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Corruption Galore 2

April 30, 2020 - 11:47 -- Admin

This is the second in
what will probably end up being a series of lists providing a brief overview (with
links to more detailed explanations) of the corruption of the federal Coalition
Government. Given that the first list was a compilation from several sources, and
was published here on March 8, 20201, the fact that compiling this
second list has taken less than two months is testament to the rampant
corruption in the federal Coalition government. This political corruption is mostly
concerned with lavishing taxpayers’ money on themselves, mates or former colleagues,
laundering taxpayers’ funds so that a proportion of them can find their way
into the Liberal Party or National Party coffers as donations, or spraying
money around electorates in the leadup to elections as a way of garnering votes.
Whichever of these it is, it is still corruption, and must be stamped out.

Parakeelia is a company owned, in some unclear way, by the Liberal Party. It
provides software services to the party’s federal members of Parliament – voter
monitoring software that compiles information about constituents. That
information appears to be largely compiled by MPs’ electorate staff: i.e.,
Liberal Party operatives. No doubt it’s highly valuable data. Reportedly each
Liberal MP in Federal Parliament pays Parakeelia several thousand dollars each
year for access to it. The MPs get that money from us. The source is the
Parliamentary Entitlements Act, one of numerous instruments which supplement
MPs’ salaries. This gives each MP an allowance for their electorate office,
such as “equipment, facilities, office requisites and stationery necessary to
operate the office, as approved by the Minister, for purposes related to
Parliamentary, electorate or official business, but not commercial business”.
Nor is it supposed to be for Liberal Party business. “Office requisites”
include software and that is what Parakeelia provides. So, the Liberal Party
owns Parakeelia, Liberal Party members pay Parakeelia for their software out of
their parliamentary allowances, and that money goes to the Liberal Party. It is
simply a way of siphoning or laundering taxpayer funds to the Liberal Party2-5.

Six taxpayer-funded grants were approved in
the key Queensland marginal seat of Longman, now held by Liberal National MP Terry Young, through the Department of Social
Services in the month before the last federal election, including $177,000 for
the Bribie Island and Districts Junior Rugby League Club. The club received
funding from the $60m Mutual Understanding, Support, Tolerance, Engagement and
Respect (Muster) initiative, one of a number of programs distributing grants on
a closed, non-competitive basis, requiring invitations from the department to
apply6.

Tens of thousands of dollars in grant money
was handed to a gun club and a church with links to federal government MPs. The
Stronger Communities grant scheme awarded more than $40,000 total to the Port
Bouvard Pistol and Small Bore Rifle Club and the Clovercrest Baptist Church,
which have links to Liberals. The Stronger Communities program gives local MPs
a gatekeeper-type role in the application process. Only organisations that have
been formally invited by MPs are eligible for a grant. The scheme’s guidelines
contain rules requiring MPs and applicants to take steps to avoid conflicts of
interest, including disclosing “any professional, commercial or personal
relationship with a party who is able to influence the application selection
process”. The Port Bouvard gun club boasts Andrew
Hastie
, the Liberal MP for Canning, as its patron. Hastie has competed
there at least twice at invitational events. The club, located in Mandurah,
south of Perth, received the maximum possible grant of $20,000 in late 20187.

Fortescue Metals, retail giant Wesfarmers,
two NRL clubs, and Catholic and Anglican welfare organisations were awarded
millions of dollars from a fund for alleviating Indigenous disadvantage. The
former Indigenous affairs minister Nigel
Scullion
approved more than $560m worth of funding in his final six weeks
in the role, ahead of the announcement of the federal election in 2019. Fortescue
Metals received a grant of $3.8m for “strategic activities that focus on
getting Indigenous Australians into work, fostering Indigenous business and
assisting Indigenous people to generate economic and social benefits from
effective use of their land, particularly in remote areas”. The funds from the
federal government’s controversial Indigenous Advancement Strategy were
approved on 5 April 2019, just six days before the Morrison government went
into caretaker mode. Indigenous Affairs
department representatives said in a senate enquiry that in 12 cases, Scullion
funded projects the department had advised against8.

The Scott
Morrison
government has refused to release details of a $3.9 million
“act of grace” payment made the day before the 2019 federal election
was called. The application was lodged with the Department of Foreign Affairs
and Trade on January 6, 2017 but took until April 10 last year to be approved
by the finance minister. A day later, the government went into the caretaker
period during which no major policy decisions or undertakings can be made. The
payment but not the names of the recipients was revealed in an answer to a
parliamentary question9.

