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The Royal Commission Show, our favourite national theatre?

There is no scientific, intelligible or rational justification put forward for the reduction of 70 GL. The obvious inference to be drawn is that political considerations largely drove the NBR, not science. This is not only unlawful, but is deplorable. (Bret Walker SC, MDBA Royal Commission Report, p.63).

The reek of corruption and decay mingles with the stench of another mass fish kill at Menindee this week. The nation gags in shock and disbelief as not one, but two, of our favourite forms of national theatre, the Royal Commission Show, conclude with the obligatory self-flagellation in the form of tabling excoriating reports. Traditionally, this leads to a frenzy of self-exculpation in the uplifting and compelling “Don’t blame me” chorus.

Officials, everywhere, are left gasping for breath; floundering like a forty-year old Murray Cod left to perish on the bed of a Darling River whose waters have been sold off to profit wealthy rice and cotton farmers upriver.

In his report, SA’s royal commissioner, Brett Walker, SC, a distinguished constitutional lawyer, throws the book at NSW and Federal governments for their “gross negligence” and their failure to follow scientific advice.

In particular, he is scathing about how MDBA modelling failed to factor in the effects of climate change certainties into how much water was a “sustainable” amount to be taken from the river system for commercial reasons. The failure is systemic, historically traceable to at least 2009. It may prove catastrophic. Walker notes, however,

“The damage and depletion of the water resources, ecosystems and biodiversity of the Murray-Darling Basin since European colonisation, and the trauma and dislocation experienced by Aboriginal people, are part of the same story. The necessary work to protect and restore the river systems must go hand in hand with the necessary measures to include Traditional Owners centrally in decision-making about water planning and management.”

Walker castigates politicians for their “head in the sand” attitude to climate change and also buckets the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) for its unfathomable predilection for secrecy; its history of “grossly inadequate disclosure, explanation and consultation” in the handling of its responsibilities under the Water Act (2007) which regulates how water is allocated to irrigation or environmental flows in Australia’s largest river system.

In a world record water rort, The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has contrived to lower the required environmental release; deny the river its allotted 70 billion litres of water. No wonder fish are dying. Yet NSW wants to take even more.

NSW regional water minister and deputy leader of NSW Nationals, Niall Blair cops a personal serve, Friday, from Walker for his “grossly irresponsible” and crude remarks in promising to stick the state plan in response to the Menindee kill. Anything less would “blow up” the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

It’s an alarming sign of the inertia, ignorance and hostility to sound advice as much as the vested political interests that threaten the adoption of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

Blair wants to press on with the controversial Menindee Lakes project, a water-saving scheme to reduce the size of the lakes and empty them more often, a proposal which federal authorities caution would not help the environment – or as Walker puts it “threatens the national plan to save the Basin from irreparable degradation.”

NSW Nationals worry they’ll lose the local seat of Barwon as a result of the fish kills. Enter The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party whose donors include The Shooting Industry Foundation, a well-funded lobby group for relaxed or “simpler” gun laws and more gun sales. The party’s website takes pot-shots at “extreme” animal activists.

All up, the Shooters just shriek conservation and climate change science. Far too green for a National Party voter.

On the federal stage, The Nationals’ Big Dave Littleproud, Minster for Agricultural Resources and Water rorts, walks tall on the side of climate science denial. Last August, he told a Q&A audience and ABC viewers always eager to hear ignorance paraded in the interests of “balance” that he doesn’t understand the link between climate change and drought. Making the link is a “big call” for Dave. He does not “give a rats if it’s man-made or not.”

In minutes, it’s clear that for Littleproud, burning coal is the only way to safely generate reliable electricity.

This week’s fish kill? Dave is quick to blame the drought, but Walker painstakingly details a man-made river drought. Busts a National Party billion dollar boondoggling triumph. At least four billion dollars of taxpayers’ money, has been given by the commonwealth, over the last few years, to farmers and agricultural groups for water-saving infrastructure projects that don’t work. Water buybacks are cheaper and more effective.

Brett Walker calculates that projects cost taxpayers two and a half times more than water buybacks to put the same amount of water back into the system. Over ten years, the cost of buybacks was $2026 per megalitre. $970 was the cost of purchasing a megalitre of water through efficiency upgrades funded under the Sustainable rural water use and infrastructure program (SRWUIP). As Bernard Keane notes it’s a lot of “free money for irrigators”.

Can the boondoggle, in fact, be busted? It’s not shaping well. Does the Federal Minister have the independence, authority and experience? DLP, as Littleproud is known to mates and staff, was Barnaby’s pick, a shrewd move that excluded the vastly more experienced Darren Chester in favour of the work experience boy; someone who’d mind his seat until Barney regained the leadership and the water portfolio for himself.

