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Transparency, accountability and integrity are nice words

Addressing the National Press Club two months ago about proposed reforms to the reporting of politicians’ expenses (which have not happened yet), Malcolm Turnbull said “These reforms speak to the heart of Liberal values – transparency, accountability and integrity.”

You gotta be kidding me.

The following are just a few examples of their “transparency, accountability and integrity.”

*Defence has approved four military exports to Saudi Arabia in the past year and the Australian government has led the push for more. But the government is refusing to release details of the approved military sales, citing commercial-in-confidence rules.

*The UK-based Airwars organisation says Australia remains one of the least transparent members of the international military coalition, consistently refusing to disclose almost any information about air strikes by RAAF aircraft or acknowledge any incidents that may have produced civilian casualties.

*George Brandis was responsible for raids confiscating the evidence of Australia illegally bugging the cabinet offices in East Timor when Australia and Timor were negotiating a deal to share revenue from oil and gas deposits under the Timor Sea. He also confiscated the passport of the whistleblower so he could not testify in the International Court of Justice.

*When shadow Communications Minister Stephen Conroy revealed the truth about the rollout of the Coalition’s Fraudband, his office and the home of one of his staffers were raided by the AFP who just happened to take an NBN employee with them who was allowed to photograph the evidence, despite it later being ruled subject to parliamentary privilege. Two NBN employees were subsequently sacked for revealing the truth.

*In March 2015, the former head of the Agriculture Department Paul Grimes sent a letter to Barnaby Joyce regarding the improper changing of Joyce’s incorrect statements in Hansard.

Grimes stated “I am writing to advise you that I no longer have confidence in my capacity to resolve matters relating to integrity with you.”

A day after receiving the letter, Mr Joyce’s office warned Mr Grimes that, on the request of Mr Joyce, the letter would be deleted from government records. Ten days later, Mr Grimes was sacked.

The independent Information Commissioner ruled the letter should be made available. Mr Joyce’s department fought that ruling, spent $80,000 on engaging Ernst & Young to review its public information processes, and then fought the matter through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal before giving up the fight just after Parliament rose in October last year.

*The Brandis diary saga took well over a thousand days and cost tens of thousands of dollars in court time and taxpayer-funded lawyers to fight the case in the AAT and two levels of court before finally handing it over six months after being instructed to do so by the courts.

This is not an isolated incident. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mitch Fifield have taken The Australian and Crikey, respectively, to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal seeking to avoid handing over their diaries.

*Information about asylum seekers has been suppressed under the excuse of “operational matters.” Doctors and service providers who work in immigration detention centres have been gagged.

Dr Richard Kidd said the Australian Border Protection Act presents a threat to whistleblower doctors working in detention centres as they could face two years in prison if they publicly disclose failures in detention health care.

Psychiatrist Dr Peter Young revealed the immigration department had explicitly told International Health and Medical Services to ”withdraw” figures showing children in detention were suffering very high levels of mental illness.

*The Department of Education has again refused to release its modelling on how much university degrees will cost when it introduces partial fee deregulation in 2018. The department admitted it has the data, but won’t release it because it is advice to the government.

Last year the department knocked back a freedom of information request by the national teacher’s union, the NTEU, for any briefs, spreadsheets of potential fees or assessments of the impact of deregulation because the secret modelling contained commercially sensitive information about universities.

*George Brandis revised the service agreements under which the federal government provides funding to community legal centres around Australia, specifically stating that organisations cannot use Commonwealth money for any activity directed towards law reform or advocacy, effectively reintroducing Howard era gag clauses.

*Joe Hockey said one month before the 2013 election – “I’m not afraid to accept responsibility and I’m not afraid to be accountable. We will own it from day one. We will be responsible for the Australian economy.”

Mathias Cormann said in 2014 “we are taking responsibility and we will stand by how we perform against our forecasts.”

But, despite being in power for three and a half years, have you ever heard any of them speak about economics without blaming Labor?


In December 2016, Mathias Cormann, announced the finalisation of Australia’s first National Action Plan as part of the commitment the Australian Government made when it became a member of the Open Government Partnership.

“The Plan contains 15 ambitious commitments focused on: transparency and accountability in business; open data and digital transformation; access to government information; integrity in the public sector; and public participation and engagement.”

Nice words from the government. Shame their actions show them to be yet another lie.

Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.

– Jeremy Bentham


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  1. jagman48

    And we live in a free society. Pull the other leg.

  2. Klaus Petrat

    Yes, this is a government which legitimately could be called fascist. Secrecy is one of the hallmarks of fascism.