Christopher
Pyne
took a job with EY straight after leaving politics
– despite the fact he was the Defence Minister and EY had been awarded $21
million in contracts to do consulting work for the Defence Force. Pyne
discussed the job while still a minister, and took it up a short time after
leaving parliament. The laughable
Statement of Ministerial Standards says that for 18 months after they leave
office, former ministers will not lobby members of the Government on matters
they had dealt with as a minister10,11.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
had no idea Julie Bishop was taking
a job with Palladium, a multinational corporation and one of Australia’s
biggest foreign aid contractors, until it was publicly announced. Bishop, the
former Foreign Affairs minister, had only left parliament months earlier, and this
is a breach of the laughable ministerial standards which states that politician
should wait 18 months before taking a job relating to their ministerial
responsibilities12.

Chinese businesswoman Sally Zou is a key
sponsor of the Port Power AFL club, owner and director of AusGold Mining Group,
and promotes her interests through social media and newspaper ads. She established a company called the Julie
Bishop Glorious Foundation, apparently in homage to Australia’s Foreign
Minister. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has
claimed she was in no way aware that Zou had set up the Julie Bishop Glorious Foundation. Zou is one of the Liberal Party’s
largest donors, having donated $360,000 to the South Australian Liberal Party
and $100,000 to the Federal Liberal Party. One of the sensitive issues for the
Liberal Party might be that questions have been raised about links Ms Zou’s
family is claimed to have with the Chinese Government13-15.

Shane
Stone
is to be paid $500k per annum to oversee
flood recovery efforts in rural Queensland. This salary is nearly the same as that
paid to the Prime Minister. Stone is a former Liberal Party President and his appointment was among several announced in the
months prior to the 2019 federal election, with links to the
Coalition parties16.

Barnaby
Joyce
says there was no conflict of interest in his
ownership of more than $500,000 worth of land holdings, which is why he did not
declare it during cabinet deliberations about an inland rail project that
passes within 15km of those land holdings, and when built will substantially
increase the value of that land17.

Arthur Sinodinos could recall very little under oath when
questioned by NSW Indpendent Commission Against Corruption regarding Australian
Water Holdings Pty Ltd (AWH) (of which he was deputy chairman), and its large
donation ($74,000) to the Liberal Party, despite being the treasurer of the
Liberal Party at the time. The inquiry heard AWH was
pursuing a lucrative public-private partnership (PPP) with the NSW government
that would have made Sinodinos between $10m and $20m and the family of disgraced
former Labor party powerbroker Eddie Obeid about $100m18,19.

Under the Tony Abbott government, Sarina Russo Job Access won two major
federal government contracts with the Department of Education and Training
through open tender. The contracts in New South Wales and the Australian
Capital Territory were worth $41.2 million and $4.4 million respectively. In June 2010 Sarina Russo Job Access donated $20,000 to the federal Liberal Party20.

On 22 January 2014, Simon Brandis, the son
of federal Attorney General George
Brandis
, was given notice to appear in court, accused of wilful damage to
property. He was facing a punishment of up to five years in jail. His defence
lawyer was one Theo Tavoularis, whose law firm donated $1200 to the Liberal
Party in August 2013. In May 2016, two days before Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull called a double dissolution election, George Brandis sprang into
action. In the final hours before caretaker mode began, Brandis raised eyebrows
in the legal community by announcing 76 appointments to the Administrative
Appeals Tribunal. One of these appointees was Theo Tavoularis. His job pays $375,000
per annum21,22.

Tony
Abbott’s
daughter Frances received a ‘chairman’s
scholarship’ for a Bachelor of Design degree costing more than $60,000 from the
Whitehouse Institute of Design where an Abbott donor sits as chairman on the
board of governors. Spokesman for the Institute declines to say how many times
a ‘chairman’s scholarship’ had been awarded and its website stated it “does not
currently offer scholarships to gain a place into the Bachelor of Design”23.

Indian mining giant Adani Mining and its
subsidiary Carmichael Rail Network donated $247,300 to the Coalition during the
2018-19 financial year, data released by the Australian Electoral Commission has
revealed. On April 5, $12,500 was donated to the Liberal Party. That was four
days before then-Environment Minister Melissa
Price
signed off on the groundwater management plans for Adani’s central
Queensland mine. Another $100,000 was donated to both Coalition parties in the
month after Ms Price gave final federal approvals to the mine24.