And Joyce is especially proud of his boondoggle. In his 2015 white paper, he brags:

The Government is funding the largest investment in upgrading and refurbishing irrigation infrastructure in Australia’s history, investing in the future of competitive irrigated agriculture, as well as community sustainability. To implement the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, the Commonwealth has committed almost $13 billion through a range of programmes in the Basin through to 2024.

Clearly, Dave’s backers give him a boost. Sort of. Fairfax’s Mark Kenny gushes in a puff-piece how the “nerdy and bookish” looking Littleproud looks much bigger in real life he is than on TV and how his electorate Maranoa, the only National electorate to return a No vote in the same sex marriage survey, is three times the size of Victoria).

But the key is SA. Premier, Steven Marshall, who hollered for a Royal Commission while in opposition, says Walker has exceeded his brief. He claims the commissioner was supposed to look at a bit of water theft and leave it that. Still, it’s something he and Scott Morrison will get around to looking at later in the year. If Morrison’s still around.

Unafraid of doubling up, he’ll also look into the legality of the plan, something, it could be argued, Walker has just done. But Steve’s a crack-up as he wraps up with his dead-pan stand-up routine: “But I can assure every single person in this state, we are taking this royal commission report extraordinarily seriously.”

“Extraordinary and serious” doesn’t begin to describe the icy look given Josh Frydenberg by Kenneth Hayne, QC, who responds with a wintry glare as Josh Frydenberg tries to trap him into a photo-opportunity, Friday, as the Commissioner hands over his report to a Minister whose government is a big part of the problem. And let’s not forget that for a year in 2005-6, Frydenberg worked for Deutsche Bank as Director for Global Banking.

Hayne’s interim report depicts a finance industry rotten at the core by a culture of rampant greed and regulators too ineffectual to do anything. It’s safe to assume the theme continues in the final report. What’s wrong?

As Hayne puts it “Too often, the answer seems to be greed – the pursuit of short-term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty. How else is charging continuing advice fees to the dead to be explained?” the royal commissioner writes.

Frydenberg is all smiles and faux-jovial affability; a rictus of offensive charm imposed over a shit-eating grin while former High Court Justice Commissioner Kenneth Hayne AC QC, skewers him with an icy disdain.

Hayne, a blackletter, black belt, in forensic dissection of fool and fraud, quite properly deigns a request to shake hands with jolly Josh, currently our federal treasurer, who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept a royal commission into banking. Twenty six times you denied me, Hayne’s face says. Spin collides with integrity as Frydenberg’s charm offensive blows up in his face. It may be the most damaging encounter of a damaging week.

“Nope” is all Hayne needs to say in a salutary display of personal authority, integrity and laconic brevity when a photographer suggests the pair shake hands. It’s a refreshing contrast to our palaverous political discourse.

Frydenberg may be frozen out Friday but an eerie silence stalks the land. Two dragon-slaying royal commissioners bust banksters and expose the Murray Darling Water allocation system as a billion dollar water-rorting scandal. But no-one stands up for their nation. Instead there’s a rush of weaving and ducking for cover.

Royal Commissioners Hayne and Walker file reports no-one in government could like – even a fit and functioning NSW state or federal government that could be held to account. There’s a slow bicycle race by states and Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to say the least they can. Then it’s only to disavow responsibility.

Faux-Mo, our PM for standards, applies the choke-hold. He won’t release Hayne’s report, until Monday, giving himself time to remind us how to trust our banks. Swiftly, shiftily, he fills the gap with his own spin on that old standby trope – the table – as if a royal commission alleging criminal negligence and fraud is somehow an ambit claim; a matter for negotiation. He also pretends he doesn’t know what’s foreshadowed in the interim report.

“It will be a question of what suggestions or measures they put on the table but I will be very mindful that I want to see the oil that lubricates our financial system – which is access to credit – continues to flow, otherwise the consequences would be quite significant,” Mr Morrison tells Nine’s increasingly pliant newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Brisbane. He’s protecting the banks before the report is even published.

ScoMo’s propaganda 101 technique misrepresents the issue as a choice between not being able to borrow at all and seeing banks held accountable for a series of criminal acts exposed by the commission which include charging fees to dead people and banks and super funds charging fees for no service. As Bill Shorten says on ABC Insiders, Sunday, the choice ScoMo offers is between an unethical banking system or no system at all.

Prosecutions may well be one outcome; civil or criminal referrals to state prosecutors could be made.

On the water front, or ruined, dried-up backwater as it is now, there’s another massive fish kill at Menindee but shit happens according to David Littleproud, the former rural bank manager, whose RM Williams gear helps show he really knows the many hardships faced by those who live in the bush.

“Save the Gravy” Dave fronts the cameras again; reminds greenies, Guardian-readers and townies to stop carping. Again, the choice he offers is between a corrupt, unethical system and no river water allocation scheme at all.

“The basin plan is lawful and was lawfully made”, he blusters, despite Brett Walker SC’s excoriating report which accuses the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) of negligence and being “incapable of acting lawfully”.

