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What angers me most is the bloody secrecy and the belief that you can get away with it

Two weeks ago Labor withdrew the $18 million funding for the governor-general’s favoured charity. What angers me most is the secrecy behind this most unusual generosity awarded to the governor general by for prime minister, Scott Morrison. So, what now for a governor-general, battered and bruised by Morrison’s secrets?

The future of the Governor General remains under a cloud now that Labor has decided to take back the $18 million David Hurley was allocated to train new conservative leaders via his favoured charity (Australian Future Leaders Foundation Limited).

But why was the Governor General lobbying the Prime Minister for such an enormous amount of money, and why did the Government include it in their last budget?

We deserve to know the answers to these questions. Suppose the Albanese Government cannot get to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding David Hurley’s request. In that case, as soon as the legislation for a National Integrity Commission has passed, both Houses, perhaps we might ask the Governor General and the former PM to explain.

So far, we know the Australian Future Leaders Foundation Limited was registered in April 2021 to run leadership programs.

It has been spearheaded by Chris Hartley, who it has been alleged suggested that the Governor General used a PowerPoint presentation for his exposition to Scott Morrison. He also had connections with the monarchy.

The Foundation has no employees and no structure. The current Government has withdrawn the funds but is yet to explain why. When asked to explain the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers said, “There have been some funds committed which will not be proceeding, and that’s an example of that.”

When asked if an inquiry would be appropriate, he said he did not see this in personal terms… I’m not into the personalities of it, I’m into the economics of it.”

The Prime Minister couldn’t offer anything better saying, “Watch the budget… We’re going through line by line, looking for areas of savings in the budget. All of the former Government’s expenditure is under review.”

Both of these answers only serve to raise yet another question: Why is the Government being so secretive about it? Do they intend to add the gift of $18 million to a foundation that existed in name only to a very long list to be presented to a new integrity commission?

Given the Government’s secrecy, we don’t know the answer to that question.

As soon as the legislation for a National Integrity Commission has passed both Houses, perhaps we might ask the Governor General and the former Prime Minister to explain.

The Government may legislate a National Anti-Corruption Commission before Christmas, but when will it be operational? Our right to know can only be demonstrated by those bodies commissioned to seek evidence. When will that be?

This case is but one of many, and the Government of the day must be able to establish alleged wrongdoing.

If Albanese is fair dinkum about restoring trust in politicians, he must first demonstrate that corruption exists. In doing so, he must put aside accusations of small-mindedness. That the task is too great because the allegations stretch back in time. And further reasons to back away from scrutinising corruption.

Who knows? What was the Governor General’s role in acquiring this funding for The Australian Future Leaders Foundation (AFLF)? It might have been well-intentioned, but they went about it the wrong way; given how Morrison operated and the lies he told, it is easy to suspect something is amiss, which is why Chalmers backed away.

What was the foundation about? Online news blog Crickey suggested, we can reasonably safely assume that it was about:

“… creating a network for young Australian achievers – but it reeked of the monarchy. There is ample evidence that the Foundation, proposed by people with links to the royal family and promoted by the queen’s representative in Australia, received special treatment from Scott Morrison, whose Government was prepared to back it with $18 million and special tax status.”

It all fits into Morrison’s persistent abuse of his powers that makes it easy to see a foundation set up with Government funds training the best and brightest in right-wing conservatism – or taking it a step further far-right conservatism. Not far-fetched when one considers Morrison’s history in trashing the rules and his friendly relationship with Hurley.

As I said earlier, these things and others have to be tested, but we must also evaluate the damage done to the office of the Prime Minister and the standing of the Governor General and his office.

According to David Hardaker from Crickey:

“The record shows there were a dozen meetings between the G-G’s office and the Foundation’s executive director, upper-crust Englishman Chris Hartley. That then translated into access to the Prime Minister’s Office as the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet took the running on backing Hartley’s regal idea with taxpayer money.”

It was a nifty idea for these upper-crust English chappies to use Australian taxpayer funds to finance a foundation to teach social elites how to lead us and that the Governor General was within a hairs width of signing into law.

Again quoting David Hardaker:

“Had he done so and none had noticed the deception, it would have explicitly passed for the benefit of the AFLF. One was to enable the payment of $18 million (with a guarantee of more), and the other was for the coveted Deductible Gift Recipient tax status.

Does this not, in theory, compromise the independence of the G-G’s office?”

Of course, it does. It may all be innocent and legal but tied to everything else; if nothing else, it is a bad look.

The foundation affair will be recorded in the history of Australian politics as an attempt by the political right to grab money from the Australian taxpayer and fund a scheme to train young conservative people in the art of leadership or propaganda. Take your pick. I will leave it to the reader to decide the purpose.