    And John Lord, whose writing I generally like, is still saying that Turnbull has another 6 months by which he needs to demonstrate that he governs for all.

    Sorry John L. Kaye is showing clearly which direction this government is taking. And spineless/characterless Turnbull is drifting along, wanting to be PM.


  3. Keitha Granville

    for a democratically elected government they make an excellent impression of a fascist state.

  4. Kaye Lee

    The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.

    – Niels Bohr

    Many of the benefits from keeping terrorism fear levels high are obvious. Private corporations suck up massive amounts of Homeland Security cash as long as that fear persists, while government officials in the National Security and Surveillance State can claim unlimited powers and operate with unlimited secrecy and no accountability.

    – Glenn Greenwald

  5. Terry2

    Interesting point you raise, Kaye. We seem to find room in the legislative agenda to waste parliamentary time with 18C but no time to get the parliamentary entitlements sorted or vote on marriage equality.

    Listening to the Senate this morning whilst in the car, the debate on 18C is not going the government’s way : even the passionate James Paterson failed to develop a convincing argument that ‘harass’ was so much better than insult , offend and humiliate : cheekily he noted support for the changes by a ‘former colleague’ of his who is Jewish – the colleague works for the IPA as did Paterson.

    As always Paterson raised the ordeal of the QUT students who were merely excercising their right to free speech – fair enough and we don’t need to litigate that again. But, one of those students or somebody else who was au fait with the matter did post on the QUT Facebook page : ITT NI**ERS.

    The students denied that posting and it could not be proven that one of them had actually posted that, had they done so the outcome would, I imagine, have been somewhat different.

    I’m not on Facebook but, I’m surprised that anonymous, untraceable postings can be made – if that is the case, it really doesn’t matter what is in the legislation if the racist poster can post anonymously.

  6. Kaye Lee

    The comment was made on one of the student’s accounts but he denies he did it and sued Terri Butler for implying that he did.

    Mr Thwaites, 25, a law student at the Queensland University of Technology, sued the Labor frontbencher for defamation, alleging he had been “greatly harmed and injured in his personal reputation” by her remarks, which were made on the ABC’s prime-time Q&A program.

    Fairfax Media understands the settlement is five figures and the services of Mr Thwaites’ lawyer, Anthony Morris, QC, would be somewhere between $5000 and $10,000.

    In her public apology, also a condition of the settlement, Ms Butler acknowledged the court had heard evidence Mr Thwaites was not the author of the offending Facebook post that appeared under his name.

  7. Möbius Ecko

    You left out Turnbull refusing to release the report on Sussan Ley’s tax payer funded trips (since paid back) to the Gold Coast to buy property at a highly discounted rate from a close friend and Liberal donor, who has received an extremely lucrative contract from the Liberal government. Turnbull openly refusing to release that report is an admission of Ley’s guilt, but worse the bigger story of how Ley’s friend got a very lucrative government contract and later selling Ley a property for less than she paid for it.

    It also looks like Dutton has also engaged in charging tax payers for trips to buy investment property. The report into that is also being withheld from the public.

    As always with a Liberal government is they say one thing and do another, but the worst I’ve seen for this is by far Turnbull.

  8. Terry2

    I note that Terri Butler said this in her apology :

    “Your legal representative, Mr Morris, QC, has described you as a victim of malicious identity theft or a prank, which I accept,” she wrote.

    So there is no way of Facebook identifying who posted that offensive remark ? Does that mean that on Facebook you can just deny it was you posting under your name and everything’s OK ?

  9. wam

    to do something in secret for a purpose is discussed after the fact but these people deliberately hide behind lies that never seem to come to light or questioned

    spot on as usual Terry2,
    if the legal decision was as has been posted, then nothing written on facebook can be attributed to the page listed.
    Pontius Pilate’s handwringing is alive and well.

    We could try it but QCs are expensive and ‘implied’ is variable depending on who you are and what questions are used?

  10. townsvilleblog

    The Turnbull govt has none of these fine adjectives they shamelessly lie to our faces a Crime and Corruption Commission is urgently needed in the federal sphere.

  11. Gangey1959

    Spot on as usual KL.
    @Harquebus. ”Like that Centurion”.
    As far as i know, unless you leave your facebook open your page is relatively secure.
    On that basis, considering that young thwaites in effect ”got off”,or at least had a win on a very dodgy premise, if I happen to piss anyone of on these pages I’m just going to say I’m sorry, but the cat walked on the keyboard, and he didn’t know what he was writing.
    It means I might have to get a cat too, but shit happens.
    I can always blame possums next door for that

  12. captainwise

    Transparency, accountability and integrity are not words to be used in the same sentence as Liberal Party.
    A very good summary of what these pretentious pretentors have been up to.

