Showing posts with label political rort. Show all posts
Showing posts with label political rort. Show all posts

Sunday, 18 February 2018

"Joyce’s behaviour has wreaked havoc on his family.....has wreaked havoc on the government"


Journalist Nikki Savva writing in The Australian, 15 February 2018:

Barnaby Joyce & Vikki Campion taken at Farm2Fork event on Thursday 3rd November 2016 on Cockatoo Island Sydney. Picture: Supplied
The stories will not disappear. There is a pattern. They abate, then return with a vengeance as soon as something new is uncovered. The hunt for that something new will continue until his head is delivered upon a platter. Unpleasant as it is, that is the reality. No politician, no matter how talented, can survive that, no government can survive that.
Joyce has trashed whatever moral authority he had as leader. He has gone from being funny to a national joke (the beetrooter). He can't live that down, or credibly sell any other government message — be it on religious protections, family values, misuse of taxpayer money or even housing affordability. Taking a break next week to escape attention as acting prime minister would only concede he cannot do the job. There is nowhere he can hide or be hidden.
Joyce's behaviour has wreaked havoc on his family. The perception that public money was used to help fund his dysfunctional private life, combined with the unrelenting media coverage, has wreak­ed havoc on the government. Everyone within splatter range has been tarnished, and the longer he stays the greater the damage to the body corporate and to the Prime Minister. Former Nationals leaders can see that even if the present one can't. Or won't.
Today there seems to be less tolerance for tomfoolery, not more. Blame the new puritanism or even the Me Too movement. More likely it is the corrosive and deepening decline in trust. Once, we (media, voters) used to say it doesn't matter, so long as politicians are good at their job. Now, thanks to the toll that soap operas have taken on our perceptions of politicians, we say: can you please just concentrate on your day job — and if you are going to muck around, don't do it with our money by shifting a paramour/girlfriend/partner from office to office — no matter how good she is at her job. Everything about this saga ensures that trust deficit will widen.
No one can name a single politician who has survived the same combination of events. Even if they did, they also contributed to the deficit. Two notorious philanderers, Bob Hawke and Bill Clinton, survived because their wives stuck with them 1000 per cent. If wives spoke, it was to forgive or stand by their husbands.
That helped voters forgive or stand by them too. But there were no photos of pregnant girlfriends, nor was there a justifiably angry estranged wife condemning the betrayal and sharing her distress with the public.
Nor were they leaders of a conservative party campaigning on traditional family values.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Australian Politics 2017: Greed Unlimited #2


Former Liberal MP for Dunkley Bruce Fredrick Billson is to be investigated.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 September 2017:

Bruce Billson in Parliament. Photo: Andrew Meares

Former government minister Bruce Billson will be examined by a bipartisan committee to determine whether he acted in contempt of Parliament by taking undeclared payments from a business lobby group.

Mr Billson, who retired from Parliament at the July 2016 election after being dumped from the ministry when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took over as leader, announced in March last year he was taking up a position with the Franchise Council of Australia. However, the income from this new position was not declared on his parliamentary register. 

Since the failure to register the separate income was revealed, Liberal MPs have expressed surprise that the former small business minister began receiving his $75,000 salary from the industry group while serving as an MP and he has faced calls to donate the amount in question to charity.

Manager of opposition business Tony Burke, who sought the inquiry, said the committee would investigate if the dual employment raised "any issues that may constitute a contempt of the House or to any issues concerning the appropriate conduct of a member" regarding his responsibilities to voters.

MPs who fail to properly complete their register can be declared in contempt of Parliament, risking a fine of up to $5000 or imprisonment for up to six months. 

Speaker Tony Smith said the House of Representatives still had jurisdiction over former MPs for their actions while in office, as in the case of disgraced Labor politician Craig Thomson who was formally reprimanded in 2015 after leaving Parliament in 2013.