There’s little chance Littleproud has time to read the report. Gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions by Commonwealth officials are just some of the multi-billion dollar failures of the MDBA to save Australia’s largest river system, according to Walker. Walker has to name names, including, of course that of Barnaby Joyce.

Star of the aquatic show, former Minister for water-rorting, Barnaby “boondoggle” Joyce is invisible, either white-anting Michael McCormack or busy showing prospective vendors around his property at Gwabegar which he bought for 12 years ago for $572,000 but must now sell, for family reasons, for a modest $878,000.

Those interested should note “the dams are full and cattle and sheep prices are very good”, a detail which will greatly cheer other farmers in drought, especially those downstream on the Darling. Above all the two parcels of land are openly advertised as being covered by an as-yet unused coal-seam gas petroleum exploration licence, PEL 428, owned by resources group, Comet Ridge, a detail old Barney used to shy away from.

Nothing to see here, says a government which has nothing to say for itself either. ScoMo’s “major” speech, another modest “headland”, “landmark” production, Tuesday, gets even less attention. Voters can’t stop yawning.

By Sunday, Nine newspapers publish a drop announcing that the last kids will leave Nauru for the US. Heaven. Not only will it ensure they don’t see their families, they can join government workers in living off food stamps. How does this square with “Peter Dutton has revealed that 13 refugee children on Nauru are with parents deemed national security risks by the US” late last year, tweets Michelle Grattan. But no-one’s over-impressed.

No-one listens. Fewer take ScoMo seriously. John Hewson jokes the PM’s “preaching to the deserted”. His slogans about growing 1.2 million jobs don’t match the lived daily reality of voters whose wages have flatlined for years.

Experts point out that jobs are not created by governments overnight. It takes decades to create the conditions favourable to a buoyant labour market. Others note that the promise is hollow. Our average job growth is around 200,000 a year for the last ten years. And how many of these are full time? Another evangelical gets this handball.

Party paragon of integrity and icon of probity, the unofficial minister for truthiness, Stewart Robert, is brilliantly deployed to assure voters that all the new jobs will be part-time, a claim he has to retract. Quickly. A truer figure, he admits would be around half. Even Leigh Sales is on to how ScoMo talks out of the back of his neck, pointing out to him that half his jobs will be taken up by migrant workers. Yet Morrison has promised to cap immigration.

Diversion! Furiously, Morrison flogs Labor with the big stick he has left over unused from his power company standover stunt. Energy corporations are laughing all the way to the bank. Energy Australia posted a 200% profit last August, a rise in earnings for the Hong Kong-based utility company from $129 million to $375 million.

Of course the taxpayer effectively gives our battling power companies generous support. Investigative journalist, Michael West reports Victoria Power Networks, paid no tax at all on a four year income of $6,120,404,139.

It should pay tax. Just the health problems caused by coal-fired power stations cost the nation $2.6 billion a year.

As a user of fossil fuels, Victoria Power and Energy Australia are both also eligible for the fabulously generous fuel tax subsidy scheme, and a range of other subsidies, which, last year, totalled $11,692 million dollars – that’s around $12 billion each year that won’t be spent on schools, hospitals or age pensions.

Labor will put up your power bills. Taxes. Run by union thugs. Tie businesses up in union knots. You can’t trust ’em. He fondly reprises the golden oldies from Abbott’s glorious but pyrrhic victory of 2013 when all you had to do was oppose everything Labor proposed – and promise to scrap a carbon tax that wasn’t a carbon tax to lower electricity bills – which it could never do and lie about no new taxes. And make up absurd scares.

Whyalla was going to be wiped off the map. Lamb roasts would cost $100. Barnaby Joyce’s incredible carbon tax-boosted price estimate of abattoirs having to charge $575,000 per beast at least is worth a re-run, ScoMo.

A fatuous two per cent News Poll rise puts lead in ScoMo’s pencil. But that’s only two party preferred. His approval rating is slumping along with his spectacularly bad captain’s call to parachute Warren Mundine into Gilmore. ScoMo sends an email the Gilmore Liberal Party, half of whom have resigned in disgust. It’s another master-stroke. Sheer genius. The old impersonal unsolicited self-justifying generic email template is bound to win everyone back.

Tuesday, The Australian reports its latest Newspoll is a “lifeline” for Morrison, with a “bounce” in the polls – a lift of two points on a two-party preferred basis (Labor on 53, the Coalition on 47). It’s coy about how many it contacted but typically it contacts up to 2000 people – a sample size with an error rate of two to three per cent.

Once this is factored in, the so-called bounce of two per cent immediately is meaningless. A distracting public stoush always works wonders. Team ScoMo brawl openly over rats in the ranks as lone wolves appear.

At war with itself over climate change, energy, refugees, the government is hopelessly divided. Homophobic reactionaries still smart from losing their gay marriage gambit, but have yet to demand action on the religious freedoms ruse to reintroduce discrimination. The election plan is to bag Labor and to kill Bill Shorten. And scare. Scrapping dividend imputation and reducing negative gearing will cause the economy to tank.

