Tuesday 17th of July 2018

clowning glory .....

clowning glory .....


from Crikey …..

‘The federal government runs a worthy initiative called Family Business Australia – and it seems even members of the government’s own top echelons are getting into the spirit of its aim to “improve the effectiveness of Australian families in business”. Leading the way is Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, whose daughter has just joined the Downer family business, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This continues the lineage that started when Alexander Snr became High Commissioner to Britain.

As Crikey reports today, Georgina Downer has been employed by Dad’s department as a graduate trainee. This career move follows another Downer family initiative almost two years ago when Ms Downer was awarded a Chevening Scholarship by the British government. At the time, Crikey was severely rebuked by the Minister for publishing that story and implying he had attempted to exert influence to secure his daughter’s scholarship (we then had hard evidence of the Minister’s role, even though we were – and still are – unable to publish it to protect our sources).

Alexander Downer will undoubtedly be positioned to say, again, that he did not personally influence his daughter’s appointment. And Crikey will again probably be accused by the Minister of invading his daughter’s privacy, something we regret having to do.

But when one of the government’s most senior ministers – a man who spends much of his time lecturing others on how to behave – allows one of his family to be employed by his own department, there’s a stench of many flavours in the air: nepotism, hubris, improper behaviour and the whiff of a long-serving government which seems to believe itself bulletproof from normal conventions.

Jane Nethercote writes:

The daughter of Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is now working for him. Last Thursday, this notice appeared in the Public Service Gazette:

Foreign Affairs and Trade

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


Graduate Trainee $44969 – 48581 (PS08, 2 March 2006)

Georgina Mary Beatrice Downer: 796-15410, section 22(2)a, 12 February 2007

Georgina Downer is one of the 20-30 graduate trainees recruited by DFAT each year.

Her appointment follows another episode involving the Minister and his daughter. In August 2005, Crikey reported that Ms Downer had taken up one of the British government's Chevening Scholarships to study at the London School of Economics.

According to the Chevening website, scholarships are for Australian citizens who "have a strong undergraduate degree (emphasis is placed on applications with First or Second Class Honours)". Georgina Downer received a third class honours degree from the University of Melbourne.

At the time, we asked:

Does an Australian foreign minister have a conflict of interest if a close member of his family is awarded a prestigious scholarship by a country that uses such scholarships to "contribute to the maintenance of a strong relationship between the countries"?

Should close family members of senior politicians exclude themselves from certain opportunities because of the public perception that could be created if they don't? ...

And how should 330-odd unsuccessful candidates for the same scholarship feel when they find out that one of the handful of successful candidates is the daughter of the Australian foreign minister? ...

(For a history of Crikey's examination of the issues, click here and here).

The latest announcement raises a fresh batch of questions. Does an Australian foreign minister have a conflict of interest if a close member of his family is awarded a graduate trainee position in the department he runs? Can a recruitment process involving the boss's daughter ever be fair? And even if it manages procedural fairness, can it ever be perceived as fair and just?

This morning, Crikey left a message on Ms Downer's voicemail at DFAT. She hadn't returned our call when we went to press.


Yesterday, Crikey revealed that the daughter of Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is now working at DFAT as a graduate trainee. Here's what the Prime Minister's 1998 code of conduct, A Guide on Key Elements of Ministerial Responsibility, has to say about the appointment of relatives.

* Ministers should not exercise the influence obtained from their public office, or use official information, to gain any improper benefit for themselves or another.

* Particular attention needs to be paid to ensuring that the scope for adverse comment is minimised if it is proposed to appoint someone who is the close relative or associate of a minister.

* Subject to provisions in legislation or other formal documents relating to the establishment of government bodies or positions, government appointments are to be made on the basis of merit, taking into account the skills, qualifications, experience and any special qualities required of the person to be appointed.

* If the approving authority (which may be Cabinet or a minister) is satisfied that this condition is demonstrably met, then spouses, parents, children or other close relatives of ministers, parliamentarians, ministerial staff or heads of departments or agencies should not be discriminated against in selection processes on account of family relationships.

* There is a longstanding practice that ministers do not appoint close relatives to positions in their own offices. In addition, close relatives of a minister should not be appointed to any other minister’s office irrespective of the level of the position, except with the specific approval of the Prime Minister. And a minister’s close relative should not be appointed to any position in an agency in that minister’s own portfolio if the appointment is subject to the agreement of the minister or Cabinet.

* Appointment proposals should identify the elements of merit, skills, qualifications, experience and special qualities on which they are based.


obviously, our PM lost the plot

Gus: obviously, our Minister for aliens stuff and cargo cult has tough competition, with the PM who's loosing the plot completely: Beware of PM bearing comparisons.


From the multicultural ABC

Terrorism comparison angers Greek community

A South Australian Labor MP says Prime Minister John Howard's comparison of terrorism in Iraq to Greece have outraged the Greek-Australian community.

Mr Howard last week described terrorist attacks in democratic countries as common and used Greece as an example.

South Australian MP Steve Georganas says it is outrageous to compare Greece with Iraq, where about 3,000 people are killed each month.

Mr Georganas says Mr Howard is risking the relationship between the two countries.

"What John Howard has done is to try and show that there's been some sort of movement in Iraq," he said.

"He's trying to compare it to peaceful nations that are having peaceful times, which is totally outrageous and unacceptable and it shows that he has no understanding of international affairs and diplomacy."

a downer slowly pushed up the ranks...

Former premier weighs-in on battle for Robb's seat

Meanwhile, former Liberal premier of Victoria Jeff Kennett has backed the daughter of former foreign minister Alexander Downer in the Melbourne seat being vacated by retiring Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

Georgina Downer, a former lawyer and diplomat, is expected to nominate for the safe Melbourne seat of Goldstein.

Her father and grandfather were federal ministers and her great-grandfather was premier of South Australia.

Mr Kennett said he had come to know Ms Downer as a fellow board member, and his support was not due to the Downer dynasty.

"It's got nothing to do with that whatsoever," Mr Kennett told ABC Radio's AM program.

"She's very focused, she's very well educated, I think she would be a valuable addition to our parliamentary ranks."



It is important to see toon and story at top...

more crap from the downunder downers...

The devolution of the Downer family. 

One thing that most Australians agree on, left and right, is that the attempt by the Howard government to steal newly-formed nation East Timor’s oil and gas, was one of the most shameful episodes in our history. Foreign minister Alexander Downer played the lead in that, and it’s about all he’ll ever be remembered for. Now here’s someone in The Australian, arguing that the East Timorese don’t really need all that grubby oil; tourism is their future. The author of this manifesto? Georgina Downer, the Downer daughter, fourth generation politico, think tank blowfly, and failed preselection candidate for Goldstein, doing her bit to restore Daddy’s reputation against the oily oiks. In the UK they have Scottish and Welsh parliaments. We have political devolution here too: it’s the Downer family, getting less welcome with each passing era. — Guy Rundle

Gus: read more at Crikey. Read from top... Georgina is a nepotism-resultant tart who writes crap.