Permitting the referral, Mr Smith noted two possibly relevant matters of contempt in Parliament's procedural handbook: "corruption in the execution of a member's office" and "lobbying for reward or consideration"

On 7 March Billson informed the Registrar of Members’ Interests that he was now the director and a shareholder in a new private company, added a private vehicle to his list of assets, outlined hospitality received as an MP and ended what was the last registry update of his political career with the memorable line:
By 23 March 2016 while still MP for Dunkley Bruce Billson was announcing to the world (but not to the Registrar) that he was now Executive Chairman of the Franchise Council of Australiaa paid position which commenced on 9 March.

Billson retired from parliament at the July 2016 federal election still not having declared this chairmanship or the $75,000 annual salary that went with it to the Registrar of Members’ Interests.

Seventeen months later he is calling this glaring omission “an administrative failing on my behalf”.

Not the words I would use to describe his actions.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Australian Politics 2017: Greed Unlimited


A wealthy former merchant banker and Australian prime minister conservatively worth an estimated $200 million, whose annual parliamentary salary package is worth more than that of an American president, is caught with his greedy hand in the nation’s till……

Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2017:

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to pay back part of his travel expenses nine months after pocketing more than $1000 in allowances when he visited remote indigenous communities in South Australia.

Mr Turnbull will pay for the costs after The Daily Telegraph made inquiries about why the travel allowance had been claimed for accommodation that was provided free.

Finance Department expenditure reports show Mr Turnbull claimed $1130 in accommodation costs for two nights when visiting Umuwa and Scotdesco, in far northern South Australia in October 30 and October 31 last year.

But this newspaper can reveal the Umuwa accommodation was paid for by the South Australian government, not by Mr Turnbull. And the accommodation in Scotdesco costs just $60 per person.

When contacted on Monday, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet declined to comment, instead sending a request for an invoice to the South Australian government, despite the trip taking place nine months ago.

A spokesman for the SA State Development Department confirmed Mr Turnbull had “stayed in accommodation owned by the state government of South Australia at Umuwa on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands”.

Caught out Prime Minister Turnbull hurried to cover his cash grab.

“Following a request from Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet an invoice is being issued for the cost of the accommodation,” he said.

“The request for invoice was on Tuesday 29 August, 2017.”

It is understood that despite the claim of $565 for each night, the cost for accommodating four people in Umuwa, including Mr Turnbull, was $360.

This voter is not impressed by such petty personal greed, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The hypocrisy of Australian politicians is mind boggling


In March 2016, in the wake of a string of abuse of parliamentary entitlement scandals during the mercifully short Abbott Government term in office, the Turnbull Government was handed An Independent Parliamentary Entitlements System Review (February 2016) by a government appointed, five-member committee.


Since then the federal government appears to have conveniently forgotten the other thirty-three recommendations – although the fact that a handful of these may not have been implemented might in part be due to decision making processes of the Remuneration Tribunal.

Although cynical voters could take the view that the lack of timely implementation is more likely due to the fact that these recommendations included clearly separating parliamentary entitlements into “remuneration” (salary package) and “work expenses” such as “travel expenses, travel allowances, vehicle allowances and electorate allowances”, as well as MP expenditure reporting to be changed to every 30 days and a clearer definition of “parliamentary business” applied.

Now in light of further alleged rorting of the entitlement system by his ministers, Malcolm Turnbull has announced the government will implement the remaining review recommendations by the end of June 2017.

Given there have been two previous reviews of parliamentary entitlements - in 2009 and 2011 - which have not even made a dent in the sense of personal entitlement which exists within the corridors of the Australian Parliament, I won’t be holding my breath in anticipation.

Especially as the Prime Minister in his press conference on 13 January 2017 was careful not to mention establishing stiff financial penalties for such blatant rorting but did mention creating an independent parliamentary expenses authority which would in effect distance government and parliament from any poor decisions made concerning implementation of the 'new' rules.

The thought of the type of person who is likely to end up on the board of this authority makes one shudder - political cronies of the government in power, MPs & senators who lost their seats or were forced by scandal to resign, former political staffers in need of an income and the worthless scions of big political donors .

