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Will the rorts never end?

In December 2013, Joe Hockey declared on the 7:30 report, “There’s no free lunches from government. The days of just handing out cash and helicoptering money out is just not possible.”

Ignoring his ironically prescient use of the word ‘helipcoptering’, it seems the cash handouts are still flowing to some.

On the 20th of February 2014, just before the budget from hell, the Department of Finance gave $234,371.50 to The Menzies Research Centre Limited for “Nominated purposes and general expenses of the Centre.”

On February 14th, 2015 the Department of Finance gave them another grant of $239,764.80 for

  • Conducting roundtables and seminars on social and political policy issues;
  • Development of website to disseminate information and production of articles and publications;
  • Conducting research and other projects approved by the Board within the objects set out in the Constitution of the Centre; and
  • Covering the general expenses incurred in conducting the activities noted

The receipts of the Centre in 2014-15 were $538,690 coming from corporate and private sponsors as well as government grants, including $66,000 from Google Australia Pty Ltd.

On 11th of February 2016 the Department of Finance made a further grant of $245,279.10. The purpose of the grant was exactly the same as the previous year.

The Menzies Research Centre Ltd is an Australian public policy think tank. It was founded in 1994 on the Centenary of Robert Menzies birth. In disclosure returns lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission, it disclosed that it is an associated entity of the Liberal Party naming Peta Credlin’s husband Brian Loughnane as financial controller.

The Centre makes donations to the Liberal Party. Without doing an extensive search, it donated $230,639 to the party in 2001-02 and $39,603 in 2013-14 as two examples.

When Malcolm Turnbull was federal Liberal Party treasurer, he donated $150,000 to the Centre, where he was the chairman at the time.

Andrew Robb is one of the current Directors and a former Chairman. John Howard is a former Director as is Julian Leeser, who just replaced Philip Ruddock as member for Berowra.

Nick Cater works for them and endlessly churns out their agenda in the pages of The Australian. One of their latest missions is a campaign to include Howard’s documentary on Menzies in every school curriculum.

“The MRC has acquired the educational rights to Howard on Menzies allowing us to distribute the program to schools.”

When so many charities and community groups have had their funding cut by this government, and as people on welfare face even further cuts, it is astonishing to think that the government is funding their own party think tank every year who then kindly donates the taxpayer funds back to the Liberal Party. How many Parakeelia type set-ups do these guys actually have to milk public funds into party coffers?

NB It should be noted that the same amount has been given to the Chifley Research Centre Ltd, the Labor equivalent. We give a lot more to the parties than we realise.


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  1. Jack Russell

    How many?

    Between 250-500 Australia-wide wouldn’t be too outrageous a guess I reckon … these entitled people have voracious appetites for public money and have spent decades perfecting and building the ‘legal’ siphon behind closed doors.

  2. flohri1754

    I had no idea that either the Menzies or Chifley centres were at least partially funded by the Federal government! Thanks for the information …

    One would think that if a political party could not come up with enough money for its own primary think tank, perhaps that such think tank/s shouldn’t exist …..

  3. diannaart

    I always wondered whether there are congenital problems with members of the LNP. Now I know they are, indeed, an incestuous cult of cronies.

  4. johnlward010

    There is now clear evidence of fraud, misleading and deceptive conduct by members of Cabinet.
    This crookedness needs to be exposed.

    The sectional interests of our Government Ministers’ Corporate donors are taking precedence over the national interest, and the sustainability of financing for the Renewable Energy Industry.

    In 2015,Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to exclude investments in household and small-scale solar from the $10 billion fund in the future.
    The draft investment mandate called for “mature and established clean energy technologies … including wind technology and household small-scale solar” to be excluded from the Corporation’s activities.

    Interestingly, the authority to make such changes can only come from the Parliament, not the Executive.

    The Executive cannot change an Act of Parliament. The Parliament also authorises the Executive Government to spend public money (not the other way around).

    Any change such as the revocation of a part and/or a new investment mandate to the CEFC Act 2012 may only be modified by amendments made, requested or agreed to by the Senate. Stephen Keim QC has provided advice to environmental groups about the Government’s ability to direct the CEFC.
    He said the Government had the power to put in place an investment mandate but it had to “tread a fairly thin line”.

