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Who says we don’t need a Federal ICAC?

Members of Parliament are paid an electorate allowance, ranging between $32,000 to $46,000 depending on the size of their electorate. They are also provided with a car or given $19,500 pa to use their own.

The electorate allowance is ‘an expense of office allowance payable to Senators and Members to reimburse them for costs necessarily incurred in providing services to their constituents’.

First we had George Christensen telling us that he regularly uses his allowance to make personal donations.

Now we find out that Liberal MPs have been paying $2,500 each of taxpayer money to a company that is run by the Liberal Party and staffed by people drawing a parliamentary salary. This money has then been donated back to the Liberal Party – over $1 million in the last three years.

In 2014, Tony Abbott established a covert political hit squad which is funded by taxpayers, operates outside parliamentary scrutiny and has a controversial leader.

The under-the-radar Coalition Advisory Service supplies Government backbenchers with media information and ammunition to aim at the Labor Opposition. It has offices in Parliament House.

Its head is Simon Berger, the former Woolworths executive who left the company after organising the auction of a “chaff-bag jacket” at a September 2012 Young Liberal fundraising dinner addressed by Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones.

Under CAS, Mr Berger has a staff of at least six but a potential allocation of 10.

They are paid from $75,000 to $175,000 a year, and are issued with laptops and mobile telephones.

It operates under the Government Whip who, as he’s not a minister, does not have his spending examined at Estimates grillings.

Sallyann Innes was employed by CAS. Whilst being listed in staff directories as collecting a taxpayer-funded salary as a government media adviser in Parliament House, she also operated a private email address linked to Parakeelia and listed as “training and operations” director for Feedback software. She regularly ran support workshops for the software in capital cities.

We have been told that we do not need a federal ICAC because there are already bodies in place to deal with allegations of corruption. I would like to know to whom this obviously corrupt money-laundering has been or will be referred and how it could happen if we have adequate watchdogs.

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  1. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    The clear evidence of entrenched corruption being endemic to federal politics is rather inconvenient (and oh so boring) to certain parties, so perhaps it would be much better if you refrained from broaching the subject again.
    As for a federal ICAC, the major parties seem quite content with the current approach of unregulated voluntary self-assessment.
    Apparently, the system is working just fine, so why rock the boat?

  2. Kaye Lee

    Parakeelia is registered to the same inner-Canberra office building as the Liberals. The company’s directors include the Liberal Party’s federal director, Tony Nutt, and president, Richard Alston. It is registered with authorities as being associated with the party.
    Last financial year, Parakeelia transferred $500,000 to the federal Liberal division, making it the party’s second-biggest single source of funds. The year before it came in fourth with $400,000; before that $200,000.

  3. Matters Not

    like to know to whom this obviously corrupt money-laundering has been or will be referred

    The AFP is a possibility but they have their hands full raiding the homes and offices of ALP Ministers and staff who might actually tell us what is going on with the NBN.

    The thing about a proper functioning ICAC, a referral should not be needed because it would be their job to ‘know’, given their role would included keeping their eyes and ears open for potential corruption. But the real strength of an ICAC is that an enormous amount of ‘self regulation’ would occur. A healthy level of ‘fear’ that they might be exposed and there would be no recourse to the Minchin Protocol.

    Currently, there is the view – if in doubt. Then claim. One can always pay it back if exposed. It’s gambling without the prospect of a loss. (Slipper of course was the exception.)

  4. Kaye Lee

    Australia has been singled out for its deteriorating position as it continues a four-year slide down the International Corruption Index.

    Australia ranked 13th in the latest report, dropping six positions since 2012.

    The incoming chairman of Transparency International’s Australian subsidiary, TI Australia, Anthony Whealy QC, said lack of action by successive governments to curb public sector corruption was the reason Australia continued to slide down the rankings.

    “The delay in responding to these issues has now made reform critical and a commitment to ramp up efforts to tackle foreign bribery, which has particularly impacted perceptions of Australia, is now urgent,” Mr Whealy said.

    TI Australia CEO Phil Newman has called on the Turnbull Government to deliver a stronger federal anti-corruption agency.

    “With Australia’s worst foreign bribery offences having been committed by former or current government-owned entities – the Australian Wheat Board, Note Printing Australia and Securency Limited – there is no excuse not to have implemented all of the OECD’s reform recommendations in this area by the end of the year,” Mr Newman said.

    The inflow of illicit foreign funds into Australia’s property market is also cited as a problem.

    Mr Whealy said unless Australia strengthened its anti-money laundering regime it would continue to fall in the corruption rankings.

  5. Terry2

    When I first heard about Parakeelia and the blatant money laundering of taxpayer funds back into Liberal Party coffers,
    I thought ; ‘well that’s it, this is the Liberals Watergate’.