The hypocrisy of Coalition Government MPs and senators (who since 2013 have consistently signed off on budget measures and legislative/regulation rule changes which border on thinly disguised class warfare) continuing to line up at the overflowing entitlement trough is quite frankly mind blowing.

While the thought of these same politicians attempting what may possibly end up being a legislative change charade, leaving them still able to use taxpayers as personal cash cows, is more than a little depressing.

* Image found on Twitter

Monday, 9 January 2017

Australian Health Minister admits abusing her parliamentary entitlements


Sussan Ley admitted the error of her ways once she was found out, but then tries to restrict any investigation of her ministerial use of car and air travel allowances to only those trips to and from the Gold Coast area in Queensland.



I have spent the past 48 hours examining my travel records.

I travelled to Brisbane on 9 May 2015 to make a major announcement about the availability of new medicines at a specialist breast cancer clinic and to meet with patients in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast. As I had to be in Canberra on Sunday 10 May I decided to stay the night of 9 May on the Gold Coast rather than incur considerable extra expense by flying back to Albury and then to Canberra the following day. This travel is within the rules provided.

However, I have always sought to apply higher standards for myself in using valuable taxpayers’ funds.

While attending an auction was not the reason for my visit to Queensland or the Gold Coast, I completely understand this changed the context of the travel undertaken. The distinction between public and private business should be as clear as possible when dealing with taxpayers’ money.

I have spoken to the Prime Minister and he agrees that this claim does not meet the high standards he expects of Ministers. I apologise for the error of judgement.

Tomorrow I will ask the Department of Finance to invoice me for the costs for the car and travel allowance claimed on Saturday 9 May 2015, including the relevant penalty applied to erroneous claims.

My examination of my travel records has also brought to my attention two other claims for accommodation on the Gold Coast in 2014 and 2015 where I should have stayed and claimed in Brisbane, as well as a single one-way flight from Coolangatta to Canberra in June 2015.

I will also ask the Department of Finance to invoice me the costs of these claims, as well as the relevant penalty.

In the interests of total transparency, I will ask the department to review all my ministerial travel to the Gold Coast.

As a member of federal parliament for over fifteen years Sussan Ley well knew the rules regarding parliamentary entitlements. 

If Ms. Ley wishes to be fully transparent then all her travel claims since she first entered the ministry on 18 September 2013 should be audited.

* Undated but believed to be on or about 8 January 2017

Thursday, 20 October 2016

It's spring and the smell of entitlement is thick in the air......


The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 2016:

At least four Liberal MPs thrown out by voters at the July federal election have picked up plum jobs as taxpayer-funded advisers to their former colleagues. 
Senate President Stephen Parry revealed in Senate estimates hearings on Monday that he had hired his former Tasmanian colleague, Eric Hutchinson, for a newly-created role in his office.

Mr Hutchinson could be paid up to $160,000 a year including superannuation, depending on his grading. 

Fairfax Media can also reveal that Matt Williams and Karen McNamara, who were both defeated at the July poll, have been employed as advisers by their former colleagues.

Mr Williams, who held the seat of Hindmarsh, is working as a policy adviser to fellow South Australian Simon Birmingham, the Minister for Education.

Ms McNamara, the former member for Dobell on the NSW Central Coast, is working as a part-time adviser to NSW senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific.

A spokeswoman for Senator Fierravanti-Wells said Ms McNamara, a former lawyer, was advising the minister on seasonal worker policy.

Former Eden Monaro MP Peter Hendy was hired by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as his chief economist after losing the marginal seat.

The practice of "warehousing" - which sees former MPs employed as advisers before making another run for office -  has been used by both sides of politics…..

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

NSW Political Donations & Election Funding: over the next six months watch for further mentions buried deep in mainstream newspapers


The Sydney Morning Herald on 30 August 2016 indicated that NSW voters may yet see a number of former state politicians fronting local magistrates in the near future:

Former NSW Liberal MPs have been issued letters of demand to repay potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal donations solicited before the 2011 state election.