Christopher Pyne says that Labor will cause a recession which is the Liberal party version of Pauline Hanson’s eminently sensible plan to get everyone to use up all the electricity to bring the grid down.

Truly sensible would be for ScoMo to call an election soon while he still has candidates to field. Delaying further is not going to give him any election policies, his party’s too divided for that. And the hard graft of dealing with the Royal Commissions – both its recommendations but especially the issues they address cannot simply be left.


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  1. Aortic

    Many years ago the company I worked for approached one of our banks for a loan to buy some property and develop it. The people we dealt with at the bank were what I would call good old fashioned fellows intent on doing business with the company if the deal stacked up. Over the years we were invited to various bank functions and latterly in conversation with some of the young “Turks” fresh from some economic qualifications no doubt I thought to myself they might as well be talking in Swahili. I actually intentionally walked away on many occasions in absolute disbelief and despair for what might evolve. It surely has and quite frankly the findings of the Royal Commission are no surprise to me at all. Selfish greed and avarice condoned from the top down as long as the execs were sufficiently remunerated to overlook unconscionable practices and the precious shareholders blinded by ongoing returns. Had to eventually be exposed and jail time is too good for many of the shysters involved.

  2. Josephus

    Totally damning. Damn them. They stink like the fish. Can you please send this article to the Press? Even try the SMH? So glad the Minister was shunned. Should be the rule with these denialists on so many fronts. But then, critics are all Greenies and Communists (same thing). Even QCs, I expect.
    Can public debate sink any lower?

  3. Matters Not

    Yep those banks are terrible, terrible bastards (apparently) yet we effectively laud them every time we substitute the taxpayer funds concept for government funds. Clearly we should recognise the enemy – it is us.

    We simply don’t have any deep understanding of how democracy is supposed to work. It seems that basic democratic concepts are far too difficult for far too many. Maybe the next generation will be better educated – like using facts to generate concepts and then applying same. But probably not.

  4. New England Cocky

    Excellent analysis David and simultaneously depressing. Bring on the Federal election NOW!!

    The family of Little Dave, who has some trouble identifying his partner (something about Notional$”Family Values”), has a family interest in the water theft from the MDB, so does that compromise his position as Minister for Agriculture and sole authority as Minister for Water? Perhaps he is more accurately described as the Maranoa Mental Midget with little to be proud of.

    As an Australian voter in New England I am ashamed of the ongoing farcical performance of Barnyard Joke, the representative of the Notional$ in our electorate. Why do ladies in Tamworth support an Adulterer? Is it because Tamworth is the Country Adultery Capital?

  5. Bring It Down

    Excellent article, a great summary of the corruption and absurdity down under. And, the stupidity of many voters who love voting against their interests.

  6. Barry Thompson.

    Another excellent piece David. Thank you.
    The put down by Hayne of Frydenberg was lovely to watch.The Treasurer is right out of his depth in that portfolio and such a smarmy, full of bullshit and bluster individual.

  7. Kaye Lee

    Barnaby Joyce tilted the Murray-Darling Basin Authority towards irrigation interests over the environment when he was agriculture minister, the former director of the National Farmers’ Federation has claimed.

    Mal Peters, a highly regarded figure in rural politics who chaired the authority’s own advisory committee on the northern basin, says the authority, post-Joyce, remains “extremely reticent to make tough decisions”.

    And he warns the proposed changes to the plan in the northern basin – a 70-gigalitre cut to the environmental water recovery target that his advisory committee did not support – will mean the Darling River will run dry one year in three.

    “When I started as chair, I had the impression that the MDBA was motivated by finding a balance between competing environmental, social and economic outcomes,” he said.

    “However, it was my observation and impression that the MDBA’s direction changed when Barnaby Joyce became minister for agriculture and water resources. At that time it appeared to me that the MBDA [sic] shifted its approach further towards irrigation interests.”

  8. David Tyler

    Will the states be able to work with the feds to sort out the Murray Darling scandal? A notorious meeting in 2016 between SA Water Minister and his federal and state counterparts suggests it may be a challenge.

    ABC’s Nick Harmsen recounts,

    “At the time, it was reported that Mr Hunter repeatedly said “f*** you” to Victoria’s Water Minister Lisa Neville and called her a “c” before storming out of the dinner at Adelaide’s Rigoni’s restaurant. He also reportedly told the gathering, which included then federal water resource minister Barnaby Joyce, “f you all”.

    Hunter, later, denied using “some particularly inappropriate words”, but admitted to using “inappropriate language” and issued an apology.

    The royal commission report states that a “hard conversation” took place at the restaurant.

