The Abbott Coalition government instituted a Royal Commissions into the Home Insulation Program, a program begun by the Rudd Labor government as part of its response to the Global Financial Crisis and to increase energy efficiency1. The program insulated 1.2 million homes and it has been estimated that by 2015, it had produced savings of about 20 Terawatt hours of electricity and the equivalent of 6.9 Terawatt hours of gas. However, four workers died in the program through electrocution and hyperthermia2, and the newly elected Abbott government used this as an excuse to attempt to smear the former government as much as possible. The Royal Commission found that the biggest problem that could be levelled at the Rudd government was with the termination of the program and the crash in demand which damaged numerous businesses financially1. The deaths were due mostly to poor training and poor business practices. While this is an example of the misuse of the powers of a Royal Commission for political purposes, and the misuse of taxpayer funds in so doing, there are many things which need investigating after the current government is voted out. Instead of Royal Commissions, a federal integrity body should do the trick nicely. The things which need investigating include:
Dutton’s au pair intervention3
Home Affairs Minister Dutton intervened using his ministerial discretion to grant visas to two female au pairs in 2015, despite one initially being denied and the other having been counselled about work restrictions. Details are being kept secret.
Cash’s involvement in AFP raid on AWU offices4,5
Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash, seems to have been somehow involved in tipping off the media about Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on the offices of the Australian Workers’ Union. The AFP has been ‘investigating’ this, but this seems to be taking an inordinately long time. It is not unreasonable to suspect that the AFP has been asked by the government to run dead on this investigation.
Fifield’s $30 million gift to Foxtel6
The federal Department of Communications has refused to release details of a massive $30 million gift to Foxtel, which is 65% owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia and 35% by Telstra. No documentation was ever made public and it is suspected that ther is no documentation, and that the ‘support of underrepresented sport’ was simply an afterthought as a form of justification.
$444m grant to Great Barrier Reef Foundation7,8
Minister for the Environment, Josh Frydenberg announced a grant of $444 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Under questioning from a Senate Estimates committee, it was clear that the government had not conducted a competitive process, and it failed to explain how it decided to award the cash to the foundation, an organisation which has 6 full time staff and has an annual turnover of $8-10 million. In response to climate change, the foundation only talks about ‘reef resilience’ on its website rather than decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, although they do mention the Paris Agreement. It sounds more like something from the ‘game of mates’ rather than an attempt to do anything about saving the reef.
Vikki Campion’s jobs and Barnaby Joyce’s travel allowances9
Campion apparently had two jobs created for her while involved with Joyce, and Joyce was paid travelling allowance for 50 days in Canberra while Parliament was not sitting. Joyce and Campion occupied rent-free accommodation provided by a millionaire donor to the National Party. It was rumoured that a security system was installed at the accommodation, at taxpayers’ expense; however, this cannot be confirmed.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority relocation10,11
What needs to be determined was why the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority moved when just about everyone said it would be disastrous for the organisation and its program. This proved to be the case. It also needs to be determined who stood to benefit from the relocation, and their relationship to Barnaby Joyce and the National Party.
Coalition coverup of dual citizenship12
It is estimated there are at least five and perhaps as many as fourteen Coalition members of the House of Representatives and Senators who were ineligible to run for election. This is because of Section 44 of the Constitution, which states that anyone who is a citizen or is entitled to be a citizen of another nation, is ineligible to run for the federal parliament. However, the government refuses to refer any of them to the High Court.
Behaviour of Peter Dutton over people incarcerated on Manus and Nauru13,14,15
The incarceration of adults and children on Manus Island in Papua new Guinea and Nauru. Some of the children have spent their entire lives in these detention centres, and it is clearly at great risk to their mental health. The fact that the Australian Government resists all attempts to even bring a child from these detention centres beggars belief and is in contravention of our obligations under several international agreements to which we are a signatory.
Illegal pumping of water from the Murray-Darling Basin16
Billions of litres of water purchased as ‘buybacks’ by taxpayers to save Australia’s inland rivers are being taken illegally to boost cotton-growing operations, which is making a joke of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This effectively means that taxpayers have been subsidising already wealthy big irrigators.
Fraud and theft in Department of Defence17,18
There have been allegations of fraud going back years in the Department of Defence, but an internal investigation has identified breaches of procurement practice, avoidance of competitive tender processes, lost paperwork and general maladministration. In addition, there have been numerous cases of things going missing at defence installations, with one of the worst cases being one site where 200,000 litres of fuel disappeared in a single year.
Illegal political donations19,20
This is rampant, and there is a considerable amount of money laundering going on. For instance, it is illegal for political parties in New South Wales to accept donations from property developers, so what do they do? They launder it through the federal branch or through one of the other state branches, or through one of the other fund-raising front organisations.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of probably nefarious practices undertaken by this government. When the federal integrity body is established, and it will be, it needs to be properly funded and staffed, so that all that needs investigating will be.