Corruption galore 9

By April 24, 2021Australian Politics, Society

As I said when I posted the eighth compilation of instances of corruption1-8, it is difficult to write something new when the corruption that is endemic in the Liberal and National parties, both at a federal and state level continues on, and on, and on. The level of corruption clearly on display outrages me, especially because the politicians seem unconcerned when any of it becomes public because they know that the media will drift onto another topic within a day or two and it will quietly fade away, and they will get away with it. The corrupt in government need to face justice.

The Rural Business Tasmania scandal

When Bridget McKenzie was Minister for Agriculture, she approved an ‘Ad hoc/One-off’ grant to Rural Business Tasmania for $350,000 for the purpose of support for a Rural Financial Counselling Service Programme’. This service is currently promoted on the Department of Agriculture website. Now, just after this grant money started flowing, guess who gets a job as an ‘Associate Small Business Financial Counsellor’ at Rural Business Tasmania? None other than Rhett McKenzie-Edwards – Bridget McKenzie’s son. McKenzie-Edwards has no rural or business financial counselling qualifications or experience. McKenzie-Edwards is also a member of the Tasmanian Nationals Executive Council.9

The Braddon by-election scandal

In July, 2018, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton charged taxpayers more than $36,000 to charter a Royal Australian Air Force jet to Tasmania to make a grants announcement for CCTV systems for Burnie and Waratah-Wynyard councils, worth a combined $194,000. This was a month before the rules for the third round of Safer Communities Fund were published and applications opened and was during the 2018 Braddon by-election campaign. A Home Affairs department briefing shows Dutton was ultimately advised in January 2019 against approving the two grants on the grounds they did “not represent value for money in accordance with the program guidelines”. He overruled the advice. Defence records of VIP RAAF flights show Mr Dutton travelled from Brisbane to Wynyard in northern Tasmania on July 15, where he stayed overnight before taking the jet back to Brisbane. The total cost, including the jet’s return to its base in Canberra, was $36,340.10

The Mt Riverview RFS scandal

When questioned about the disparity between distribution of the bushfire recovery funding, New South Wales deputy premier John Barilaro said: “The Blue Mountains … didn’t meet the criteria”, which included “a million-dollar minimum threshold.” Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill said: “That was the first we ever heard of criteria! There had been no mention of any criteria whatsoever, written or spoken”. One Blue Mountains project that was knocked back was a $75,000 grant to give the Mt Riverview Rural Fire Service expanded facilities for their 80 male and female volunteers. They currently have to share a shack with one toilet and no changeroom. No fewer than 34 of the grants handed out were under the $1 million threshold, including $131,000 to a Kempsey oyster farm; $43,000 to a cellar door in the Snowy Valley region, and $107,000 to Macleay River Haulage in Kempsey Shire to “purchase safe and effective machinery that will produce bulk firewood”. All of those grants were in Coalition electorates.11

The M9 scandal

A Transport for NSW official was outraged over the apparent leaking of the route of a Sydney motorway to controversial former MP Daryl Maguire, former boyfriend of NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, allowing a Chinese developer linked to the MP to go on a land buying spree along the corridor. An internal file note documenting the top bureaucrat’s concerns has been tabled in NSW Parliament. In the document, Transport for NSW executive director Tim Raimond notes a senior colleague was demanding answers after the apparent leaking of confidential departmental information. The file note was created after a decision by Hong Kong developer Country Garden to splash out $85 million on the purchase of farmland at Cawdor, on the south-west outskirts of Sydney, in 2017. Country Garden reportedly wrote to planning authorities in December 2017 lobbying for an interchange to be built because the new M9 motorway was anticipated “to pass through the north-east corner of the site”. However, the motorway route was not publicly unveiled until three months after the letter was written.12

The ASIC report scandal

Dr Vivienne Thom, a former federal Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, has quit her long-standing senior role at Canberra-based private investigations and workplace review company, CPM Reviews. Thom joined CPM Reviews after leaving her job overseeing the nation’s major security agencies in 2015. She was tasked with conducting an ‘independent investigation’ into the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) scandal, after revelations that ASIC chair James Shipton had received $118,557 in personal tax advice at the public’s expense. Thom handed her final report to Treasury on December 1. However, treasurer Josh Frydenberg has refused to release it, and only published a whitewashed and reworked “abridged version” some time later.13-15