As the corruption watchdog prepares to table its report into Liberal Party rorting of political donations laws on Tuesday, Fairfax Media can reveal the NSW electoral commission has issued the demand to some of those caught up in the Operation Spicer inquiry.

The electoral commission has the power to demand repayment of illegal donations. If it is determined that an MP or candidate knew the donation was illegal, they can be forced to repay twice the amount.

An electoral commission spokesman would not release names of those sent the demand, but confirmed it had completed an investigation.

It had "formed the view that sufficient evidence is available to justify recovery action against some of the persons who have received or benefited from unlawful donations, loans or indirect campaign contributions," he said.

"Those persons have been issued with demands for payment. The commission reserves its right to pursue recovery action in the event of non-payment."
It is understood there is some uncertainty over whether the former MPs can be prosecuted under the Election, Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act.

The time within which prosecutions can be launched was extended from three to 10 years by Premier Mike Baird in October 2014, but the change only applied to offences committed after that date. The offences in question were committed in 2010.

But there is a question over whether the law could be applied from when they were uncovered by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2014 and therefore fall within the original three-year limit…..

The Australian on 31 August 2016 reported that the NSW Liberal Party is still short of funds due to donor identity issues:

The NSW Liberal Party could launch legal action against the NSW Electoral Commission ­if attempts to recover about $4.3 million in withheld campaign funding are unsuccessful.

The party’s state division has been forced to renegotiate millions of dollars in loans taken out from Westpac to cover the shortfall. It is understood division chiefs were hopeful that the findings of Operation Spicer — which found that few within the party’s hierarchy knew about the donations scheme run through the now-­defunct Free Enterprise Foundation — would clear the way for the return of the money.

Instead, it appears the NSW Electoral Commission is continuing to demand the party conduct an audit of all its donations to ­ensure there were no inappropriate third-party donations such as those made through the Free Enterprise Foundation, which took prohibited donations from developers including Brickworks and Elmslea Land Developments.

In a statement, however, the NSW Liberal Party said only that it “continues to work with the NSW Electoral Commission in relation to its 2010-11 return”.

A NSW Electoral Commission spokesman said there had been “no change in relation to the commission’s determination to withhold funding”.

“The party is ineligible for funding on the basis that it has not disclosed the identity of donors for the 2010-11 ­period,” he said. “The party’s eligibility for public funding is not ­related to the ICAC report. Eligibility is prescribed in the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981.”

The Daily Telegraph on 22 September 2016 reported that the Liberal Party finally submitted the required donors names and one former Liberal MP has returned $10,000 of the $60,000 in unlawful donations the party received in 2011:

The Liberal Party will get the $3.8 million of the $4.4 million the Electoral Commission withheld from it because of its receipt of illegal donations during the 2011 state election campaign, the Commission has announced in a statement this afternoon.

The Electoral Commission had withheld the money pending what it believed was a proper declaration by the Liberal Party in relation to the illegal developer donations funnelled through the Free Enterprise Foundation and exposed by ICAC.

The Electoral Commission has also announced that it has received a $10,000 payment from former Liberal Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell, which relates to money he received from developer Jeff McCloy during the 2011 election campaign.

“Following an investigation by inspectors of the NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC), the NSWEC determined that a number of unlawful donations were made to endorsed candidates of the NSW Liberal Party in the lead up to the 2011 State election.” a statement from the Electoral Commission said.

“This investigation was informed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Operation Spicer.

“One of the matters examined as part of this investigation was a AU$10,000 cash donation for the benefit of former MP Andrew Cornwell.

“That donation was subsequently paid into the account of the Charlestown State Electoral Conference, NSW Liberal Party.

“The NSWEC has the power to take legal action to recover the value of unlawful donations……

On the payment to the Liberal Party, the Commission said: “On 23 March 2016 the NSW Electoral Commission NSWEC determined to withhold almost AU 4.4 million in administrative and election funding from the Liberal Party of Australia, NSW Division (NSW Liberal Party) due to the party’s failure to disclose past donations.

