Morrison Government corruption knows no bounds

Michael Pascoe has done a terrific job exposing the widespread corruption flowing through the Morrison Government’s veins:

There’s pork barrelling, then rorting, then corruption and bare-faced corruption, and now a new low: Inviting the public to rejoice in looting.

In just half a week, the Morrison government has managed to plumb two new lows.

Most obviously, there has been the idea that the government for one second could countenance a minister of the crown accepting a very large amount of money from unknown sources with no explanation.

Yet, as I write, a full day and more of Prime Ministerial silence has passed since Christian Porter disclosed the six-figure beneficence of anonymous actors with unknown motives via a blind trust.

Mr Porter apparently still has the money and his job.

The Morrison government – the one that has never been able to get around to introducing an integrity commission – remains mute.

But slipping by with much less attention has been another low in political spin, in declaring black to be white: Effectively a call to celebrate the most expensive administrative incompetence in our history – and that’s being kind about it…

The Treasurer and Treasury have been somewhat vague about whether they actually intended to omit any clawback provision in their JobKeeper legislation or were simply so incompetent as to overlook it.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and put it down to incompetence that they did not think to build in a safeguard to recover somewhere between $13 billion and $25 billion that they dished out to businesses that did not deserve it and did not need to keep it.

Clawback provisions are standard operating procedure for government payments subsequently found to be overpayments. Ask any Centrelink client.

But even when Treasury became aware it was in the middle of Australia’s biggest fiscal folly ever, Josh Frydenberg kept the vault wide open…

Not only would it not ask for the money back, it would protect the identity of the recipients…

The government has displayed the same thick hide and pattern of deny, dissemble and deflect that it has used to deal with its multibillion-dollar rorting of taxpayer funds for vote buying.

That attitude was on clearest display when the Finance Minister Simon Birmingham was challenged about #carporks and effectively said “too bad, we won the election, so go whistle”.

Bravo. I will not bang on about JobKeeper, since I have hammered the topic ad nauseum for weeks. But the Christian Porter affair deserves special mention.

Here we have the Minister for Science receiving up to $1 million from sources unknown via a “blind trust”, presumably to fund his legal fees in a defamation case against the ABC. But when questioned about it, Porter claimed he had “no access to information” on the trust’s funding or conduct.

This is a clear breach of the ministerial code of conduct, which states that ministers must “act at all times to the highest possible standards of probity”. Yet, when questioned yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison rebuffed a question about whether Porter would remain a cabinet minister, and instead promised to look into the matter.

This breach is so bad that former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed Porter’s conduct “flies in the face of every principle of accountability and transparency in public life”. Moreover, Turnbull said that he was “staggered that Porter thought he could get away with it and I will be even more staggered if the Prime Minister allows this to stand. It is so wrong. I’m astonished”.

In a similar vein, Stephen Charles QC, former judge of the Victorian Court of Appeal and a board member with the Centre for Public Integrity and the Accountability Round Table likened the payments to a bribe via money in a paper bag:

“The problem is the secrecy. We have political donation rules,” he told TND.

“You can’t give a large bag of money to a politician without expecting to be in trouble. If the people made their names public, there’d be no complaint.”

Mr Charles said if the same money had been anonymously gifted in a bag of cash, “there would be screaming”.

“That’s what happened here; all someone has done is intervene a blind trust and say it prevents their identity being known,” he said.

“Whoever did it in this way is trying to conceal the identity of the donors. They are people who potentially may want to say in future, ‘we’ve done this huge favour for Mr Porter or the party’.”

Michael Pascoe is right. Corruption is now so common and accepted that politicians don’t even be bothered trying to hide it.

Unconventional Economist

Comments

  1. My prediction is that Porter will resign from cabinet tonight after 6pm to miss the prime time news cycle. (Some time over summer, he’ll announce that he doesn’t intend to run again in the next election but he will keep the Blind Trust money). The government and their MSM stenographers in the mean time will continue to crow about submarines that won’t be built for a decade and 70% national first vax “milestones”.

    By the way, the fact that Lorraine Finlay’s appointment to the HRC has barely rated a mention anywhere in the league table of this government’s corruption, pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

    https://www.crikey.com.au/2021/09/06/new-human-rights-commissioner-perfect-credentials-lib-ipa-18c/

    • My prediction is that nothing will happen to Porter, and “blind trust” will legalize corruption from now on at every level of government. Every Australian developer from now on will put money into a ‘blind trust’ to have their DA application approved, every business that wants a government contract will also put money into a ‘blind trust’ along with their tender.

      • https://twitter.com/SerkanTheWriterSerkan Öztürk aka Steve Stönersön
        @SerkanTheWriter
        ·
        2h
        Normal
        3%
        BREAKING – We have positively identified the legal firm which has allowed “alleged rapist” politician Christian Porter to use their trust fund as a “blind trust” to pay his legal fees. The lawyer screamed at me on the phone just then.

        STORY UP LATER TODAY
        @TrueCrimeWeekly
        .