So far, it has been recorded as just another chapter in the former Government’s assaults on the integrity of our institutions.

In all the talk of becoming a republic, the people responsible for establishing it should also be mindful of the damage already done to our conventions.

In this episode with the Governor General, the Coalition has precipitously exploited the Order of Australia awards to stack the body and reward its political friends with honours, rubber-stamped by the Governor General.

Typically, Scott Morrison, on occasions, didn’t even talk to the Governor General about the awards, not even bothering to front up in person; he became so insatiable for power.

His actions were found perfectly legal, said Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue, even though they breached “the principle of responsible government.”

There are calls for the Governor General to step down or to explain himself more fully.

At the very least the net result is that the office of the governor-general has been left tarnished from its dealings with Morrison.” It is an open question if the incumbent Government cannot repair it; it should at least confront it.

Both Hurley and Morrison have some serious questions to answer, and the Integrity Commission have some serious questions to ask.

My thought for the day

In the recipe of exemplary leadership there are many ingredients. Popularity is but one. It however ranks far below getting things done for the common good.


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  1. GL

    Call it what it was: A tax payer funded bribe by Scummo as part of his attempted slow takeover of the gubmint.

  2. Terence Mills

    It is now being revealed, twelve months after the AUKUS agreement was announced by Morrison and Dutton and the French contract cancelled, that all that actually existed was an acronym.

    There were no plans or designs, no costings, no delivery dates and no agreement on where the submarines were to be built or by whom – only an acronym dreamed up by Morrison’s PR team – we were sold the acronym AUKUS !

    The Albanese government finally agreed to pay $835 million to French submarine contractor Naval Group over the cancelled contract.

    It points to a serious defect in our party system that a man like Morrison can bluster his way to leadership of the Liberal Party and then assume the prime ministership of this country.

  3. Warren

    John, true. Now, how many other grants have been dished out are in the same vein? Public money given to advantage individuals or groups in return for hidden favours needs scrutiny. It might pay for ICAC to look at all grants given in the last term of the LNP. Call it the ‘Great Clawback’.
    Terence, Morrison is a stellar example of the downside of the cult of personality based on the illusion of confidence, aka bluster.
    Both the LNP and Labor play the same game. They are a lost causes doing great damage in the absence of any real oversight.

  4. Geoff Andrews

    But what a good idea! A special school for potential leaders of one’s favourite philosophy!
    I would like to see a school for future union leaders.
    Albino, why don’t you take back $9 million from our “neutral” GG and start such an institution with it? The country would benefit from more intelligent leaders of the right and unions more able to give the workers more say in the economy.

  5. Kathryn

    Morrison’s deceitfulness, smug arrogance and lack of transparency border on fascism! The fact that yet another undemocratic, underhanded governor general (David Hurley) decided to collude with a notorious, ultra-conservative, power-obsessed autocrat in the LNP should provide egalitarian Australians with yet ANOTHER reason to want our nation to become a DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC as a matter or urgency! David Hurley, like the appalling, disgraced and totally discredited serial drunk, John Kerr, maintained a shocking bias towards the disreputable, born-to-rule LNP and was prepared to break every rule of democracy in order to conspire with the political psychopaths in the LNP to attain, maintain or extend their autocratic power! The appalling, illegal and fascist dismissal of a democratically-elected PM, Gough Whitlam, who was – without any doubt – the best, highest achieving PM in our history – should have been reason enough to become a Republic back in 1975. THAT fascist act is STILL viewed with a sense of justifiable rage and is STILL managing to divide our nation!

    ENOUGH! Not only does the supercilious role of governor general – and his/her enormous entourage – an UNELECTED parasitic role that costs Australian taxpayers millions of dollars every year (whilst the Queen’s representative in our nation, like the royal family themselves, live in grotesque luxury at OUR expense), the position provides tyrannical dictators in the LNP with a complicit accomplice they can use in order to usurp power using any underhanded, secretive measure they can muster!