  9. David Tyler

    Interesting to hear Mal Peters on Barnaby’s tilting, Kaye. Barney’s “triple bottom line” – which effectively meant the environment was suddenly relegated to a third party in a trifecta which also included social and economic factors – ie keeping wealthy agribusiness afloat is not only an brazen deception, it flouts the Water Act and as Walker points out, it’s illegal. As was Joyce’s speech in the Shepparton Pub where he openly boasted of having fixed up the Greenies so the farmers could get more water to irrigate. But the gerrymandered National (docked) tail wags the Liberal dog in the so-called Coalition government.

  10. Kaye Lee

    A campaign involving 13 farming groups like the National Irrigators Council, National Farmers Federation, state farming bodies in NSW and Queensland, local irrigation groups and Cotton Australia wanted the MDBA to stop at 278GL saying it represented the volume of water already recovered in the Northern Basin.

    ….a spokesperson for Minister Joyce said Mr Burke trying to make a political ‘upstream versus downstream’ issue out of the Northern Basin review was “pathetic and disappointing”.

    “The MDBA has clearly stated in its advice to Ministers that their recommendations “will have no material effect on environmental outcomes in the southern Basin”,” a statement said.

    “In fact, MDBA modelling shows that flows over the barrages would be reduced by an average of just 3GL per year against the existing plan – that’s 3GL out of average annual flows over the barrages of 7218GL, or 0.04 per cent.

    “Further, MDBA modelling shows that under their recommended changes, SA is likely to receive increased flows in drier periods.”

    “Now who is playing politics with water?”

    Mal Peters said the advisory committee became increasingly frustrated that water, having been taken away from northern irrigators for the purpose of the environment, was being pumped by irrigators downstream under plans like the NSW Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan.

    Peters said the final water-sharing plan contained changes that went beyond what was consulted on and that he considered that the NSW minister – at the time Katrina Hodgkinson – was ultimately responsible for those changes that were made without consultation.

    The changes included allowing irrigators to use larger pump sizes to extract water from the river and pump during low flows, he said.

    The latest criticisms coincide with the NSW ombudsman’s release of its final report into the state government’s failure to adequately enforce water laws, as highlighted in the ABC’s Four Corners program.

    It highlighted allegations of water theft in the Barwon-Darling. Two cotton irrigators – the Harris and Barlow families – are now being prosecuted.

  11. Kaye Lee

    That’s the same Katrina Hodgkinson that is going to run in Gilmore against Warren Mundine.

  12. helvityni

    Love Hewson taking the piss out of Scomo, more please…..

    We need Hayne’s iciness towards the wrong-doers, even the 40 degree Celsius did not thaw it….

    Littleproud, it’s all in the name : so little to be proud of….

    PS. Ms Sales still finished the Scomo interview with her sweetest smile….will never happen with Shorten…?

  13. Peter F

    It will take many years for this country ( and I say country advisedly) to recover from this ‘rape and pillage’ coalition. Do we have time?

    I decided they had no morals when they pulled numbers out of a hat to send young men to their death in Vietnam for their own political advantage. Nothing they have done since has given me cause to change my mind.

  14. David Evans

    That Couldn’t Happen In Australia,.Could It?

    Why do we suspect that the Federal “governments” Born- Agains’ have all been actively praying, via their very own taxpayer funded “Christian” TV/ Streaming channels over the w/e. With (“totally unnecessary” x 26) Banking Royal Commission report being handed down, and after having Gods’ guidance all w/e while they “studied the report”, and giving themselves an amnesty all day today, we do suspect their stockbrokers phones will be actually melting today as they desperately try to avoid any personal costs to them…..No doubt the opposition will be blamed, for anything and everything…..Ho Hum!

  15. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of studying the report….

    In my continuing search for the yet to be published 2018 State of the Forests Report which may (or may not) give us a better idea about the real LULUCF emissions reduction claims, I have just found out it is “with the Minister” waiting for his approval. They are “not expecting it to be released in the next two weeks but hopefully soon after that”.

    Ima guessing Littleproud could be in for a double whammy, water and trees, hence the delay.

  16. jake

    why are all the msm whinging about what labour might do (mostly misrepresented, false or look over there) but there’s deadly silence over what the lying nasties and their adulterous buddies have actually been ruining.

    the ‘labour will make your house price drop’ is headlined while the lnp et al have seen house prices drop 10% but na not their fault,

