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Rewarding corruption and incompetence

It seems corruption and incompetence are no impediment to the Coalition when handing out lucrative gigs to their mates. The examples of them not only ignoring wrongdoing but rewarding it are endless.

Ex-chairman of the ABC board, Justin Milne, became a Non Executive Director of betting firm Tabcorp in August 2011. He is a member of the Tabcorp Risk and Compliance Committee.

In March last year, the Federal Court found Tabcorp failed to alert regulators to reports of suspicious behaviour on 108 occasions over more than five years and fined them $45 million for breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. The civil penalty awarded against Tabcorp is believed to be the highest in Australian corporate history.

“Its money laundering and terrorism financing function was at times under-resourced and Tabcorp senior management didn’t regularly receive reports in relation to the money laundering and terrorism finance compliance,” AUSTRAC chief executive Paul Jevtovic said

“This was a serious failure in the corporate governance and the size of the penalty reflects a significant and extensive noncompliance. In my view, the noncompliance arises from a corporate culture that is indifferent to money laundering and terrorism financing requirements.”

Tabcorp is also facing possible foreign bribery charges for a payment of $200,000 in 2010 (before Mr Milne’s appointment) to the family of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Likewise, the new acting chair of the ABC, Kirstin Ferguson, was the head of the ethics committee at Leighton Holdings when a whistleblower disclosed to her serious allegations of foreign bribery. She buried the report and the whistleblower was sacked. This case will return to court on October 22 when former senior executive Peter Gregg faces criminal charges of falsifying books and records.

Then there is the ongoing Securency/Note Printing Australia case, where a whistleblower reported his concerns to management about ongoing corrupt practices on numerous occasions and as a result was subject to various forms of harassment, intimidation and eventually forced from his job.

In October 2011, Securency and NPA pleaded guilty to three charges each of conspiring to bribe foreign public officials and were ordered to pay penalties of $19.8 million and $1.8 million respectively under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. On 20 August 2012, Mr David Ellery, former Chief Financial Officer of Securency was sentenced by the Supreme Court of Victoria to imprisonment for six months, wholly suspended for two years.

The OECD reports that, in addition to Securency and NPA, nine former executives and sales agents of the two subsidiaries were charged with foreign bribery, conspiracy to commit foreign bribery, and/or false accounting.

The trials have been shrouded in secrecy, with the court orders and identities of certain individuals unknown due to suppression orders. These prosecutions are ongoing and are reported to be the longest committal proceeding in Victorian history.

Former deputy RBA governor Graeme Thompson and former Reserve Bank board member Dick Warburton were NPA directors at the time.

Mr Thompson is now a director of AMP Superannuation and Warburton is chairman of the Westfield Retail Trust. A fellow NPA director, Mark Bethwaite, is on the board of the Sydney Catchment Authority and was treasurer of the federal Liberal Party between 2006 and 2008.

Dick Warburton was appointed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to review Australia’s renewable energy target even though he was under internal investigation into his role in Australia’s worst foreign bribery scandal.

Then there is our new Assistant Treasurer, Stuart Robert, who has many clouds hanging over him.

He accompanied Liberal donor Paul Marks to China to sign a mining deal from which he would profit. He accepted a Rolex watch from Chinese billionaire Li Ruipeng. He was called before the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission regarding dodgy council elections.

Then, in 2017, it was revealed that Robert had direct financial links with a company, the GMT Group, which was awarded millions of dollars worth of government contracts. This may have meant that he was in breach of the eligibility requirements of Section 44 of the Constitution of Australia at past elections, however, as Robert had been re-elected to Parliament since breaking ties with the company, there was no possibility of his in-doubt past elections being challenged in the High Court. Stuart Robert’s parents were listed as the directors of his company for six years without their knowledge.

While the government rails on at length about welfare cheats and union corruption, political and corporate malfeasance is ignored and miscreants can look forward to their next lucrative seat on the gravy train.



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  1. presser#1

    Kaye, thank you for doing the research and joining the dots. Love your work.

  2. lawrence winder

    This might not end soon but it will certainly end badly for the country.

  3. Babyjewels

    It’s so disgusting that it’s depressing. The ongoing corruption of our government, the rewarding of incompetence and corruption and the voters who vote for it, makes for a very ugly country. Not a lot to be proud of in Australia, is there? Especially when we’re shown up on a daily basis by our progressive neighbouring country, NZ. Whilst enduring daily insults from our own bunch of political criminals.

  4. Sally Wise

    Convicts !!

  5. New England Cocky

    Wonderful thought provoking research, thank you!! Such efforts make it a joy to support AIMN.

    We are always told that the Liarbral National$ misgovernment are the best at everything; blowing out the national debt, rorting the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme, protecting NW NSW and SW Queensland MDB water theft by broad acre farmers, for just a few recent examples. So it is obvious that being the best at incompetence and corruption is just a natural extension of these “talents”.

    Women supporting Adultery support National$.

  6. Henry Lemming

    It’s a sad sad affair.

  7. Phil Gorman

    Thank you once again Kaye. Such a parcel of rogues runs the nation.

    Several years ago Transparency International noted Australia’s falling anti corruption rating. It presented our government with a comprehensive plan for setting up a national ICAC in Australia. The LNP Attorney General, George Brandis, said it was unnecessary as Australia already had world leading regulators and law enforcement agencies. An ICAC would simply duplicate existing arrangements and waste public money.