    Yes, Queen Elizabeth II was a good, hard-working monarch – FOR ENGLAND AND THE UK – but she did precious little to serve Australia! The Queen lived a long life serving England and the UK and, at 96 years of age, her death is not altogether surprising or unexpected, however, it is now OVERTIME for us to cut the apron strings from England which is, after all, a nation where insufferable snobbery not only thrives, it is an inherent component of their elitist culture. As such, it is now OVERTIME for our egalitarian nation of Australia to finally grow up, stand on our own feet and become a Democratic Republic for once and for all! England has always been a nation that is steeped in regressive elitist traditions, stifling classism and sanctimonious hypocrisy where people considered a “lower caste” find it difficult to move beyond their perceived “station” in life. It is for THESE reasons that the rather abhorrent “institution” of the “Royal Family” prospers and thrives whereby, for no other reason that being born into the “right” family, whole generations of the self-promoting elitists in the Windsor family (and their pretentious hangers-on) can live in the type of obscene luxury that most hard-working taxpayers (who go on and on supporting them) will NEVER see! It is for THESE reasons that so many people from the UK are desperate to emigrate to fair-minded, egalitarian Australia! However, history has proven that the ONLY time Australia is NOT egalitarian is when we are mismanaged by the condescending elitists and power-obsessed political psychopaths in the LNP!

    The fact is that there are even millions of taxpayers WITHIN the UK who have had enough of the royal family and also want to become a Republic! Sadly, the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the prolonged never-ending mourning process – which is going on and on ad nauseum to the point of becoming nauseatingly maudlin – has probably put back the Republican debate another decade! This is extremely unfortunate because the fact is that England – as a nation – has always maintained a long-held contempt for Australia and Australians (and other colonial nations). The stranglehold the current system has over our country impedes our growth, as a nation! For as long as we allow this system to continue, Australia can NEVER really evolve until we take the BIG step into becoming a Democratic Republic where we maintain autonomy over our OWN destiny and do not have to rely on the pretentious whims of an UNELECTED representative (the governor general) of a foreign power! It is important to point out that Australia can STILL be a member of the Commonwealth even if we become a Democratic Republic – the best part about this “dual” role is that we, at last, get RID of the tenacious, elitist and undemocratic role of the governor general! Wake up, Australia and MOVE ON!

  6. New England Cocky

    I share your concerns regarding the Australian Future Leadership Foundation Ltd (AFLF) ”charity” and the procedure for getting it established without proper scrutiny by the appropriate public service instruments.

    Here are two essential references for information from The Saturday Paper:

    1) Inside Morrison’s secretive $18m leadership grant, The Saturday Paper 03 September 2022, Karen Middleton, p1,8.
    2) Grant standing, The Saturday Paper 10 September 2022, Karen Middleton, p3.
    Accepting your description of the paucity of this ”charity” in terms of tangible assets, the more important aspect is the financial funding arrangements.

    Consider the possibilities:
    a) The Royal Australian Dictatorship overlorded by ”the One Chosen by the Eagle” with a Praetorian Guard trained by AFLF – not impossible given events in America under Trumpery;

    But with avarice the preferred operating mode, why not just take the money and run?

    b) the ”constitution” of AFLF ”charity’ is reported as allowing Foundation Directors to appoint other Directors in the future, so which publicly well known Australian candidates come to mind? A former Australian Prim Monster and a former gg? Obviously by their interest and former public rank they are likely to be considered suitable candidates that could be unanimously elected by the established Board of Directors.

    Here the plot thickens.

    Albanese is reported as identifying ”recurrent funding in perpetuity” for AFLF so Scummo Hurley & Co were prepared to take the about $4 MILLION PER YEAR FROM AUSTRALIAN TAXPAYER FUNDS – a nice little earner for a ”charity” having no physical assets. How to keep a former Prim Monster & former gg in the manner to which they wish to remain accustomed?

    But wait … there is more ….. The AFLF ”charity” Board could pass a unanimous resolution to crash the AFLF and distribute the financial assets between the Directors. Once again which former pubic figures would benefit financially?

    As the Albanese LABOR government grinds on with all the speed of a sleeping snail, we live in hope that this matter is fully aired in public to expose who did what when …. because the smell of a rotting fish remains, and we all know that fish rot from the head.

    The Queen is dead. Long live the Australia Republic with an Australian borne Head of State.

  7. Ross

    Governments prefer ex military people as GG’s because military people are used to obeying the orders of their superiors. In the case of Governor’s General it’s the Prime Minister giving the orders and the rubber stamp is produced forthwith. The monarch doesn’t enter into it.
    Not much of a system for good governance.
    The PM could have his own rubber stamp and save us all a lot of money.

    (Please note tongue firmly planted in cheek)

  8. David Evans

    Is it true that Australian tax payers paid for the catering, staff etc for Hurleys sons’ wedding that was held in government house?

  9. Henry Rodrigues

    Its time !!!! Well may we chant, ad nauseum, God save the King, but this Governor General has got to go. He is tainted, he has proven to be a willing if somewhat naive pawn of that bastard Scummo.

    Why not leaders with integrity, compassion and vision ? We’ve seen and experienced enough of the conservative bastardry since Howard

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