    During 1998, American Petroleum Institute (API), the USA’s largest oil trade association (member companies include BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Exxon-Mobil and Shell) planned a “roadmap” for a climate of deception, including a plan to have “average citizens” believe that the realities of climate science were vague and uncertain.

    Australians have been subject to fraudulent and misleading representations, regarding climate change over the past ten years by the people we elected.

    The direct effect of the CEFC ‘Responsible Ministers’ acting as de facto or shadow directors of the CEFC has been to create the perception that Australian policy support for clean energy is uncertain or diminished.

    These are the same negative outcomes envisaged by the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) 1998 campaign

    A third entity involved in this deception is the lobby group, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). The IPA was part of a conglomerate of like-minded groups that formed the Liberal Party in 1943-44 after the break-up of the United Australia Party.

    The policy agenda of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has been linked directly to LNP policy ever since.

    To put these linkages in context:
    The law frowns on the abuse of authority by any elected official i.e. to act with the intention to dishonestly gain a benefit for another person and/or cause detriment to another.
    This behaviour is defined in law as ‘Misfeasance’ In most cases, the essentials to bring an action of misfeasance in public office are; that the office-holder acted illegally, knew he/she was doing so, and knew or should reasonably have known that third parties would suffer loss as a result.

    The last Parliament (2013-2016) twice declined to allow the Executive’s Bill to Abolish the CEFC to become law.

    Subsequently, the Executive arm of Government had tried for two years to change the CEFC
    investment mandate

    Recently, while in caretaker mode, the LNP created a different investment mandate directive (in order to appear to the electors to have authority) to modify the intent of the CEFC Act, without returning to the Parliament (which BTW no longer existed).

    So apparently they were preparing to seek such an alteration to the CEFC Act in (the next) the 45th Parliament

    During the election campaign Prime Minister Turnbull by implication pass himself of as having the authority to redistribute $1billion from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to fund his new Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF).

    $1 billion was also set aside to finance a ‘Better Cities Fund’ announced two thirds of the way through the campaign.

    A further $1 billion ‘drawn from the “Green Bank ” to clean up the Barrier Reef ($0.6 Billion) is for jobs to deliver higher water quality in farm runoff in what looks like a subsidy to sugar/ethanol industry.

    $100 million was set aside to prevent the closure of the Steelworks in Whyalla SA.

    The University of Tasmania’s Northern Campus in Launceston received a pledge of $150 million to be extracted from the CEFC.

    These monies from CEFC are meant to wedge the ALP.
    Prime Minister Turnbull is saying to Tasmanians “you can have an expanded Northern Campus or a renewable energy industry, but you cannot have not both”.

    Malcolm promised money he cannot access, with the total pledged to date of $5.6 billion.

    Cabinet Ministers have conspired to remove all funds from the CEFC by pledging the total amount left in the CEFC account to other ‘good LNP causes’, in the final analysis there is no Funding available to catalyse the Renewable energy industry and investors will look elsewhere for the stability they prefer.

    At the same time Malcolm Turnbull is subsidising the fossil fuel industry with $24 billions of taxpayer funds That is the equivalent of $ 1,000 for every man, woman and child living in Australia.

    This includes exploration funding for Geoscience Australia and tax deductions for mining and petroleum exploration.
    That is why fossil fuel electricity is so cheap compared to renewables.

    Prime Minister Turnbull, Deputy Prime Minister Joyce, Former Prime Minister Abbott, Ministers Pyne, Hockey, Cormann and Hunt are attempting to persuade the public that the Cabinet can “re-purpose and re-direct the Act” without going back through the Parliament.

    These changes to the CEFC Act 2012 are yet to be legislated.

    Let’s consider the limits the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 imposes on the responsible Minister’s mandate.

    Section 65: The responsible Ministers must not give a direction under subsection 64(1):

    (a) that has the purpose, or has or is likely to have the effect, of directly or indirectly requiring the Board to, or not to, make a particular investment; or

    (b) that is inconsistent with this Act (including the object of this Act).