Building Better Regions Fund scandal

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and a secret group of government ministers intervened in the selection of more than a third of the projects funded from a $200m regional grant fund. In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2019 election, McCormack announced $200 million in spending under the third round of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) for 330 projects across Australia. Under the Commonwealth Grant Rules, ministers must disclose to the Finance Minister when they approve grants which go against the recommendations of their department and give reasons for doing so. A letter from McCormack to then Finance Minister Mathias Cormann stated: “Of the 330 projects approved under round three of the BBRF, a total of 112 as listed … were chosen by the ministerial panel against the department’s recommendations.” That was all.16

The Southern Bay Cyclones rugby club scandal

Liberal National MP Andrew Laming awarded a $550,000 grant to the Southern Bay Cyclones rugby union club under the government’s controversial Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream grants program. The grant is one of five that have been awarded to the club in the past three years through Laming, with four others nominated by the MP totalling $33,500. The grant was awarded for the redevelopment of a clubhouse at the Charlie Buckler Memorial sports field at Redland Bay. The secretary of the club is James Eaton, who is married to Laming’s electorate officer, Stephanie Eaton. Laming did not disclose the personal link to his long-serving electoral officer. The funding was awarded under the controversial $150m female facilities and water safety stream, which was never open to applications, and had no departmental involvement, with projects selected as election commitments and most located in Coalition-held seats. All $150m of the fund was spent during the election campaign.17

The Redlands organisations scandal

Liberal National MP Andrew Laming awarded two grants to community organisations run by an LNP branch president and administered by his own electorate officer, while the organisations used their platforms to promote the LNP. Laming is also listed as a patron of one of the organisations – Community Connections Redlands Coast – which received a $10,000 grant for the purchase of audio-visual equipment through the Stronger Communities grant program. Another grant for $11,500 was awarded to the Redlands Coast Salad Bowl for the establishment of community gardens. Both organisations were co-founded by the president of the Liberal National Party’s Redlands branch, Craig Luxton. The secretary of both of the organisations is Laming’s own electorate officer, Stephanie Eaton.18

The Safer Communities grants scandal

Then Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton personally slashed millions in Safer Communities grant funding from organisations that were strongly recommended by his department to improve community safety, and used the funds to support his own handpicked list that did not follow his department’s recommendations. Dutton also made grants for two councils that his department recommended should not be funded at all. Dutton was warned by his department, in a previously confidential ministerial briefing, that overruling the merit system could draw scrutiny from the Australian National Audit Office or from news organisations. The Auditor-General has now stated that an investigation will be launched into the Safer Communities program.19,20

Not a property developer scandal

Strathfield mayor, Liberal Antoine Doueihi, who declared he wasn’t a property developer in material lodged to the NSW Electoral Commission, is a director and shareholder of multiple companies with dealings in the property industry, including one behind a 24-apartment complex in the suburb of Sutherland. While property developers are not prohibited from sitting on local councils, they are banned from making political donations in NSW. Doueihi donated almost $10,000 to the Liberal Party team running for Strathfield council during 2017 local government elections. He has donated small amounts to the party since.21

The Christian Churches Conference scandal

Prime Minister Scott Morrison used a RAAF jet to fly to the Gold Coast to attend the Australian Christian Churches National Conference at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. Morrison flew to the Gold Coast in the afternoon of April 20 and returned to Sydney in the evening. This was at taxpayers’ expense.22




  • Mark Dougall says:

    The LNP has worked out that the best way to eliminate corruption is to get rid of “red tape”, or “green tape”, or any other coloured tape. Yes, all these rules and regulations, and people like auditors, or corruption commissioners, they all just hold them and their slimy mates back from getting on with what they do best. “Rules, I broke no rules, there aren’t any.”

  • Russell says:

    The Liberal ministry is so full of self-entitled prigs and pri… like Morrison and Dutton. One lone person taking a huge plane at taxpayer expense is simply stupid economically, but they do it because we the public generally aren’t informed of this type of rorting ( – and don’t forget the RAAF jet Cormann flew in all over Europe, to curry favour for winning the position of OECD Director. Which he got, unbelievably. God, he was a cigar-puffing mediocrity in his Canberra role.) Abuse of Commonwealth air transport usage should be on Labor’s list of proposed reforms should they get government again. These exploiters of the taxpayer remind me of Versailles-dwelling foppish aristocrats in 1789, who had almost no idea that stupid disregard of the French population’s rising fury would soon put their necks under the guillotine blade. IF ONLY we could make that bit of history repeat itself for smug, morally low (and now war mongering!) types like Potato-head.

    • admin says:

      I believe if things do not change, and especially if the Coalition are re-elected, there will be violence in the streets. Maybe not such a meltdown as in 1789, but not too far away from it. I think the main problem is that the religious are aiming to take complete control of the Liberal Party (more on that in future) and wind back all the advances we have made in the last few decades, as well as legislating some of their pet bigotries.

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