    It just goes to show the level of corruption that we have become accustomed to that the funneling of taxpayer funds away from electoral services and to the federal Liberal Party, passes with barely a comment.

    That Parakeelia has become the second largest individual contributor to Liberal Party funding using sanitized taxpayer funds is a perversion of our democracy and a national disgrace.

  6. Matters Not

    That the ALP weren’t into this ‘arrangement’ demonstrates again that the LNP are better money managers. Labor, asleep at the wheel. They don’t have the head for business. ? ? ? ?

  7. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Parakeelia is another example of public purse rorting which in this case benefits the Liberal Party and its lemmings.

    Ofcourse, we need a fully enforceable Federal ICAC to purge the Liberal Party and to hold individuals personally and financially accountable for any involvement in the laundering of our money into Parakeelia and then back into Liberal coffers. That means perpetrators can expect heavy penalties including gaol, loss of career benefits and propects and heavy financial consequences.

    All money paid into the Liberal Party must be repaid and if that bankrupts the party, all the better.

  8. wam

    It is sad, but not surprising, that the liberal and national pollies are tweaking close to and over the line of corruption.
    The perfect crime, allowances, that must be acquitted or become salary and therefore taxable income, can be laundered and used to bribe yourself??
    I am sure that out of $32000 much, if not most, cash is distributed in a similar manner.
    Petrol usage based on the pollie traveling a couple of thousand kilometres to a meeting and a travel itinerary that shows a plane was hired?
    It is very close to being time to take iron bar wilson’s solution, as the cheaper and safer option.

  9. SGB

    This looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a….

    Well you know the rest

    But seriously how do we get the Labor party to call for a Federal ICAC, because if they did they would romp the election on 2 July.

    As it is it looks like a small minority LNP. Will be the result and that means more demonization and bullying of those who cannot defend themselves, and even greater tendacy to create corrupt systems like this Para-thing and the freedom foundation thing, and I PA.

  10. Carol Taylor

    This action by the Liberal Party is in fact stealing – tax payers are being rorted to feather the nest of the already extremely wealthy Liberal Party. When the numbers state that the Liberals are outspending Labor two to one, it’s ‘our money’ they’re spending.

  11. jantonius

    Whenever I contact Labor MPs about a Fed. ICAC, I either get complete silence in response (90% of the time), or some useless guff about ‘current oversight’ as sufficient for any eventuality. It is as if corruption is not endemic, but merely exceptional. This is yet another story to put a lie to that.
    I have to ask: why are Labor being so evasive about this?
    To announce an ICAC policy now may not win the election. But it would do no harm. What is more important to a group of politicians than enhancing re-election in marginals, and possibly winning Government?

  12. Jaquix

    Disgraceful example of straight out theft by the Liberal Party, and how they get away with it. Was it splashed over the front page of the Australian, the Daily Telegraph, the Courier Mail. No. Not a peep out of them. Could someone at least start a petition calling for the Australian Federal Police (or whoever is appropriate) so individuals can at least register our disapproval of this blatant corruption of the process of government. Now, before the possible re-election of the thieves to continue on their merry way..

  13. Jack Russell

    Grrrrr…I need to vent on this issue:

    Anyone who has demonstrated any objection or unwillingness to hold a federal ICAC will automatically have their passport cancelled/confiscated and be placed on the witness list?

    No known political or corporate allies in the legal profession to be appointed to a court examining political or corporate corruption?

    Assets of witnesses to be frozen until found not guilty of corruption, or of aiding and abetting corruption?

    The federal ICAC into political and corporate corruption to have a completely unrestricted, open Terms Of Reference, including time and cost?

    Nope, don’t feel better…grrrrrrr…

  14. Kaye Lee

    jantonius, from the article linked to about the CAS….

    “Both Labor and the Coalition have set up offices similar to CAS when in government. That’s one reason why the Opposition knows it has a largely political role.

    One of the most controversial was Labor’s National Media Liaison Service (known as aNiMaLS) in the 1990s.

    Its Labor successors include the Caucus Communications Team (CCT) and under the Coalition, the Government Members’ Secretariat.”


    The Labor frontbencher and former ALP national secretary Gary Gray rejected a push for an Icac-style national integrity commission at the party’s conference because he says existing federal bodies are working.

    Asked by Guardian Australia why he did not support the concept of a federal Icac, Gray said the ALP national conference had never done so.

    “The [final] resolution spelled out in detail the multiple levels of integrity and assurance in place at the federal level which already work,” Gray said. “An Icac-type body is needed where there is a lack of institutions to protect the integrity of public processes and the public interest. This is not the case federally.

