Tuesday 13th of April 2021

well-guarded...

guarded
The Morrison method – if you don’t ask, you can’t tell

 


By JACK WATERFORD | On 24 February 2021

 

Some prime ministers are more practised liars than others. Some can confuse, distract and prevaricate in such a way as to strangle the truth. Morrison, however, is a special case. He does not seem to recognise any obligation to account. He resists any scrutiny and while using words such as “transparency” almost everything he does is opaque.

About 20 years ago, the phrase “plausible deniability” was in vogue, in part because John Howard denied any knowledge of the fact that boat children at sea had not been thrown overboard. A Senate inquiry dragged from a number of officials, including a then deputy secretary of the prime minister’s department, Jane Halton, admissions that they had come to learn that the children overboard story was a furphy.

They said they had told ministerial officers, including senior minders in the Prime Minister’s Office.  None of these, apparently, had thought this something important enough to bring to the prime minister’s attention, although he (and his defence minister) were continuing to make statements alleging that refugees had thrown their children overboard so as to force a rescue by the Australian Navy.  The prime minister refused to give evidence or to  allow any member of his staff, past or present, to appear before the committee.

In 1983, Malcolm Fraser called an election. The Labor Opposition, under Bob Hawke, alleged that Budget projections had slipped badly, and that economy was in far worse shape than Fraser and his Treasurer, John Howard were pretending.  They were right. John Stone, then Treasury Secretary, realised that the government would be likely to blame Treasury, rather than decisions of ministers, if the facts emerged before the election, or if, afterwards, the incoming government “discovered” a “black hole”. Adroitly he produced and sprung upon Howard  written advice telling him of the budget blow-out, and its likely dimensions.

Howard was in a bind. He had his own suspicions about a blow-out, but as long as he did not officially know, he could blandly deny it. Stone deprived him of an alibi. He did not want to lie. For the last week of the campaign, he had “reduced visibility” lest someone ambush him and ask him directly about the state of the budget.

Someone had told Howard the truth, in a way he could not deny. It was as if he then  decided that no one should ever be seen to tell him the truth again. This was why he worked through the PMO, mostly with oral briefings. There are many records of what went into the PMO. But very few which recorded what the staff chose to tell him. He was, of course, very interested in detail, as Morrison is. But his fingerprints could rarely be found. On occasion indeed, some minders took the fall by accepting personal responsibility for matters that had almost certainly engaged the attention of Howard.

Successive governments have tried to follow the Howard system, if in ways adapted to the character of the prime minister, and, in several cases, such as Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, the personality of their chiefs of staff. But deniability is the key.  Some prime ministers are more practised liars than others. Others can confuse, mislead, distract and prevaricate in such a way that the truth is strangled. Morrison, however, is a special case. It’s because he does not seem to recognise any obligation to account. He uses words such as “transparency”, but almost everything he does is opaque. He resists any scrutiny — even more does he resist the imposition of systems by which a review reveals how and why money was spent.

With floods, and bushfires, and  vaccines, he blandly announces that he has allocated $X  billion to this relief project or that, but no actual fund is created, and it is almost impossible to track the spending that has occurred. With his latest wheeze, the giving out of tens of billion to private enterprise with only minimal accounting requirements, and hardly any protections against fraud, Australia has got fairly close to arbitrary government. Most often we cannot know if there is corruption — even though there are strong grounds to suspect it — because of the looseness of arrangements, the close personal involvement of ministers making decisions on frankly political grounds, and the open derision for financial conventions, many of which are constitutional. The weakest High Court in many decades sits alongside regulators and watchdogs stripped of resources, with leaders sometimes seeming to be chosen for timorousness.

Many politicians dismiss concerns saying, in effect, that the public does not care. I do not believe that, but I do think that we need better methods of informing the population about how they are being ripped off. If there to be a clear sign that citizens care and that they will kick back, it might well be from a general dismay about the ill-treatment and abuse of a young staffer, first at the hands of an individual minder, and, later, by the institution of government itself.

 

 

Read more:

https://johnmenadue.com/if-you-dont-ask-you-cant-tell/

 

Cartoon at top by Glen Le Lievre, Sun-Herald, 2014 (how times flies and how Scomo is still spreading the shit)...

keeping us in the dark...

dark

 

Cartoon by David Pope, The Canberra Times, 2014... (how times flies and how Scomo is still spreading the shit)...

shitting gold bricks...

