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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Trust, transparency and accountability or gimme gimme gimme? - The AIM Network

Trust, transparency and accountability or gimme gimme gimme? - The AIM Network

Trust, transparency and accountability or gimme gimme gimme?

Buoyed by their success at the 2013 election, the Abbott
government has wasted no time in using their power to feather their own
nest and to promote, reward and employ their backers.  Whilst all
governments do this to a degree, Abbott has taken it to a whole new
level of blatant nepotism and servitude to his masters at the expense of
the public interest.

On the 9th of September 2013, before the count was even
finalised, Julie Bishop flexed her muscles by her petty and vindictive
decision to revoke the appointment of Steve Bracks as consul-general in
New York.  He had been appointed in May, long before the caretaker
period, and was due to start that week.

It’s not as if Ms Bishop had a better person in mind. The position remained vacant for six months until it was gifted to Nick Minchin, the man who gave Tony Abbott leadership of the Liberal Party in return for his conversion to climate change denial.

And she didn’t stop there. Despite having 18 months of his term left,
Mike Rann was booted from the position of High Commissioner to the UK
to make way for Alexander Downer
This is the man who, under the guise of providing foreign aid,
authorised the bugging of the cabinet offices of the East Timor
parliament to further the commercial interest of Woodside Petroleum who
coincidentally employed him after he left politics.

Rather than investigate this matter, which is before the International Court of Justice, George Brandis authorised raids to steal the evidence and cancelled the passport of the prime witness.

Brandis also hit the ground running to look after his mates. So
appalled was he by the conviction of Andrew Bolt, he immediately set
about changing the laws to protect the rights of bigots.  To champion
the cause, he made the inexplicable decision to sack the Human Rights
Commissioner for the Disabled, Graeme Innes,
and appoint the IPA’s Tim Wilson (without advertising, application,
interview, relevant qualifications or experience), to fight for the
repeal of Section 18c of the racial discrimination laws,

After a huge backlash from the public, Brandis was directed to drop
his crusade, and there sits Tim Wilson, drawing a salary of $400,000
including perks, with nothing to do.

Mr Wilson’s appointment followed Senator Brandis’ announcement that he had chosen former Howard government minister David Kemp
– the son of IPA founder Charles Kemp – to chair the advisory council
of Old Parliament House.  This position had been given to Barrie Cassidy
but Brandis forced him to resign.  Along with Kemp, two others were
appointed: Heather Henderson, the only daughter of Liberal Party founder
Sir Robert Menzies; and Sir David Smith, whose place in history was
assured on November 11, 1975, on the steps of Old Parliament House, when
as official secretary to governor-general Sir John Kerr he was required
to read out the proclamation sacking the Whitlam government.

Brandis, as Minister for the Arts, also appointed Gerard Henderson
as chairman of the judging panel for the nonfiction and history
category of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Australia’s richest
book prize.

Tony Abbott only took a few hours to begin his Night of the Long
Knives. The swearing-in ceremony had barely finished when the Prime
Minister’s office issued a press release, announcing three departmental
secretaries had had their contracts terminated and the Treasury Secretary would stand down next year.

The head of Infrastructure Australia
also quit or was sacked for his criticism of the government’s
interference with the independence of his organisation.  The head of the
NBN, along with the entire board, were also replaced.

All funding for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples was withdrawn.  Countless charities and advisory groups have been defunded.

Climate change and renewable energy bodies have been under constant
attack with many disbanded and the rest hanging on temporarily by the
grace of the Senate.

To replace all these experienced experts, we have seen an astonishing
array of people appointed to high-paying positions as advisers,
reviewers, commissioners, consultants, board members, envoys –

Maurice Newman, head of Tony Abbott’s 12-member Business Advisory
Council, aged 76, a former head of the stock exchange and the ABC and a
founder of another of the right-wing think tanks, the Centre for
Independent Studies. Climate sceptic.

Dick Warburton, 72, the former chairman of the petrochemical company
Caltex, among other corporate affiliations. Appointed  to review
Australia’s 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target (RET).  Climate
sceptic.  Also appointed was Brian Fisher.  Climate modelling done by
his firm has been presented to the review panel by the oil and gas
sector, as part of its campaign against the RET.

Tony Shepherd, former head of the Business Council of Australia
(BCA), aged 69. Appointed to head the Commission of Audit.  Climate
sceptic.  Former Liberal senator Amanda Vanstone and Liberal staffer and
Chicago-school economist Peter Boxall were on the commission’s panel.
Peter Crone, director of policy at the BCA, was head of the secretariat.