    “Although the need for an Icac-type body has been discussed for 30 years, the ALP has always rejected a federal Icac while supporting and reviewing existing integrity measures.”

    The final Labor conference motion “acknowledged …independent corruption commissions such as the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption have exposed corruption and ethical lapses in numerous state jurisdictions”.

    It agreed to review (AGAIN) “existing commonwealth institutions to adequately capture a national system”. Those bodies included the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, the Australian National Audit Office, the inspector-general of intelligence security, the public accounts and audit committee, Senate estimates committees, the Australian Public Service Commission and the Australian Crime Commission.

    I think they doth protest too much…..

  15. Jexpat

    It seems obvious, but even so I’ll point it out: the reason why the Liberals and Labor won’t support a federal ICAC is that they know that too many of thier members and supporters will be caught out.

  16. jantonius

    Thank you Kaye,
    Funny that: some of the few responses I have received after some delay contain very similar wording.

    Even if they believed some of that stuff – would they not see the benefit of a central authority with overriding powers of investigation and facilitation of process?
    And at least, wouldn’t they see it as a possible electioneering drawcard? I mean, even if you appeal to their cynical instincts, they prefer to hide behind evasive verbiage, like shy little things.
    It smells.

  17. Zathras

    I’ve been waiting in vain for a long time for the financial relationship between the non-voting Exclusive Brethren sect and the Liberal Party to be revealed.

    I remember an exchange in the Senate that went completely unreported in the media that suggested Howard increased the EB’s taxpayer handout from $10million to eventually $40million per year if they followed his advice and re-designated their single schools into a national campus.

    In return, as well as actively campaigning against the Greens they allegedly set up a company in Tasmania that channeled money to the Liberal Party so it seems that they were a convenient way of laundering taxpayer money back into Liberal coffers via an intermediary.

    I has to come out eventually.

  18. Bighead1883

    jantonius June 13, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Seeing as you wrote this,you`ll have no trouble posting copies of the correspondence here for all of us to see

    Whenever I contact Labor MPs about a Fed. ICAC, I either get complete silence in response (90% of the time), or some useless guff about ‘current oversight’ as sufficient for any eventuality.

  19. Jagger

    Do you mean an ICAC like the neutered one in NSW, good luck with that, the AFP have proven they’re just another arm of the LNP.

  20. Bighead1883

    Zathras June 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    How interesting,I for one never knew of any of this and finding a Hansard transcript to it would be newsworthy indeed

  21. jantonius

    Who are you?
    You want me to scan multiple pages of documents; sent privately, by mail, involving personal and identifying detail?
    What the f*ck is that question about?

    Do you support an ICAC or not?
    If not, why not?
    Otherwise get lost.

  22. my say

    Is this called money laundering ,isnt there a law against this

  23. Bighead1883

    jantonius June 13, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    I`m sure Michael Taylor will see your polite reply here

    You made a clear statement which I asked you to prove by showing a copy of the correspondence

    I have your answer and I presume by it you have no proof therefore can be considered a liar until you show such proof

    Do I support a Federal ICAC?=I sure do
    As I support and Banking and Financial Industry RC

    Now I`ve answered your question,show me proof of your claim

  24. jantonius

    I have answered you.
    I will be supplying nothing on a public bloggers’ site. Nearly every substantial contact on this matter carries matters in confidence. I am not editing out details on documents for the sake of your ‘polite’ request.
    Don’t ask again. It reads like jackboot tactics.

  25. jantonius

    Back to the topic.
    Why do Labor not support an ICAC? It is a yawning gap in their policy framework.

  26. RichardU

    Isn’t the electorate allowance just part of politicians’ pay and does not require to be accounted for, cent by cent? This being the case, it is not open to be spent any way the the politician decides? A Federal ICAC may well be needed, but this expenditure is not the reason for it.

    Claiming that is is the reason gives politicians the excuse to sideline the debate.

  27. Bighead1883

    jantonius June 13, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    The question you ask me is answered further up in Kaye Lees comment and Guardian posting

    You are inanely babbling on of which you know little of

    The only opposition to scrutiny of any kind is from the Liberal Nationals

    Labor is cleaning out any who cannot pass scrutiny and please name those you wish to see investigated

    The last MP who did not pass this muster was Gary Gray and he was disendorsed accordingly

    As Bill Shorten and Mark Dreyfus will tell anyone,if you have proof of an Labor MP being and or acting corruptly then report them to the AFP

  28. corvus boreus

    Labor did vote in favor of forming a specially selected committee to examine the validity in the idea of a federal ‘ICAC’.
    Since the nation has now entered pre-election (DD!) care-taker mode, this committee has been disbanded.