    The object of The Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act (2012) is to facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector

    Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann attempted to skirt around the law.
    Minister Hunt and Minister Cormann assert they have not directed the Board of the CEFC to stop financing roof top solar or land based wind farms. Greg hunt says his authority is inferred In the CEFC Act itself

    Minister Hunt and Minister Cormann assert they have not directed the Board of the CEFC to stop financing roof top solar or land based wind farms. Greg hunt says his authority is inferred In the CEFC Act itself. So let’s test that in court.

    The LNP and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) are still using the same script and still following the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) line of climate deception.

    In a move away from API policy, in September 2014, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden in an interview with the Washington Post said:
    “Let me be very, very clear. For us, climate change is real and it’s a threat that we want to act on. We’re not aligning with sceptics” (Mufson 2014), Mufson is a director of Shell USA

    Fraudulent representation means making of a false statement about a material fact, with the knowledge that such statement is false, to another person with an intention that such other person to whom that statement is made must believe it as true and must act upon it resulting in an injury to the person to whom such false representation is made.


    There are strong connections between the API and the IPA’s disinformation and the LNP campaign aims.

    The links are there. The wrongs have been done. Let us join together to promote public debate on this matter.






    AUDIO: CEFC seeks legal advice over Government mandates on wind and solar (Breakfast)

    http://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/fight-misinformation/climate-deception-dossiers-fossil-fuel-industry-memos – .V9fkLmURqEI








    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jun/20/how the coalition-is-using-clean-energy-financing-as-an-election-slush-fund-australia














    John Ward

  5. olddavey

    It’s time that sponger Cater returned to England and took his nasty piece of work of a wife with him.
    The turd is always complaining about government payments to anyone he doesn’t like while his snout is firmly buried in the taxpayer funded trough.

  6. flohri1754

    John L. Ward …. an amazing string of manipulations …..

  7. Kaye Lee


    The whole conservative side is terribly incestuous and I agree about Rebecca Weisser. They are as bad as the Hendersons.

    I really object to this funding. They also gave $92,088.70 to both the National Party equivalent, The Page Research Centre Limited, and something called the Green Institute which doesn’t seem to be up and running yet. With the four major parties dipping into this honey pot there is no chance of it being stopped.

  8. diannaart

    “an amazing string of manipulations”

    I suspect John L Ward has only found a few threads in a tangle of lies and deception.

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Anything that either Andrew Robb or Brian Loughnane are involved in, should be seriously scrutinised and checked for its accountability. That means the Menzies Research Centre Ltd.

    Any shortcomings should then result in immediate cancellation of their “Charity” status which is presumably the reason why they can seek and be granted such funding.

  10. Douglas Pye

    With respect may I submit this comment :- ” All of the above, and more, is the Australian version of simple Neo con Standard Procedure World Wide.(which I well know is no earth shattering revelation). ….. ‘They’ are NOT ‘missing the point’ ! …. ‘They’ are sharply focused on ‘Their’ point ….. which simply holds the Australian public in utter CONTEMPT for allowing them to ‘Rule’ !! …. make no mistake about it !!

    Apart from (and as well as) the above ….. $$ Money $$ rules Governments World Wide ….. without compunction ! …. pitilessly ! ….. In this current era we have a Millionaire as our Prime Minister ….( I think I just heard Mr. Chifley roll right over in his grave.)

    Understand me – if Mr. Turnbull and any of his ilk can assemble wealth that’s entirely their affair, ( given it’s fairly obtained) ….. which leads the mind to view the parlous situation where the word ” LEGAL” is utterly Bastardised ! … think Tax Havens for starters !

    I believe the time is nigh for the (my) ALP to shape itself into Fair Go mode and seek a ” Franchise ” to deflate / remove $$ Money $$ from the Governing system ….. does the system really serve the public when it simply funds LIES … the term ‘Spin’ is a lie in itself! …

    The government is no better than Big Business which spends huge money to ‘Reward’ top management and actually buy their conscience ! ….. conscience ?!! ….. more power to the ‘Whistle Blower’ entity!

