FEDERAL ELECTION: With Australians heading to the polls in 10 days time, True Crime News Weekly has compiled a near definitive list of all the sins, scandals and potential corruption that has oozed out of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s LNP government since the Coalition gained power under Tony Abbott all the way back in 2013.
As six years of perhaps the most incompetent federal government ever comes to a hopeful close on May 18, Melanie Coutts takes a longing gaze at all the scandalous details that will leave you shaking your head for decades to come.
THE MR BIGS
Parakeelia – a software designed toPmonitor elections – was set up by the Liberal party. They charged MPs $2,500 per subscription and claimed it as an expense. Scott Morrison was the treasurer at the time when he referred to the inquiry into the matters as a “witch-hunt”. Labor’s Bill Shorten likened the scheme to a money laundering operation: “This looks like a Liberal Party washing machine turning taxpayer dollars into Liberal party profits”.
During his Queensland campaign, Scott charged tax payers for a VIP plane and hotel costs while the campaign bus travelled to appear as though he was on a road trip. Previously referring to the need to have a federal anti-corruption watchdog as a “fringe issue”, Morrison announced a watered-down version of the proposed Federal ICAC starring controversial former NSW prosecutor, Margaret Cuneen, who is now publicly supporting the Liberal Party and the re-election campaign of Tony Abbott.
When Save the Children staff released details of human rights abuses towards children in detention, Scott Morrison falsely claimed that the staff had coached them. He also lied repeatedly on immigration intake.
In spite of the Medivac bill introduced by the crossbench and Labor, he spent $185 million to reopen Christmas Island even though there were no adequate medical facilities to treat refugees. 140 Serco staff were paid to man an empty detention centre.
Scott had caused delays with trade deals after announcing the controversial move of the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In another flop announcement, he was going to spend up to $12 million on a voyage circumnavigating Australia to replicate Captain Cook’s journey. Because Captain Cook didn’t circumnavigate Australia, the hashtag #ThingsCookDid went viral.
The Minister for Home Affairs awarded Paladin $423 million in a closed tender process to manage services at the detention centre on Manus Island. Until the sketchiness of the company came to media attention, Paladin was headquartered at a beach shack on Kangaroo island. One of Paladins local directors was charged with 106 counts of fraud and money laundering charges.
Dutton also awarded $44 million to JDA Wokman on the December 4, 2017. Amnesty International reported that the company acted as a recruitment firm skimming 15% of the salaries from refugees. NKW Holdings was awarded $82 million in September 2017. The contract was signed in September 2018. The company is on Bank South Pacifics watchlist for unpaid debts. The auditor general is currently taking this matter into consideration. In a previous audit on Dutton’s department, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) found $1.1 billion was spent without proper authorization. Despite the Medivac legislation’s success and cheaper alternative, Dutton falsely claimed that refugees would take hospital beds. His department then prepared Christmas Island for refugees to be sent without adequate medical facilities.
Last year it came to light that Peter Dutton had personally intervened in granting visitor visas for well connected au pairs along with other cases. Nauroze Anees blew the whistle from inside an onshore detention centre alleging William Betham had paid $80,000 to Peter Dutton for his release. Court records corroborate that he was released despite serious drug trafficking charges that pales against others still languishing in detention centres. Subsequent to the public release of these allegations, Nauroze was threatened with deportation.
Dutton’s wife’s childcare business has been receiving grants from the government. Legal experts believe that this may contravene Section 44(v) of the Constitution. Dutton became an investor while he was in the Queensland Police force, and is said to have amassing a multi-million dollar portfolio between 1992 and 2006.
Under the Abbott government, Australia dropped 6 positions on the corruption perceptions index.
In breach of parliamentary rules, Tony waited two years before declaring a $710,000 mortgage on the pecuniary interest register. He also failed to declare a $60,000 scholarship granted to his daughter by a school with a Liberal donor who is a chairman of the board of governors. Tony’s daughter broke a tenancy lease after the AFP checked the property and concluded that it wasn’t safe. She refused to compensate the landlord who was in remission from cancer and in default on her mortgage. Abbott also received a Rolex watch from Chinese billionaire Li Ruipeng and claimed he believed it was a fake.
To no significant findings, and generally a large waste of everybody’s time, Tony initiated a royal commission into trade union governance and corruption.
Known for his love of boxing, Abbott has quite a history of inappropriate behaviour towards women including the physical threat of violence. Upon the news of the death of an Australian soldier he stated, “It’s pretty obvious that, well, sometimes shit happens, doesn’t it?”
Just a few months ago, Tony continued to show how much he cares for the downtrodden and the victims of powerful people, by calling his “good friend” Cardinal George Pell soon after the evil paedophile had been found guilty of raping two choirboys.