The cabinet minister at the centre of a historical rape allegation “absolutely rejects” the claims, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The PM said on Monday he knew nothing of the rumours about the man until receiving an anonymous letter last week.

Mr Morrison rebuffed suggestions he should stand down the man at the centre of the claims, saying he won’t move on “the mere making of an allegation”.

However, it is unclear in what form any police investigation could proceed.

Mr Morrison and several other members of Parliament received an anonymous letter and 31-page dossier last week, with graphic claims of a brutal alleged rape in Sydney in 1988.

The alleged victim, who was just 16 at the time, told friends and family of her claims over several years.

Labor senator Penny Wong, who received one of the letters, said the woman had told her in 2019.

That woman died by suicide in June 2020.

Mr Morrison has been under intense pressure to act on the allegations, with several politicians calling for the minister to be stood down pending an investigation.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has called it a “test” for the government.

Speaking for the first time since the report broke on Friday, Mr Morrison said on Monday he had spoken to the man, who “absolutely rejects” the claims.

“The individual involved here has vigorously rejected these allegations. And so, it’s a matter for the police,” Mr Morrison said at a press conference in Sydney, to release the report of the royal commission into aged care.

The PM said he had not read the letter and had been only briefed on its contents. He referred the allegations to Australian Federal Police commissioner Reece Kershaw.

“In my discussions with the commissioner, there was nothing immediate that he considered that was necessary for me to take any action on,” Mr Morrison said.

With the woman’s death, it is extremely unlikely a rape investigation could proceed.

NSW Police told The New Daily that its “investigation was suspended” after the woman died, but that South Australia Police are preparing a report to the Coroner on her death.

 

Read more:

https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2021/03/01/scott-morrison-cabinet-minister-rape/

 

Read also:

 

don't expect the miracle of truth from the sick scomo government — the kanbra brothel...

 

 

Somehow, we know that the Scomo and his fucking ministers have no moral fibre, far less than a wet cardboard box for morning cereals. The "culprit" hides behind the Evangelical Scomo who has always been a fudger of facts, especially in relation to climate change, gas and coal, environmental matters, boats to be stopped, old people's homes, Chinadom and everything that moves or not. He will deny that the sky is blue on a sunny day because it's not politically advantageous, but most of all, he says things that say nothing.

 

We, the plebs, the moronic mushrooms of middle-ages society, cannot accept a categorically "absolutely rejects" from Scomo, as we know his ministers regularly fudge reality for political theatre. We need to hear the denial from the horse's mouth, not from his stable poop collector... And on the sweepstake, XXXX has overtaken YYYY by a small margin. 

 

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And should you have time left on this lovely morning, with a coffee in hand :

 

Julie Bishop’s travels along the Gold Brick Road. Part 2

 


By WILLIAM DE MARIA | On 1 March 2021

In this second of a three-part examination of the employment of former senior Coalition ministers, we investigate former Foreign Minister Julie (“Duchess”) Bishop’s post-politics employment with the international aid group Palladium. 

All three situations reveal common ground. The blatant opportunism displayed by the actors involved (the ex-ministers and their new corporate paymasters) stands out like the proverbial. Second, the luscious cash contracts would not be possible without a seriously weakened public sector.

Almost 40 years ago another virus, with the over-glamorised name “neo-liberalism”, hit Australia and it debilitated the old Keynesian coda that governments have a moral responsibility to directly intervene to secure our social and economic welfare. It all started in March 1983 when the Hawke-Keating power duo did a jiujitsu move on Whitlamesque socialism and started hacking at the public service, using the destructive tools of corporatisation, privatisation, public-private partnerships, and contracting out. Government decisions taken since that time to retract or abandon a public service have been met with the private sector lifting its nose and smelling profit.

That is how Palladium came about and that’s how ex-minister Bishop got her lucrative contract with them.

Julie Bishop’s political career ran from her election in 1998 for the Perth seat of Curtin to her sudden resignation from politics on 26 August 2018. Bishop always had prime ministerial ambitions, not shared by many of her dry colleagues. These aspirations were tested on the blood-soaked floor of the Liberal Party Room when Turnbull hating right wing conspirators engineered a spill. The “Duchess” threw her crown into the ring and was knocked out in the first ballot.

Two and a half months before she resigned following the ballot defeat, Bishop was approached by Kim Bredhauer, the executive chairman of Palladium, with an invitation to join the board as a non-executive director. Palladium is a for-profit commercial aid consultancy with an international reach.