    I love my sunburned Country …. and it’s flooding rains ….. may my Country again witness Common Decency prevailing! …..

  11. Max Gross

    This brazen LNP klepotocracy really does believe it is untouchable. And yes, they do keep getting away with it, but god help anyone who blows a whistle! The AFP will be set loose like junkyard dogs.

  12. helvityni

    oddavey, I’m with you, please send that little sourpuss Cater back to where he came from…

    Douglas Pye, I too wish for a return of the Oz before Howard, Abbott, Turnbull….

    The Southern Highland winds and rains were music to my ears before our dumb government started to blame the renewables for any freak storm most likely caused by the CC…which they seem to think is old wives’ tales…

  13. Wayne Turner

    Stop the waste.

  14. wammm

    Spot on JMS if any ex-pollie needs a royal commission it is why robb erred at almost every level.of signing.
    But those rorts are but a fraction of the VET/TAFE and private education rorts since sept 2013..
    172 with access to government cash and only 43 unis(mid2014 – norton, grattan institute) wow with the history of 100s of of sucessfull pink batts getting no recognition but 4 rorters getting a royal commission. It is odds on this slack government has no interest in having any control over the habits of 172 CEOs in attracting students or the delivery of courses or, until complaints, any course outcomes.
    My darling was often at odds with pollies who had been lobbied by providers denied access until compliance but her boss backed her till he retired.
    She was eventually transferred and the ‘dodgy’ institutions got provisional access to overseas students and quietly, disappeared from view.

  15. Kaye Lee

    Speaking of rorts….

    Tony Abbott has updated his register of interests to declare a new role on the advisory board of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, established by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, a philanthropic organisation funded by the founder of Ramsay Health Care, a private hospital operator.

    Since 2004 Ramsay Holdings (the major shareholder in Ramsay Health Care), and Ramsay Health Care itself, have collectively donated more than $2 million to the Liberal and National parties. Ramsay Health Care has also donated $450,000 to the controversial Free Enterprise Foundation.

    They also get a lot of government contracts.

  16. townsvilleblog

    Kaye, thanks for shining a light on these activities I for one appreciate your hard work. You should be representing us in the federal parliament. As for Ramsay, I’d be interested to know how much income tax they have paid in the past 5 years, I’ll bet it’s not much. The way we are heading these tory bastards will have privatized every facet of government in Australia if they are allowed to cling to power for the full 3 years.

    In the area of Health we could be answering to Ramsay in future.

  17. Arthur Tarry

    Will any of the issues mentioned in this article appear in the MSM – I suspect not. The AIMN is playing an increasingly important role in exposing the covert world of our political system. Hooray for AIMN. Bring on an Independent Commission for Corruption and Abuse of Power in Canberra.

  18. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, Arthur. Those were kind words that all the writers here would appreciate. I guess if we had a decent media in Australia then half of the political blogs wouldn’t exist. We’d all be writing about sport, TV shows or grandma’s famous recipes.

    Admittedly, most of what we write about it sourced from material in the public domain, but a lot of it never finds its way into the mainstream media. Or if it does, it is information that is rarely analysed.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Michael is right about this information being in the public domain. This article started from Wikipedia and the sources it linked to.


    But apparently no-one thinks it’s a big enough deal to report on. I am pretty sure we could use our taxpayer dollars more productively. The four party think tanks were given a total of $674,735.60 this year in what appears to be an annual payment. How come we have to pay them to have ideas? We already pay the politicians and their staff and the public service departments and each party gets a big payout after the election dependent on votes received. I research stuff for free. Why can’t they? How many refuges would that money keep open? Or treatment centres for addicts? How many nurses could it employ?

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Exactly, Kaye Lee.

    Ironical how everything they do, has a price tag but everything grassroots people are involved in, is exposed to repressive funding restrictions.

  21. Kaye Lee


    For the public it is user pays, for politicians it is the public who pay…for everything.

  22. John

    John Ward’s comment is worth a post under its own byline.

  23. Rhonda

    I think they should be tanked. What a screaming rort

  24. Laura Johnson

    the think tank gets paid by the government and then makes a donation to the government (scratches head)…. sounds like a money laundering scheme

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