar corruption case explicitly naming the current and past heads of state of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, their relatives and other senior officials. The super-injunction invokes “national security” grounds to prevent reporting about the case, by anyone, in order to “prevent damage to Australia’s international relations”. The court-issued gag order follows the secret 19 June 2014 indictment of seven senior executives from subsidiaries of Australia’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The case concerns allegations of multi-million dollar inducements made by agents of the RBA subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia in order to secure contracts for the supply of Australian-style polymer bank notes to the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and other countries.

    https://wikileaks.org/aus-suppression-order/press.html

  7. Billypot

    Interested , I share your sentiments !! Abbott,has not created a wrecking ball !! He has created a snowball ! Every turn gains in size & momentum ! It will turn to ice & the impact ,will be be disastrous for us all ,Here & abroad !!

  8. Kaye Lee

    The Howard years….(could I recommend reading the whole article…this is just an excerpt)

    Minister Jim Short was forced to resign for failing to divest himself of financial interests in his area of ministerial responsibility. Industry minister John Moore was exposed for his shareholdings in technology investment and share-trading companies. Parliamentary secretary Brian Gibson lost his job because of a conflict of interest. Small business minister Geoff Prosser was running three shopping centres while he was a minister and he was forced to resign. Resources minister Warwick Parer had massive share interests in a coalmine and in other resource companies; he stayed, in breach of the ministerial code. Acting minister for communications Peter McGauran forgot that he owned 70 poker machines. Employment services minister Mal Brough promoted training courses which were actually Liberal Party fundraisers. Industry minister Ian Macfarlane was involved in a complex scam to rort GST rebates from Liberal Party fundraisers. Aboriginal affairs minister John Herron kept up his practice as a surgeon, in breach of the code.

    Mr Howard himself was found to be in breach of his own code when he failed to resign as a director of the Menzies Research Centre. Mr Howard misled the parliament over meetings he had held with ethanol producer Manildra’s boss – massive Liberal Party donor Dick Honan. It was eventually proved that the meetings did occur, and three weeks later the government increased trade penalties against a Brazilian ethanol producer.

    Parliamentary secretary Warren Entsch’s concrete company won a massive government contract in breach of the code. Peter Reith was appointed as a consultant to defence contractor Tenix immediately after resigning as defence minister. Health minister Michael Wooldridge signed a $5 million building deal for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and days later, after resigning as health minister, was employed by the college as a consultant. Senator Coonan, as Minister for Revenue, avoided paying a land tax. She was then exposed and forced to resign as a registered director of an insurance dispute resolution company operating from her own home.

    Wilson Tuckey, then Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, heavied a state police minister on behalf of a family member.

    Parliamentary secretary Bob Woods retired from politics when he was under police investigation for travel rorts. Communication minister Richard Alston’s family trust held Telstra shares. Peter Costello, the Treasurer, appointed Liberal Party megadonor Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank board despite being told by Mr Gerard that he was involved in a 14-year-long tax evasion dispute with the Australian Taxation Office.

    Three ministers – John Sharp, David Jull and Peter McGauran – were forced to resign as a result of travel rorts involving false claims, mismanagement or cover-ups. Parliamentary secretary Bill Heffernan was forced to resign over fabricated claims against a High Court judge. We had all that and much, much more.

    What about the Nixonian leaking of a classified document to Andrew Bolt in order to politically assassinate its author, Andrew Wilkie, while not vetoing the leaker from contesting a Liberal Party preselection ballot? We also had a situation where Mr Howard’s government engineered the sleaziest of deals with a former Labor senator, Mal Colston, to promote Colston to the deputy presidency of the Senate in return for Colston’s vote on crucial legislation.

    http://www.senatorjohnfaulkner.com.au/file.php?file=/news/HQRYPBHXRQ/index.html

  9. Pandrstevenson1@bigpond.com

    It’s about time Abbott was asked does he hold duel citizenship,YES or NO.

  10. mars08

    What about the ASIO raid on the offices of Bernard Collaery who was to be acting for East Timor at a case in the Court of Arbitration at The Hague?

    A former high ranking ASIS agent had evidence of government sponsored espionage being used for private economic gain. Coincidentally former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, on leaving parliament, went on to perform paid consulting work for Woodside Petroleum — the company with the rights to develop Greater Sunrise. The Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) treaty was signed in Sydney on January 12, 2006 by Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer and his East Timorese counterpart Jose Ramos-Horta.

    So… did Australia gain an unfair advantage during CMATS negotiations by spying on their delegation? Did Woodside Pertoleum make use of the information obtained by the ASIS spying?

  11. Angie

    The secret slush fund Abbott organised to destroy One Nation, then he lied until caught out on 7.30 Report. WHO were his donors? we pay his wage and he is accountable to the Australian people on everything he does relating to politics! WHO were your donors Mr Abbott? it’s time for a huge investigation into THIS slush fund!

  12. Kaye Lee

    Who reported Peter Slipper to the police and when?

  13. Hotspringer

    Of course A bott had to have a witch hunt. She turned him into a newt!

  14. diongiles

    Kaye Lee’s comments and Michael Taylor’s article set out a rich list of furthermores which, if there were such a thing as a Labor Party in Australia that meant business, could be used for relentless, shrill, repetitive questions in Question Time as Abbott’s religious Mafia masquerading as a political party did when it was in Opposition

  15. John Lord

    New governments tend to avoid the temptations of “payback” inquiries, because of the risk they’ll be caught by similar exercises in the future. It’s difficult to see how Labor will be able to resist the temptation when the next obtain office.

  16. Truth Seeker

    Migs, well said 😎 and there are that many smoking guns pointed squarely at the LNP, the Labor party might have to increase the corrective services budget to accommodate the influx of LNP “Guests” at Her Majesty’s Pleasure 😉

    Cheers mate 😀

  17. kerrilmail

    Especially John Lord when Bishop the skinnier is reported to have said the Royal Commission was payback for the misogyny speech!!! There is a vindictive harridan if ever there was one!

  18. Florence nee Fedup

    Payback says it all. No the adults are not in charge. This is infant playground behaviour.
    Bishop got it wrong. PM Gillard’s speech was about telling the Opposition of the time, she was not putting up with such behaviour anymore.

    By the way, the now skinny Bishop was one of the worse offenders.

  19. Florence nee Fedup

    Vengeance can indeed cloud ones judgement. What I object to mostly, is that PM Gillard was incapable. No, she was not. Maybe you could say you do not like what she did. One cannot say, she did not deliver what she set out to do.

    Could you imagine any of this mob carrying three portfolios. Big ones at that. Yes, Gillard was minister for Education and Industrial relations. Cannot recall what the third was.

    Yes, she rewrote WorkChoices while renovating the education system. Yes. she gave it the technology that bought it into the 21 century. Along the way, she provided school halls, language and science labs, digitalised libraries and the classrooms fro9m infants up.

  20. Wayne Turner

    Abbott was partied to all those that should be looked into ie: He was in a minister in the Liberal party when they all happened.

    Abbott’s just a LYING THUG BULLY,unfit to lead anything,and a policy free zone to benefit this country.

    This sick joke known as Abbott needs to go ASAP – If he shockingly wins another term,this country is stuffed,and the masses will never wake up to themselves.

  21. Dame Lacey Bra

    I would love to see Abbott and Howard dragged through an RC. Aboott is a vindictive bully and needs to be removed ASAP

  22. Wayne Turner

    Totally agree Dame Lacey Bra 😉

  23. F Jinn

    Defence contracting and the influence of the “Team Australia” (DMO) in political corruption. Might have to wait for that one.

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