    Are we really so helpless, hopeless and impotent that nothing can be done? My cup of disgust and outrage runneth over.

  8. Frank Smith

    Kaye Lee, let us not forget that the Australian Wheat Board “food-for-oil” scandal of 15 years ago in which senior public servants and Coalition Ministers were undoubtedly implicated was also swept under the carpet. In spite of the Volker Inquiry by the United Nations and the extensive Cole Inquiry in Australia, the recently completed outcome was no more than a mere slap on the wrist for the AWB Chairman Trevor Flugge. Australian wheat growers and Australia’s international reputation suffered immeasurably from this $300 million scandal. We must have a Federal ICAC to clamp down on such unfettered corruption.

  9. RomeoCharlie29

    Golly you’re good Kaye Lee. It just makes you shake your head at the naked contempt this government shows us, the people.

  10. Rhonda

    I could just cry

  11. jamesss

    Thank you Kaye,

    There is no light shining or empathy from this mob, only darkness. Whoever is pulling the strings one can only imagine what they have over them. Of course there is always a significant cost to bare at a level well above your pay grade. It only takes one whistleblower.

  12. Miriam English

    Thank you Kaye. You crystallise the problem with this awful pack of thieves “governing” the country.

    I have to wonder what a Non Executive Director is… a director who is paid not to do anything?

  13. Adrianne Haddow

    You are a treasure, Kaye Lee.

    Your forensic research skills are awesome.

    You show up the so -called journalists in the MSM for what they mostly are. Sycophantic scribblers who can’t or won’t research.

  14. Kaye Lee

    It just flabbergasts me that these professional Directors who sit on multiple boards seem to have no responsibility. There are no consequences for them for covering up criminal behaviour in the organisations they are supposedly over-seeing. Surely the example of the cover-ups of child sex abuse show how damaging that is. But even when the wrongdoing is exposed, as in the case of Tabcorp and Leightons and NPA, those Directors are still gifted jobs on government boards. They were either complicit or unbelievably incompetent. But move in the right circles and not to worry.

  15. guest

    Heard last night on QandA, that Alberici’s essay on trickle-down economics had “inaccuracies”, according to Birmingham. And so the ABC was compelled to say that as well, at the time. But experts agree that Alberici was right – and her criticisms of that false economics have been known for a long time. But poor Malcolm was deflated by the inconvenient truths and his mate set out to censor the ABC. Nice one.

  16. SteveFitz



    Rupert Murdoch has been up to his neck in the elevation and removal of Australia prime ministers for the better part of a decade. The ABC has seen the conservatives politicise its board, demolish its funding and pressure its management to get rid of troublesome journalists. And now we face the prospect of the disappearance of Australia’s longest, independent print masthead (Fairfax) as it is consumed by a television company (Nine) which is chaired by Peter Costello.

    Murdoch despises the ABC for ideological and commercial reasons. The fact the Liberal Party Federal Council recently adopted a formal resolution for total privatisation of the ABC underlines Murdoch’s and the Liberal’s common approach. But rather than a full frontal assault, what the Liberals have done is stack the board, slash the budget (resulting in the loss of 1,200 staff) and pressure management to get rid of difficult journalists.

    The Murdoch media, through systematic bullying and intimidation, have successfully created a culture of fear in Australian public life. People know that if you attack them, they then set out to destroy you. And it’s worked. That’s why most politicians, corporates, academics and journalists decide to keep their heads down.

    A free media is the lifeblood of a democracy. But media freedom in Australia is now under structural threat from a combination of extreme ideological Liberal Party conservatism, fuelled by rampant commercial interests.

    What Australia needs is a far-reaching royal commission covering not just the abuse of media power in pursuit of personal gain, but also examining future models for public and private media ownership – to preserve the press and democratic freedoms on which our nation has been built.

    Kevin Rudd

  17. Christopher J Ward

    There are times when I despair reading news across the spectrum. This is one such time because this is a very good article that points to the flaws or defects in our system. I am very good at helping define the problem but my personal view and generally dystopian philosophy lead me to conclude that at present, no one represents my views at either state or federal level. Furthermore, politics has become much more toxic and it hasn’t improved one iota and I remain highly sceptical about the capacity of the ALP to do anything different. In many respects, they are part of the problem, not the solution. As a not-so retired social scientist and historian, I’ve concluded that we appear to be approaching a very nasty time, because if the voodoo economists haven’t predicted it, then they are fooling themselves. The privatisation of nearly everything is bad enough in itself: it is rotten to the core and to coin a recent phrase, puts profit before people without telling us who really holds the controls or the strings. So much of our system has been rorted, debauched, and I think I could run out of adjectives before I finish letting off steam. I look back at films of the Weimar Republic, then look at our politics today and have a good shudder. Does anyone have a real solution that will stand serious scrutiny? At my time of life, I can’t afford to flee to another country but I don’t know where I’d go except across the Tasman.

  18. Kaye Lee


    I tend to write about the bad things to help keep the bastards accountable, but never forget the many wonderful people truly achieving great things. Never forget the amazing people who make a real difference actually helping people. Never forget that most people are generally well-meaning. Never forget the solutions to our problems are out there, We just need to lead our politicians through educating the public. I don’t expect a political messiah – I expect the people to demand better. We have to listen to each other, learn how to work together, and then elect people who will be guided by the experts.

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