“The donations were primarily made to the party by donors via the Free Enterprise Foundation in the 2010-11 disclosure period.

“On 22 September 2016 the NSWEC determined that a number of these and other undisclosed donations were unlawful and deducted the value of the unlawful donations from the amount of public funding payable to the party.

However ongoing political donation issues are not confined to New South Wales.  North of the Rio Tweed, the Queensland Liberal National Party was reported in the Brisbane Times on 25 September 2016 as having troubles of its own:

A special anti-corruption taskforce has been assigned to investigate claims of dodgy political donations that have embroiled Turnbull government MP Stuart Robert and a Liberal fundraising body he controls.

The investigation comes amid new questions about Mr Robert's connections to property developer Sunland and his support for the company's controversial $600 million plan for two high-rise towers on the Gold Coast.

Mr Robert has admitted his Fadden Forum – a fundraising arm of the Queensland Liberal National Party – was used to secretly bankroll two candidates with $60,000 to run in the March Gold Coast City Council election.

Kristyn Boulton and Felicity Stevenson, who were given $30,000 each, were both members of Mr Robert's staff but ran as independents and did not disclose their Liberal links until after the poll. Ms Boulton was successfully elected while Ms Stevenson failed and returned to Mr Robert's employ.

Political rivals have accused Mr Robert and the LNP of seeking to stack the council by stealth with pro-development councillors.

The Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission this month launched an investigation into the election and has assigned a "specialist team" with political expertise to spearhead the investigation.

It's understood the investigation will seek to examine the provenance of money donated to the Fadden Forum, including suggestions it came from property developers whose involvement was concealed.

One high-profile donor to the Fadden Forum has been Gold Coast developer lobbyist Simone Holzapfel, a former adviser to Tony Abbott, who gave more than $100,000 to the fundraising vehicle.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: a rabble of rorters


So Liberal MPs politically profile their constituents on the back of the taxpayer dollar and, that money is paid on to a company which sends these dollars to the political arm of the Liberal Party of Australia.

And they wonder why their polling is so very ordinary?


You don't know it, but you might be one of the Liberal Party's largest donors. 

A company Liberal MPs direct taxpayer funds towards to keep tabs on voter behaviour is becoming a major source of income for the party, raising questions about whether taxpayers are indirectly footing the bill for donations.

Fairfax Media can reveal nearly all Liberal MPs pay a company, Parakeelia Pty Ltd, $2500 a year to use "Feedback" software, money understood to come from their taxpayer-funded office allowances.

Parakeelia is registered to the same inner-Canberra office building as the Liberals. The company's directors include the Liberal Party's federal director, Tony Nutt, and president, Richard Alston. It is registered with authorities as being associated with the party.

Last financial year, Parakeelia transferred $500,000 to the federal Liberal division, making it the party's second-biggest single source of funds. The year before it came in fourth with $400,000; before that $200,000.

But the Liberals would not say how much of the company's revenue began as taxpayer funding.

Some party figures question whether the party is profiting from public funding.

"What are the costs to them from running the software?," asked one former Liberal MP. "You'd have to say minimal. Our contributions per MP are very small, so we never really could know if they were turning a buck or not."

The last time this information was disclosed, a decade ago, half of Parakeelia's revenues came from MP offices. The balance was mostly money from the Liberal Party machine.

The software logs information about an MP's constituents. Every time a voter calls an office, or writes a letter to the local paper, electorate staff make a note about any information gleaned about their political views. Staff also proactively research community groups and businesses and add it to the files……

Parakeelia Pty Ltd declared to the Australian Electoral Commission that it directly gave the federal Liberal Party an estimated $550,392 - for an election campaign which gave us Tony Abbott as prime minister. 