    There was another recent division on a proposal for a federal anti-corruption body, but it failed to pass;

  29. jantonius

    It reads like your concern for an ICAC is a bit token.
    I was not referring to Labor MPs. That was your assumption.
    You know nothing about my concerns.
    You are way out of your depth.
    And I am not going to give details here. That was an absurd request. Which you seem to be repeating.
    Don’t go on about it anymore.
    You made your point. You’re Party ‘faithful’.
    God help everyone else.

  30. diannaart

    Labor do protest too much.

    …while not really do any thing much, such as forming a committee to examine the validity of a federal ICAC – great way to appear to be doing something.

  31. jantonius

    Thanks corvus,
    Next, I’m having lunch.

  32. Kaye Lee

    Tony Fitzgerald: “The usual, and sometimes intended, outcome is a flurry of superficial activity, appointment of a suitable group of other insiders to report, lengthy discussion of their report, considerable navel-gazing, a feel-good pronouncement and then business as usual.”

  33. Stop Errorism

    This is corruption writ large and must be investigated. Hopefully 4 corners might shine some light into this cesspit …

  34. brianconcannon

    I am all for a Federal ICAC but am worried about how the elites/Libs would corrupt it, to suit there own agenda’s…..
    The NSW ICAC was used in this way to stitch up Barry O’Farrell over the bottle of Grange and replace him with chainsaw Mike Baird, because he wouldn’t privatize our poles and wires and wouldn’t have dared cut down the historic ANZAC Figs along Anzac Pde, But Chainsaw Mike doesn’t have a problem with selling us and the ANZAC vets out.
    Another plan to try and get rid of Margaret Cunneen (that failed) over something minor they had their hands on, went to show that Margaret’s integrity has got in the way of corruption and it was decided to use the ICAC to get rid of and discredit her

  35. Kaye Lee

    “The last MP who did not pass this muster was Gary Gray and he was disendorsed accordingly”

    Isn’t it a tad pointless disendorsing a retiring politician? What did he do to “not pass muster”? Was he forced to retire? Is this relevant….”At one point the executive had to rescue frontbencher Gary Gray from a union-backed challenge in his seat of Brand, south of Fremantle”?

    Was Joe Bullock one of the ones being “cleaned out” and does Louise Pratt deserve an apology?

    Have Labor changed their view since National Conference re a Federal ICAC?

  36. Jack Russell

    News today about corruption being rife in all local councils too.

    Seems only a forensic examination of all government (federal, state and local), and their business, assorted enablers, and other connections will get to the bottom of the cesspit.

  37. Michael Taylor

    Brian, apologies but your comment had been caught up in spam. Sorry about that.

  38. paul walter

    Kaye Lee at 12.13 replying to jantonious.

    Kaye Lee, you are exceptional. Marry me.

  39. wam

    An enjoyable thread.
    Remember when Fed politics had a junior clerk who said yes or no to areas of expenditure where rorting and corruption could occur?
    These annoying public servants went not long after the tealadies because the pollies decided that pollies were able to manage without a public service eye on the books.
    (Self regulation has rarely worked.)
    I doubt if bronnie would taken the chopper if she paid up front. Slipper would not have been in trouble if he paid for the taxis,
    This post would not have been written if the pollies own money was involved.
    Indeed if unspent allowances become salary, could they be done for tax evasion?

  40. Kaye Lee

    Thank you paul but I have been with the same man for 40 years and I kinda like him. Plus I am hopeless as a wife – I am domestically challenged.


    Any unspent electorate allowance is taxable but that is between the MP and the ATO, I’m sure they could invest anything left over in a negatively geared property and avoid any tax.

  41. paul walter

    A woman who can’t boil water? Just what I’m looking for..

    Seriously, you are a fine writer..classy.

  42. Garth

    I’m reminded again of the old adage… ‘justice must not only be done, it must be SEEN to be done’. Meaning, even if the major parties protestations of existing adequate control were true (which I personally think is crap), no one can deny that there is a serious issue with confidence in the community regarding political corruption (hence Kaye’s article and many others). As such, we need an overarching independent federal body to give the public some level of confidence in political compliance with the law. To have otherwise (as we do now) means a disengaged public who have no confidence in their parliamentarians. What is the solution to letting these shysters decide whether or not there should be a corruption body to examine their own dealings?

  43. Mark Needham

    Yes. A proper enquiry. Not a Royal Commission, where certain evidence is unusable in later criminal proceedings.
    An ICAC. A bloody good idea.
    Bring it on!

  44. Jaquix

    Would Parakeelia the company not receive a tax deduction (more tax payer money) for its “donations” to the Liberal Party (which owns it?). As well as being a clear cut syphoning of taxpayer allowances, to resource the company. Surely apart from being corrupt, this is double dipping corruption?

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