    ‘labour set up the murray darling fiasco so it’s all their fault’ but these turkeys have been running it, changing it and ruining it for 5 years but na not their fault

    the banks are a disgrace and the lying nasties fought tooth and nail against a royal commission but again nothing to do with them, the banks are great and if you touch them the sky will fall in and we won’t be invited on their boards when we retire gracefully

    yet skew news and their abc are doing nothing but slam labour policies and labour generally – when will they get it through their thick heads that labour is not in government (yet) – the COALition of muppets is and the buck should stop with them but no all you hear is ‘but labour’ or ‘kill bill’ and ‘we had nothing to do with it (which is probably correct because a bigger do nothing government would be hard to find)’

    i’m so over it but have nightmares about the 40 something % who still vote for these turkeys, and the media feed them the pap they need to keep happy that way – please tell me enough people are seriously annoyed enough to actually think before they just tick a box

    having lived in what’s his name deputy pm electorate and then unfortuately fungus taylor’s – i have met the locals, lovely people many of them but they are brainwashed – the old ‘ but the nats are for the country people ‘ is still loud and proud and you might as well hit your head against a wall

    have now moved to gilmore – what a mess – i can’t remember which sleasy party mundine moved to before he realised he had no chance of being elected for them and cosied up to scummo and sorry for the guy who got the boot but a certain ex policeman from qld has given ex coppers a bad name and i have no problem with katrina h but anyone who is in a party that would elect the beetrorter as leader gets no votes from me but roll on the election sooner rather than later

    when does parliament come back to play school – scummo should be shaking in his boots

  17. Stephengb

    Fantastic report Mr Tyler,

    Oh the shame of these facts pointing eliberate and calculated corruption, at the highest levels in the LNP.

    Disgusting greed.

    Words escape me!

  18. Kaye Lee


    Great comment but I would look into Katrina Hodgkinson if I was you. She caused a lot of the water problems we are now experiencing.

    ” Documents show Katrina Hodgkinson changed plan to allow irrigators to extract up to 32% more after lobbying

    A water-sharing plan for the Barwon-Darling was altered by the former New South Wales minister for primary industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, even though public consultations on the draft plan had ended and her bureaucrats had already submitted a draft for her to sign.

    The changes made it more favourable to irrigators and delivered valuable additional water during low flows. According to some modelling it may have increased legal extractions by irrigators by 32%.”

    She shouldn’t just get a leave pass to change seats and start again with supposedly clean hands.

  19. Diane

    Littleproud probably has matters closer to home that are taking his attention – didn’t I read that he is so impressed with Joyce’s example that he’s trying the same himself? Allegedly, obviously, I may be wrong, and obviously rumours on Twitter might be unsubstantiated… 🙂

  20. Kaye Lee

    Hmmmm…..interesting Diane.

    A crack team of New Idea investigative journalists are in the process of examining rumours that National’s MP David Littleproud’s marriage breakdown was the result of an affair with a staff member.

    “We are attempting to confirm if Littleproud has done a Barnaby or an Andrew Broad,” says one New Idea senior editor.

    “At this stage we are searching for any evidence of a Littleproudababy.”

    If the rumours are proven to be true, Littleproud will have committed a breach of standards under the recently established “bonk ban”.

    Littleproud was a staunch defender of the “sanctity of traditional marriage” and voted ‘no’ in the parliament against gay marriage.

  21. Grumpy Geezer

    Now THAT is the sort of meaty, meaningful content i want to read. Even though i’ve popped a few blood vessels as a consequence.

  22. New England Cocky

    The MDB problem is’ water theft’ by broad acre farmers in SW Qld and NW NSW. It has been occurring for decades and there has been negligible oversight by NSW Water or Irrigation.

    Perhaps the most practical solution is to require each and every pump drawing water from the MDB to have a satellite monitoring device fitted that provides real time data on the times of pumping, the duration of pumping and so the volume removed from the MDB to a central regional office from which punitive responses may be despatched for offenders.

    These farmers believe that they have a God given right to take as much water as they want from the MDB, regardless of any legislation. It is not their fault that the river runs uphill to the pumps!!

    It was not their fault that the crop spraying planes did not switch off the sprays as they passed over town during pre-harvest defoliation of cotton, and now each spray plane is required to have fitted a GPS real time monitoring device to locate the plane for any claims of town garden damage.

    It was not their fault that the overloaded wheat trucks pressed longitudinal grooves into the main street of Moree that the RTA ‘fixed” by using the weigh bridge dockets that were used to pay for wheat, to also pick up overloading and fines for the offending truck drivers. The problem was solved overnight.

  23. Christina Heath

    Kaye Lee. Katrina Hodgkinson indeed requires a great deal of ‘looking into’ and I am astounded she appears to have slipped under the radar as far as her involvement into the scandal surrounding the Murray Darling basin.
    Katrina was my local member,normally a rusted on Nationals seat. As Minister for Primary Industries, she changed the Barwon Darling water-sharing plan 2012,against the advice of bureaucrats to benefit water allocations to irrigators.

    Katrina had what you would call a dream run as local member for many years. She did receive criticism for her lack of support for local communities that had to amalgamate but this was not widespread amongst the large electorate. We were totally gobsmacked when she announced her intention to resign ONE WEEK after the 4 Corners expose of 24 /7/2017, “Who’s benefitting from the billions spent on the Murray-Darling”. There had been no indication that she had any intention of quitting Parliament. She gave the usual explanation, wanting to spend time with her family. The resulting by-election resulted in a large swing against the Nationals.