Palladium had extensive dealings with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade  during the time Bishop was minister. It benefitted from her decision to recalibrate Australia’s aid program to increase the role of the private sector. Austender searches reveal that during the time Bishop was Foreign Minister, Palladium and their associated companies received more than $600 million in DFAT contracts. While she was Foreign Minister, the “Duchess” also appeared in a promotional video for one of Palladium’s programs funded by DFAT which was shared on their Facebook site. Before she left the Foreign Ministry, Bishop and Palladium were grooming each other for future prospects.

Bredhauer said at the time of approaching Bishop:

We’ve long admired her work as a minister toward revolutionising the sector, and we’re delighted to be her first private sector directorship. Her commitment to tapping into private sector expertise mirrors our own, as we develop new and innovative ways to tackle problems of social and economic inequality. (emphasis added).

I wonder what “revolutionary” work Bredhauer was referring to? Was it Bishop’s abolition of the internationally respected Australian foreign aid agency, AusAID? Or was it the extensive expenditure cuts to the foreign aid budget that she engineered? On his first day in office, 18 September 2013, Tony Abbott announced, with barely repressed glee, that the foreign aid budget was to be scissored. He handed the sharp instrument to Bishop. She exceeded expectations. She presided over an aid budget that, having peaked in 2013, has been falling ever since to our international shame. At its peak, the aid budget was equivalent to $247 per Australian (2020-21 prices). In 2020-21 we only spent $164 per Australian on foreign aid. The must be what Bradhauer calls “revolutionary”.

The “Duchess” also redesigned the field, giving greater opportunities for her beloved private sector to feast on government contracts and partnerships.

“Working with Palladium is a continuation of my long-standing interest in [private] economic development. Palladium has a focus on private sector engagement to deliver effective, sustainable development and I hope to provide further support to the company’s efforts,” says Bishop, singing ever so sweetly from the neo-liberal songbook.

The Palladium board confirmed Bishop’s appointment on 28 June 2019, well outside the 18 months no-contact zone laid out in the Standard. Following concerns raised in public and in Parliament about Bishops appointment, the Prime Minister asked his Departmental Secretary, the well-regarded Dr Michael Parkinson, to advise him as to whether Julie Bishop had contravened his Ministerial Standard on post-politics employment for ex-ministers.

This was one of Parkinson’s last jobs before he retired. It shows in his tardy report. Parkinson interviewed Bishop but not Palladium. In explaining his role Parkinson said:

“What am I meant to do? Am I meant to assume that any member of this chamber or the other chamber is going to lie to me?”

Well, wouldn’t that have been a better cause of action? He might have got to the truth that way.

He reported back to Scotty “…there are no specific actions that can be taken by you [the Prime Minister] in relation to former Ministers once they have left the Parliament”. What he meant to say was that the Prime Minister’s Standard was just a container of air. Bishop can do whatever she wants short of stealing Cabinet papers and handing them over to the Palladium Board.

Parkinson told Morrison: “Ms Bishop’s knowledge about Australian government policies regarding aid and development, and her contacts with international leaders, will be utilised by and benefit, Palladium”.

Of course it will but that activity is clearly in breach of the Ministerial Standard. Clause 2.25 prohibits former ministers from taking advantage of information to which they have had access as a Minister where that information is not generally available to the public.

Ex-ministers who abuse public office for private ends should expect to find themselves facing consequences under the law. Problem is, who is going to take this issue seriously and write it into law?

 

Read more:

https://johnmenadue.com/julie-bishops-travels-along-the-gold-brick-road-part-2/

as a father of two whatevers...

Australian of the Year Grace Tame has spoken out against Prime Minister Scott Morrison's use of the phrase "as a father" over his initial response to rape allegations made by a former Liberal staffer.

The Tasmanian sexual abuse survivor and advocate was asked about Mr Morrison's comments at the National Press Club today.

"It shouldn't take having children to have a conscience," she said.

"And, actually, on top of that, having children doesn't guarantee a conscience."

Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleges she was sexually assaulted by a senior male colleague in a minister's office in 2019.

Mr Morrison said after he watched Ms Higgins' interview, his wife Jenny urged him to think about it as a father of two daughters.

In her Press Club address, Ms Tame described in detail how she was groomed and raped by her 58-year-old teacher at a private girls' school in Hobart when she was 15 years old.

She said she had cried several times while writing her speech.

"I may be strong, yes, but I am human just like everyone else," she said.

 

Read more:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-03/grace-tame-press-club-rape-allegations-morrison-response/13210112

 

 

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