There is a disturbing trend emerging of government ministers seemingly having no idea what their staff are doing.
Bridget McKenzie apparently doesn’t know which staffer in her office made changes to the sports grants after she had signed off on them. But she is certain it had nothing to do with the 136 emails with Morrison’s office.
Angus Taylor doesn’t know where he got a forged document from that he used to attack Clover Moore.
Michaelia Cash categorically denied that anyone in her office had contacted the media about the upcoming raid in her botched witch hunt after Bill Shorten. Until someone whispered in her ear during a break.
When Marise Payne admitted that she, along with other Cabinet ministers, had received a pirated e-copy of Malcolm Turnbull’s new book before publication, she insisted it had “absolutely not” come from the Prime Minister’s Office. Except it did come from an address from within the PMO and a staffer subsequently “apologised”.
Paul Fletcher told us that the decision to purchase the Leppington triangle land for 10 times its value was approved by a deputy secretary and that he knew nothing about it.
When proof of Peter Dutton personally interceding to grant visas to au pairs for his mates’was leaked, AFP Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan admitted that he alerted Mr Dutton’s chief of staff Craig Maclachlan to a raid on the whistleblower’s office and home ahead of time. Gaughan texted “that warrant activity will now be first thing tomorrow morning”. Maclachlan replied “thanks mate – this arvo also fine”, to which Mr Gaughan responded with a “thumbs up” emoji. Despite the text messages, Dutton said he “knew nothing” of the pending raid.
When Barnaby Joyce misled parliament about access to the Farm Household Allowance, his words were later mysteriously changed in Hansard. Joyce blamed a rogue staffer.
Endless examples of politicians rorting expense claims and failing to declare assets are put down to “administrative error”.
Perhaps if politicians paid a little more attention to their job and less to their photo shoots and “announcables” they might have a better handle on what is happening in their offices and departments.
But that might mean they had to take some responsibility when it’s so much easier to blame someone else and, if necessary, find them a new lucrative position elsewhere.
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