    Katrina’s sabbatical did not last long. She was elected Federal Vice president of the National Party in 2018. She is a partner for lobbying firm Barton Deakin (maintaining of course there is no conflict of interest here!!). She intends to run for the National Party in the seat of Gilmore.

    Apart from The Guardian, there appears to be very little scrutiny of Ms Hodgkinson. Like the rest of the Nationals in particular, complicit in the devastation of the Murray Darling,Katrina’s role needs to be investigated. The electorate of Gilmore deserve better.

  24. jake

    kaye lee

    thanks for the heads up – moved there not long before she did a runner, thought it was a bit sudden but didn’t hear details as we were miles out of town – but colour me not surprised – there had to be a reason for her to be a nat – so another one with a lot of baggage to be hidden by media

  25. Diane

    What does it say about the media in this country when the only investigative journalists work for New Idea?

  26. David Stakes

    Like the true conservative he is will go down to the wire on the election call. Hoping that the almighty will deliver a miracle, or the end of days.

  27. Shannon

    MSM would never publish this because it just too good, too truthful and too wise. Thank heaven for The Aimn.

  28. Shay

    This will never be published on MSM. It’s too real, too truthful and too wise plus some funny bits.
    If only politicians thought like this. It would be transforming for our society.

  29. Kronomex

    There will be much beating of chests, tearing of hair, and wringing of hands from the banks (you can bet they are cursing Kenneth Hayne up hill an down dale) as they assail us with the same dreary bs they always spout, “We’ve listened. We’re sorry. We’ll learn. We’ll change our ways.” On and on ad nauseam. They’ll make cosmetic changes with the ultimate result being (drum roll) that nothing will change as the old ingrained habits will return with a vengeance.

    Scummo and cronies will no doubt try and claim the credit for “pulling the banks into line” all the while trying to find ways to soften the blows for their corporate donors. Nothing changes.

  30. Barry Thompson.

    Investigative journalists at the no idea-you have got to be joking. They should be had for falsely advertising on the cover what actually appears inside.
    I trust you were being sarcastic Kaye Lee. In comparison, you are a Pulitzer Prize winner.

  31. Matters Not

    Just watched the press conference re the RC into the financial sector. Where is Australia’s equivalent to CNN’s Jim Acousta who continued to press Trump in recent times? In the press conference today. Murphy and another pressed the Treasurer to explain why there was no apology for attempts to delay the RC.

    Guess what the answer was – Labor was worse (sort of). Not surprised just disgusted that the whole room (the Press Gallery) didn’t demand that the Treasurer reply more directly. Or failing that – just burst into laughter.

    Have they all caught the Sales’ disease?

  32. Paul Davis

    Just watched The Drum. Gosh does Caroline Overton, that doyen of News Corp professionalism, have ‘cash for comment’ deals with the big four? Even the two right wing finance/legal types Adam Carrel and Nicki Hutley looked embarrassed by her dribble.

    Poor Josh, how much humble pie did he eat before his grovelling press conference, thought he might vomit any moment. No Scotty standing by his side to reinforce their strong resolve to sort out this mess … oh, of course, Dear Leader only shows up to trumpet good news.

  33. wam

    Wow such a good read, loved the wrwr(world record water rort), inspires the slogan ‘no cotton south of the ord’, suggests a revisit to bradfield and assessment of the huge shallow recreational lakes in the system
    For this old traditionalist, it would be great if the murray could return some water to the sea.

    As for Katrina “It was a pleasure to work with Tony Burke during those years of negotiations, but it was even more delightful to work with my friend and colleague, Simon Birmingham.” ‘very interesting????

    ps Are there any scientists who declare that climate change is not natural? With 50% of Australians below average intelligence is ‘misandric’ (as a rabbottian described anthropomorphic) global warming – climate change confusing?

    pps in my experience people, who can’t spell a party name that has been in existence since 1912, has been a kiwi, a pom or a redneck.

  34. Kronomex

    Banking commission, LNP’s usual tired bullshit: ““Labor failed to do it when it was in power”” and the LNP and Mr. 26 Times for “Uh-uh, nope.” Scummo and his crew of crooks well and truly entrenched the failure until the pressure applied to them became overwhelming. As it is, lots of slaps on the wrists and I reckon not one single banker will be charged. Complete waste of time because we’ve heard it all before time and again and what happened? Not an efing thing except the banks found new ways of ripping everyone off…until the next time. Then it will be rinse and repeat…

  35. Matters Not

    Yes the financial sector’s dirty washing is on the line (sort of) and many fingers are pointing accompanied by the predictable gasps of oohs and aahs. Apparently we now know where the fundamental problem is. But maybe not.

    For all their faults (and they are many and varied), Banks in Australia pay their taxes. Indeed, Banks are tax paying heroes. Take the top taxpayer in Australia – it’s the Commonwealth Bank. Over a three year period, the CBA paid tax of $9,270,367,013 at a rate of 28.94%. Then there was Westpac which paid $8,248,758,970 at the rate of 27.81% Third in the taxpaying stakes was NAB followed by BHP (even after using a tax haven).