David Murray, 65, the former CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, appointed
head of the government’s Financial System Inquiry. Climate sceptic.

Henry Ergas, 62, regulatory economist and columnist for the
Australian. Appointed to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s
“expert panel” to assess the costs and benefits of Turnbull’s “copper
magic” NBN-lite.  Climate sceptic who recently made a video with
Christopher Monckton.

Kevin Donnelly, the IPA-aligned former chief-of-staff to Kevin
Andrews and champion of corporal punishment. Appointed to review the
National Curriculum.  He then appointed Barry Spurr, author of racist
sexist ranting emails, to advise on the literature curriculum.

Warren Mundine, son-in-law of Gerard Henderson. Appointed to advise
on Indigenous affairs.  Has set up a nice new office, 10km away from his

Jim Molan, retired general and author of the tow-back policy.
Appointed as Special Envoy to fix the asylum seeker problem and to
advise on the defence white paper, a position he quit after three weeks
citing differences with the Defence Minister.

Janet Albrechtsen, columnist for the Australian, and Neil Brown,
former deputy Liberal Party leader. Appointed to the panel overseeing
appointments to the boards of the ABC and SBS.

It seems the pool of “experts” nowadays is confined to the IPA, the
Australian, the Business Council, and the Howard government, and climate
change scepticism is an essential criterion.

Aside from jobs for the boys (and a couple of girls who think
feminism is a dirty word), we have also seen the blatant promotion of
the coal industry with fast-tracking of approvals. We have seen the
repeal of gambling reform laws.  We have seen the delay and watering
down of food and alcohol labelling laws.  We are seeing an attack on the
minimum wage and penalty rates.  All of these measures are against the
best interests of the people and purely designed to reward business

Our Prime Minister personally introduces James Packer to
international government and business leaders around the world to
promote his quest to build more casinos. This is despite the fact that
his company, Crown, has been implicated in bribery to a Chinese

In a recent report, the OECD was scathing of Australia’s record,
pointing out that Australia “has only one case that has led to foreign
bribery prosecutions, out of 28 foreign bribery referrals received by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) … this is of serious concern”.

One of the 28 cases referred to the AFP related to two properties in Chinese Macau part owned by James Packer’s company, Crown.

A former Macau official is currently serving a 289-year sentence for
accepting bribes of up to $100 million, with various suspect projects
named, including the casinos.

The OECD report notes Australian police did not launch a domestic investigation into any possibility of Crown’s involvement.

In another scandal, former Leighton Holdings construction boss Wal
King has denied all knowledge of a $42 million bribe Leighton is accused
of having paid in Iraq. Leighton Holdings continue to be awarded
lucrative government contracts.

Another of the 28 cases referred to by the OECD relates to payments
made by BHP Billiton in China. They note that, unlike Australia, the US
has launched two investigations into BHP Billiton

The OECD’s lead examiners expressed concern that the “AFP may have
closed foreign bribery cases before thoroughly investigating the

The only foreign bribery investigation that has resulted in
prosecutions in Australia is the highly publicised case involving the
Reserve Bank subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia over which, interestingly, Dick Warburton has been investigated as a former director of Note Printing Australia.

One must wonder about a police force that can spend hundreds of
thousands investigating and prosecuting Peter Slipper over $900 worth of
cab charges, that can mobilise over 800 police to conduct raids leading
to the arrest of one teenager who got a phone call from a bad person
and the confiscation of a plastic sword, but who refuse to investigate
widespread corruption in industry.

And every day it gets just a little bit worse.

A Sydney restaurant owned by Tourism Minister Andrew Robb
and his family is being promoted by a government-funded $40 million,
18-month Tourism Australia campaign that targets 17 key global markets
to sell the Australian “foodie” experience to the world.

The Robb family restaurant, Boathouse Palm Beach, is showcased on
Tourism Australia’s “Restaurant Australia” website, which was launched
in May, as the “ultimate day trip destination” just an hour from Sydney
and the “perfect place for a relaxed family outing”.

Perhaps Tony Abbott’s daughters earned their job at the UN and
$60,000 scholarship.  Perhaps the contract to BMW had nothing to do with
them giving an Abbott girl a gig.  We will never know.

This is only a sample of how the ruling class are using our nation as
their personal plaything, of how they openly flaunt convention and even
the law, of how they silence dissent and promote their agenda, of how
they bestow rewards.

Until this abuse of power is curtailed, politicians will rightly be reviled as the least trustworthy people in the country.

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