  13. Kyran

    “You gotta be kidding me.”
    We buy subs from a French company, without oversight. We are still working out if they are diesel or nuclear, with no less than three ‘defence miniatures’. Or if the company is legit.
    A company mired in merde.
    We buy planes from an American company, without oversight.
    We sell our resources to the worst possible purchasers, without oversight.
    Transparency. Accountability. Integrity.
    Good luck with that. When our politicians get to swap their jobs with the vested interests they fight so hard to protect, we, the people, are on a hiding to hell.
    Thank you Ms Lee and commenters. We have many rivers to cross. Take care

  14. Kaye Lee

    Submarine contract winner DCNS employed former Liberal staffer Sean Costello as its CEO for the bid. Mr Costello was chief-of-staff for former Defence Minister David Johnston.

    DCNS is alleged to have bribed officials linked to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and the corruption also involves allegations of murder. This is on top of other previous allegations of bribery against DCNS.

    Investigations have also revealed that a Hong Kong-based company called Terasasi Ltd in which the directors are Razak Baginda (friend of Malaysian PM) and his father, sold classified Malaysian navy defence documents to DCNS

    Bribery allegations against Australia’s $50 billion submarine contract winner

    The Australian Federal Police will investigate the leak of classified documents about the timeframe for building Australia’s new fleet of submarines.

    Anyone ever hear the result of that investigation? Or the investigation into Michael Lawler taking months of sick leave while he helped with Kathy Jackson’s court case? Or the investigation into Bronwyn Bishop’s past expense claims? Or…or…or…too many examples to list. Does anyone know what has happened with the Securency/One Note court case or is it still subject to a gag order?

  15. paulwalter

    Dark stuff. Be nice not to have a conscience, wouldn’t it. But whence then where would real meaning derive, if nothing means anything?

  16. Möbius Ecko

    Harquebus at 4:27 pm

    And NBN Co on the back of that ruling has come out stating this will not deter them from going hard at prosecuting any whistleblowers. To me that is an admission they have a lot to hide.

  17. Kaye Lee

    The only reason for hiding the true state of the NBN is to save Turnbull’s hide. I had cause to ring NBN last week. The fellow I spoke to admitted FttN is very unreliable. He said he would send me some information but he couldn’t at the moment because their computers were down – oh the irony.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Users of the $40 billion-plus ­National Broadband Network are receiving peak-time connection speeds as low as 1/500th of the ­service they are paying for, sparking complaints the nation’s biggest infrastructure project is failing to deliver the promised digital transformation.

    Many retailers argue they are being held back by NBN’s infrastructure, particularly the federal government’s preference for less expensive fibre to the node — which uses existing copper wire systems for the last leg of the connection to the home — as opposed to fibre to the home, which ­involves high-speed optical cable all the way. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is examining the issue.

    “I should be getting 100Mbs downloads and 40Mbs uploads but I’m getting 22Mbs downloads and 6.5Mbs uploads constantly,” he said.

    Mr Kettle said despite having bought a package of 100Mbs download/40Mbs upload from Telstra, the telco had told him the speeds he was experiencing were the fastest he could ever hope for because his connection was fibre to the node, and so relied on old copper wiring from his home to the local “node” distribution point.

    “Telstra has said with fibre to the node, and the distance of my home to the exchange, this is the fastest I am ever going to get.”

    Another client, Vicki Oven of North Wyong, also on Telstra’s top NBN package, receives download speeds as low as 2.85Mbs and upload speeds of 3.23Mbs.

    “It drops out all the time and it drives you nuts. Other times, there’s not even enough speed to download a movie,” Ms Oven said.

    This is my experience too and when the internet drops out it takes your landline with it and people who ring get a message saying this number has been disconnected. This happens both at my work and at home.

  19. Terry2

    Most of the people in my regional area are on satellite and prior to Skymuster they were on Ipstar. Because the Skymuster service is so erratic and speeds not as good as Ipstar, several of them are looking at going back to ipstar (who are touting for business).

    What is driving people around the bend is that when they contact their ISP they are told the problem is with NBN and when they call NBN they are told to contact their ISP as ‘ NBN is a wholesaler and does not deal with the public’.

    Thanks a lot Malcolm !

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