    Top 40 Taxpayers

    Contrast that with companies like GLENCORE INVESTMENT PTY LIMITED with a turnover of $27,929,635,183 (over 3 years) yet it paid zero tax. As did EXXONMOBIL AUSTRALIA PTY LTD with a turnover of $24,810,160,190 and ENERGY AUSTRALIA HOLDINGS LIMITED with a turnover nigh on $24 billion.

    When we speak about our taxpayer dollars being used for various payments, one wonders whether there is any realisation of who is paying what tax and perhaps, more importantly, who is not paying anything – zero. One wonders when we are going to really do something about it in a serious way. Sure we muck about at the edges but we don’t get really serious. Why aren’t governments in the shaming business or better still – in the boycotting business. One wonders what would be the outcome if no Australians bought their energy from ENERGY AUSTRALIA.

    Yep there’s lots of dirty washing to be viewed. And there’s lots of action that should be taken. Or must we have a Royal Commission before we ooh and aah?

    And perhaps we don’t need a RC to explain that when it comes to the public purse it belongs to the citizens – the voters – and NOT the taxpayers who have absolutely no control how over how i’s spent.

  36. Matters Not

    Speaking of taxpayers, I am a net taxpaying bludger – as are approximately half of the population. That is, (these days), I receive more from the public purse than I contribute. If net taxpaying was a criteria for the right to vote (the franchise) – I couldn’t. Just don’t qualify. All the Banks could. They qualify. Some miners, like BHP, could – etc.

    Thus when people write about spending taxpayer dollars, I feel insulted. Clearly, I’m not included. But It’s my dollars (as a citizen) that are being spent. It’s not taxpayer dollars, The dollars belong to a non net taxpaying bludger like myself,.. Anyone else feel insulted? If not – then why not? Lol.

  37. paul walter

    We see much of Katrina Hodgkinson on TV show “The Drum”. It is the norm to include spivs and sophist paid mouthpieces. Today there were three trying to justify the Banks nauseating nonsenses, the worst being the dreaded Overington.

    I noticed somewhere today that Warren Mundine, presumed poor lad from the backblocks being forced to divest himself of $ 5million in shares on conflict of interest to run for the seat his backers scrounged from the candidate chosen earlier and he is another regular on the Drum, a show that needs to include fewer Institute types and more actual thinkers.

  38. Kronomex

    Of course Scummo and Co. are going to accept and be “seen to do something” about the banks, there’s an election looming. It’s all smoke and mirrors, which is nothing new for a party, that is so tainted with ineptitude, corruption, more than just a touch of fascism, and plainly woeful, in government that is about to be wiped out in a few months –

    The other I noticed in the photo: was Scummo perhaps feeling the ghostly touch of the electoral wipeout noose around his neck?

  39. Zathras

    Despite saying they will implement all the Commission findings, nothing substantial can really be done before the next election so it will become just a convenient promise generator to be refined and reinterpreted after the election. Remember Abbott’s “no cuts..” assurance?

    Like the same-sex-marriage legislation, the government was forced into this position but that won’t stop them from milking it as being all their own idea as well.


  40. Peter F

    “they will implement all the Commission findings”….I heard the following words ‘in whole or in part’.

    Was I the only one who heard this?

  41. Robin Day

    hey ho,we’re f***ed. Enjoy a good song.Massive love to all you empathisers

  42. terence mills

    Anna Bligh [for the banks] this morning said of the commissions paid to mortgage brokers that ‘it would be an imposition on struggling families to have to pay a fee for advice from mortgage brokers rather than have a commission (hidden and undisclosed and frequently trailing for the lengt of the loan) paid by the banks.

    Who exactly does she think is paying the commission, the banks out of their pockets ? Of course not, the commission is paid by the customer out of their loan establishment costs and repayments – but never disclosed.

    The Royal Commission are quite right, a mortgage broker should be upfront with a client and say that they will source loan options from say six lenders and for this service they will charge a one off fee of X.

    The ducking and weaving has already started !

  43. Kronomex

    “Mr Turnbull urged the banks to work in the interests of their customers, comparing their job to that of a doctor advising a patient. You get back to this fundamental point. It’s really about trust,” he said. “You’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and ask yourself, is this the best thing for my customer?”


    Somewhat paraphrased and this could easily be about the LNP –

    “Ordinary Australian urged the government to work in the interests of the people, comparing their job to that of a doctor advising a patient. You get back to this fundamental point. It’s really about trust,” he said. “You’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of the people and ask yourself, is this the best thing for the people?” We can easily guess the answer to that question.

    See what I mean about “beating of chests, tearing of hair, and wringing of hands”. Another bank wanker onion crying his little eyes out –

    Ultimately, sod all will happen and they’ll go on their merry ways to continue ripping the little people off.

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