The same associated entity will directly hand the federal Liberals at least $269,176 to try and keep Malcolm Turnbull in office.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Tony 'I live to freeload' Abbott and the public purse


Remember when Prime Minister Tony Abbott made a great show of rejecting an alleged 2.4 per cent increase to his $507,338 per annum parliamentary salary – even though the remuneration tribunal had made it clear he was never getting an increase in 2014 in the first place?

Well, the Remuneration Tribunal Determination 2014/16: Members of Parliament –Travelling Allowance has been published and it seems that from 31 August 2014 he still has a rather generous allowance for those many nights staying in a self-contained flat at the Australian Federal Police training college in Canberra:

Prime Minister shall be provided with accommodation and sustenance up to a limit of $560 for each overnight stay in a place other than an official establishment or the Prime Minister’s home base. Accommodation and sustenance at official establishments shall be provided at government expense…..
In exceptional circumstances, the Commonwealth may pay the accommodation and sustenance costs incurred by the Prime Minister
where those costs exceed $560 where:
(i) those costs are incurred in respect of overnight stays in a place other than an official establishment or the Prime Minister’s home base; and
(ii) the overnight stay is occasioned by official business as the Prime Minister

Abbott already takes full advantage of his prime ministerial travel allowance:
Snapshot from The Canberra Times 27 August 2014

UPDATE

Unfortunately for Abbott, his pork pies to his senators have also come back to haunt him as those leaks to the media continue.

The Sydney Morning Herald 28 August 2014:

Tony Abbott broke with tradition and skipped an annual black tie dinner held for government senators when he attended a party fund-raiser in Melbourne on Monday night….
Almost every government senator attended the dinner at the Boathouse restaurant in Canberra. The leader is always invited and usually attends, Fairfax has been told.
This year Deputy Liberal Leader Julie Bishop and Nationals Leader Warren Truss were the Coalition star attractions.
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said Mr Abbott "receives a lot of requests to attend functions. Unfortunately, he can't accommodate them all".
The spokeswoman said "none of the dates proposed for the Coalition senators' dinner could be accommodated".
The dinner is always scheduled for the first Monday night of the first sitting week after the winter break.
One source said Mr Abbott's absence from the dinner was partly behind Senator Macdonald's decision to publicly question the Prime Minister's priorities.
They expressed surprise that the Prime Minister would choose to attend a fund-raiser instead of spending time with senators, some of whom have openly opposed the leadership on budget measures, the Racial Discrimination Act and the planned parental leave scheme. 

The Australian 28 August 2014:

LIBERAL and Nationals senators were gathering for their annual black-tie dinner on Monday night when a whisper went around the room that Tony Abbott wouldn’t be coming. As they chattered over drinks at the Boat House restaurant in Canberra, the senators heard the Prime Minister had to skip the event this year to attend to national security matters.
Only the next day did they learn they had been rubbed out of their leader’s diary so he could get to a fundraising dinner in Melbourne the same night….
Whether the grievance is a dinner cancellation, a late arrival or an overnight policy switch on racial discrimination laws, the backbench sees a recurring problem: a lack of respect for party colleagues…..
Tuesday’s meeting heard a rebuke about the “brains trust” in the Prime Minister’s office that keeps springing surprises on the backbench, while several MPs warned about the unpopularity of budget measures including the $7 copayment on GP visits.
Victorian Liberal Russell Broadbent challenged Education Minister Christopher Pyne on the $5 billion cuts to university funding.
NSW Liberal Russell Matheson questioned whether key ­policies were being neglected by merging portfolios such as health and sport and aged care.
Queensland Liberal National Party MP Warren Entsch was sharply critical of the way MPs would first learn of decisions by reading about them in the newspapers.
That point was drummed home when one MP stood to complain about the way Abbott abandoned the amendments to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act without any consultation with the backbench.
“We may as well not exist, that’s what it comes down to,” said one member of the party room yesterday.
The argument from MPs is that if they are consulted they have some ownership of the outcome. Right now, they feel, they are being denied the opportunity to be even seen to contribute to a decision, let alone get the ear of the leader.
As usual, some of the concerns focus on Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, who is blamed for the “command and control” style of government.