Former Resources
Minister Matt Canavan billed
taxpayers $5,390 for a private charter flight to travel 150km for the opening
of Byerwen coalmine, where he gave a speech attacking “hypocritical, self-indulgent”
environmental activists25.

Travel agent Helloworld
has strangely been given the contract for the federal government’s Coronavirus
Information Line. Co-owner and CEO of Helloworld, Andrew Burnes, is the Liberal Party’s federal treasurer, and a big
donor to the party. Helloworld recently stood down many of its staff to try to
survive the coronavirus economic impact26,27.

Three senior Liberal politicians – Peter Dutton, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews
– billed taxpayers thousands of dollars for an overnight trip to Sydney in late
2019, where they attended a lavish New South Wales Liberal Party farewell
knees-up for Tony Abbott after he lost his seat. The trio collectively billed
taxpayers more than $6000 for flights, cars and hotels for their whirlwind
visit before flying back to their home states the following day. A fourth Liberal politician, Australian Capital
Territory Senator Zed Seselja, also
took an overnight trip to Sydney on the day of the farewell dinner and claimed
more than $1200 in flights and government cars, but refused to even confirm he
attended the dinner28.

Tony Abbott was appointed to the board of the Australian War Memorial after he lost
his seat in the 2019 federal election, just as the position to which he was
appointed, received a $15,000 per annum pay increase29.

Sources

  1. http://www.blotreport.com/2020/03/08/corruption-galore/
  2. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-23/bradley-explained:-the-liberal-partys-parakeelia-rort/7535372
  3. https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/election-2016/2016/06/16/never-heard-parakeelia-now-election-issue/
  4. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/parakeelia-the-almost-perfect-liberal-party-scam,9106
  5. https://www.anao.gov.au/work/request/parakeelia-pty-ltd
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/10/six-grants-worth-a-total-of-260k-approved-in-marginal-seat-of-longman-before-election?CMP=share_btn_tw
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/10/gun-club-and-church-with-liberal-links-awarded-40000-in-federal-grants?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/09/mining-giant-given-millions-in-grant-by-coalition-from-fund-for-indigenous-disadvantage
  9. https://www.9news.com.au/national/election-eve-payment-hidden-from-scrutiny/67db0156-8bb1-493a-90fb-9f5478125e1e
  10. https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6326640/christopher-pyne-discussed-consulting-job-while-still-a-minister/
  11. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-27/christopher-pyne-called-out-for-taking-defence-job/11250526
  12. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/21/julie-bishops-job-with-palladium-caught-dfat-by-surprise
  13. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-14/sally-zou-mining-magnate-liberal-party-donor/9125672
  14. https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/julie-bishop-denies-all-connection-to-the-julie-bishop-glorious-foundation/
  15. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-26/mystery-mining-magnate-sally-zou/9088736
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/apr/18/former-liberal-president-shane-stone-to-be-paid-500000-as-flood-recovery-boss
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/feb/21/joyce-says-no-conflict-of-interest-between-inland-rail-and-properties
  18. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/03/arthur-sinodinos-tells-the-icac-he-cant-recall-donations-to-liberal-party
  19. https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2017/08/apo-nid100736-1088351.pdf
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jan/09/sussan-ley-used-taxpayer-money-for-gold-coast-events-with-multi-millionaire
  21. https://www.buzzfeed.com/markdistefano/brandis-gives-job-to-donor-lawyer
  22. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-08/brandis-not-aware-of-donation-from-brisbane-solicitor/7827906
  23. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/21/tony-abbotts-daughter-did-not-have-to-pay-for-60000-design-degree
  24. https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/adani-gave-200-000-to-coalition-weeks-after-securing-approvals-20200203-p53xak.html
  25. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/25/matt-canavan-billed-taxpayers-5390-for-charter-flight-to-attend-coalmine-opening?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
  26. https://www.travelweekly.com.au/article/helloworld-to-stand-down-65-per-cent-of-workforce-ceo-to-take-no-salary/
  27. https://twitter.com/RonniSalt/status/1249283772320641024
  28. https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2020/04/23/mps-charge-taxpayers-tony-abbott-farewell-dinner/
  29. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/11/tony-abbott-and-kerry-stokes-get-57-pay-rise-for-war-memorial-council-roles