    • Shouldn’t he have to hand it back so long as he is in the MHR?

      If not, it sets a precedent that one can accrue money – from anyone, or anything – as long as it arrives via a blind trust.

      In my mind, this goes beyond his position as a minister.

      In other news, Sam Dastyari had to resign over what, $1000?

      But but but Labor.

      Trusting everyone can see the blindingly obvious. This mob needs to go on the endless rorts and corruption alone.

    • Yeah, I agree, Jason, it’s just possible Porter might actually walk this time. Look at this way, if Morrison (finally, at long last) wants him gone, Gaetjens may so find. If Morrison wants him to stay, Gaetjens may so find. Call it telepathy.

  2. C'est de la folieMEMBER

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    I would formally like to declare my intention of standing for parliament in the Senate for the next election as the Candidate for the Blind Trust Party of Australia….

    Give us your blind trust, for we have blind trust in all

    (And i would like to sear it into the flabby dimpled buttocks of every member of parliament with a white hot iron)

  3. As a side note, WTF is with a $1,000,000 legal bill in the first instance. We all know that layers (more so than bankers) have infected every level of politics but surely someone, somewhere needs to put an end outrageous (life destroying) fees being levied in order to navigate and litigate the legislation.

    • Top QC/SCs are $20k a day. And they will have a junior barrister plus solicitors to instruct them. It doesn’t take too long to rack up $1m.

  4. I think that by this point the only way out of this situation is for one of these unapologetically corrupt pollies to be kidnapped and then hung from the harbour bridge with “Corruption” written in large read letters over their body. Let’s see the media try and spin, obfuscate and ignore that one.*

    That’s what it’s basically come to.

    *Im in no way recommending, suggesting, contemplating or encouraging any such vile and illegal actions.

  5. If Porter is the blind trust beneficiary who are the trustees? I am assuming his legal counsel and it will be there intent to clean out every last cent from it. Doubt they will simply gift it to Porter.

    Regardless, the man and his party are objectively vulgar, corrupt and incompetent. Being voted out of existence should be the least of their issues.

  6. I have a suspicion that Morrison would have known about the ‘blind trust’ prior to it coming to light and is waiting to weigh up the fallout. If there is little to none from the MSM, Porter will stay.

    Morrison is way more corrupt than Trump – sneakier and more plausible.

  7. I’m not so sure. Other politicians have blind trusts so they can’t be influenced to benefit the underlying businesses’. In this case Porter doesn’t know the appointer/trustee/source of the funds and that ensures no benefit can be provided by him to them.

    There’s also the issue of protecting the privacy and reputation of the funders themselves. Given the pile on that has occurred and the underlying salaciousness of the accusations it does not seem unreasonable for people to distance themselves from the abuse likley to be hurled their way from unhinged aggressors on Twitter, within the Squad at the ABC or Guardianistas.

    More power to Porter and his backers. They have shown the correct and proper way to go about these things.

      • The course some commentators prefer worsens things. Presently Porter is naïve and thereby harmless. Awareness runs the risk of creating a sense of obligation and thereby encourages corruption to fester. More importantly, the funders must be protected from the torch and pitchfork mobs who terrorize public discourse. They have lent the hand of kindness to a broken man encircled by a pack of mad hyenas, and must not be punished for their good deeds.

        • Sorry, it’s been a long day; I see what you’re doing now: you’re being sarcastic.

          You didn’t answer my question on Albo, which alerted me to my oversight.

    • There is nothing wrong with politicians and their spouse putting their OWN ASSET into a blind trust. To have other people putting money into a blind trust, and then for the politician to access it, is just a fancier version of ‘cash in brown paper bag’.

    • To be fair, Ray Hadley on 2GB has been critical of Porter taking the money although not critical enough to have it reflect on ScuMo.

    • “Almost nothing in the Herald Sun. Just got to love Murdoch – this is the mechanism that allows corruption to flourish.”
      Indeed. It’s also why over 50 million Americans still think Trump won the election. Worrying….

      • The Traveling Wilbur 🙉🙈🙊

        That used to worry me.

        Until I realised there was *nothing* to be done about that issue, or the underlying problem that meant it would cause exactly the same sort of issue to manifest 25, 50 and 100 years from now.

        These are the same people that thought ‘carry fire with hands’ and relying on deities to freshen drinking water were a good idea.

        And it’s not a class thing either: see Sc1entoology.

        Well, nothing currently legal, anyway.

        • Yeah, you do have a point there in some ways TTW. From my POV though, much of this is only a big problem because there is a propaganda machine (ie:Fox/Sky) that gives the lies broad based support. Some of the worst tyrants in history have come to power in a democracy because of this.

          They say the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Too damn right I say.

          • The Traveling Wilbur 🙉🙈🙊

            You are right. But you are simply observing a question of scale.

            Imagine giving a village chieftan a megaphone.

  8. LOL.

    As we can see from MB, very few consider the most nakedly corrupt federal Government in decades to be an insignificant concern compared to the opportunity to get some new war toys and give the Chinese the finger from behind mummy’s skirts.