“There is no umpire in the political debate. There’s no rule book. What you get away with wins.” Barnaby Joyce
Instigator of the, ‘Bonk Ban’, Barnaby Joyce’s affair with staffer Vicki Campion and subsequent birth of Sebastian in April 2018 camouflaged a breach of Ministerial standards. Standard 2.23 clearly states that partners cannot be appointed to positions in Ministerial or electorate offices in theirs or of other members. Despite denials of the breach at the time claiming that they weren’t together, travel entitlement work claims of both Vicki and Barnaby match around the date of conception. Sexual harassment allegations were raised against Barnaby last year. While the investigation was finalized, no determination on the complaint was made.
When Barnaby Joyce was ineligible to sit, he continued to claim work expenses. On March 29, 2018, all debts from the citizenship test were waived by Mathias Cormann including his expenses. He also failed to declare property he owned when the proposal for a railway line was introduced. The proximity of the railway line route suggested an increase in value.
Barnaby Joyce wrote to mining heiress Gina Rinehart, the creator of National Agriculture Day, confirming that he lobbied Turnbull for the funding. After his department donated $60,000 for National Agriculture Day, Barnaby Joyce received a $40,000 award from Mrs Rinehart. He was going to spend it on his property, but public scrutiny forced him to hand the cheque back.
Blamed by many for running a river dry, Barnaby oversaw the purchase of overland flow water from Eastern Australia Agriculture – a company previously founded and directed by Energy Minister Angus Taylor – for nearly $80 million. Eastern Australia Agriculture is also a Liberal Party donor. The growing scandal has widely become known as #Watergate.
There are also questionable circumstances surrounding the fire at the Armidale club that Barnaby Joyce was intending to use for the relocation of Australian Pesticides and Medical Veterinary Authority (APVMA). Greg Maguire, a beneficiary of the relocation project provided rent free accommodation to Barnaby and his girlfriend for six months. APVMA spent $14,700 to wine and dine at Greg Maguire’s hotel.
Known as the, ‘Member for Manila’ for spending more time in the Philippines than in Parliament. His frequenting of areas known for the prostitution of minors raised concerns triggering the AFP to approach him. Although the AFP did not find enough evidence to proceed with an investigation, it was reported that George refused to hand over encrypted messages.
He has recently referred himself to the IPEA to make a finding as to whether his travel claims for connecting flights from the Philippines for $3,042 are valid.
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Last year, George was reported to the police for posting a photo of himself holding a gun stating, “You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?” on his Facebook page. Although he deleted the post, he refused to apologise claiming it was a joke. Subsequent to his post, Sarah Hanson Young received a death threat from his supporter.
Josh Frydenberg’s office awarded the Great Barrier Reef Foundation $443 million without an open tender or proper application. The National audit office noted that there was no evidence that his office considered other organisations. Two months after awarding the money, one of the GBRF board members was forced to resign after charges involving a criminal cartel. Another board member had to resign due to serious conflict of interests. The board of members along with the chairman’s panel were either formally or currently employed by major fossil fuel companies and donors to the Liberal party. His department also allowed convicted criminal Martin Guth to export hundreds of rare and endangered birds to be sold to wealthy collectors under the guise of operating a sham zoo. The department ignored warnings about the opaque activities of the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP).
In June last year, Mathias booked private military charter to gain the support of crossbench for company tax cuts. The travel accumulated to $37,000 within a 24-hour period. Earlier that year, he booked flights to Singapore with the CEO of Helloworld for a family holiday that provided upgrades without charge. The CEO of Helloworld – who is also te Liberal Party’s federal treasurer – was awarded a contract last year to provide travel management for up to 43 government agencies.
Between 2016 and 2017, Matthias charged taxpayers $29,532 to stay 109 nights at his own residential property. He also claimed $23,000 in travel entitlements for weekend holidays with his wife in 2016 and just last year he accumulated a family travel bill of $17,437.25 in a three month period.
As the Minister of Resources, his department approved the Rolleston mine to stay open beyond 2040. The mine is now owned by Winfield energy group, a company set up by his younger brother John Canavan. Matt has declared John has loaned him money for the purposes of legal fees on two occasions. Matt claimed $23,148 in travel entitlements to reside in his investment property between 2016 and 2017 only to declare ownership on the pecuniary interest register in 2018. When students walked out of class for a climate change protest he retorted, “The best thing you’ll learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole queue.”
The former Human Services Minister knew all about cheating when he said, “There remains a small slice of the community who still think it is OK to cheat the system and take more than they are entitled to”.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t prosecuted or sent to prison. He was forced to pay back a $38,000 internet bill he originally charged taxpayers 20 times the average cost. He also charged taxpayers $1,600 for a trip to a Townsville mine he had a financial interest in. He only repaid the money when the matter came to light.
While the Minister for Defence, he travelled to China on leave and misused his position to seal a mining deal with the Chinese Government for a company he is a shareholder of. It was reported that he took his official phone provided by defence with him. He also held a dinner at parliament house where Chinese billionaire Li Ruipeng gifted him a Rolex watch. Stuart claimed that he didn’t declare it because he thought it was a fake. He then claimed that he had returned the watch. His member’s interest declaration still lists a watch.
In an attempt to avoid Section 44(v) scrutiny, he listed his parents as directors of an IT company that was awarded millions in government contracts including his department.
Stuart also ran a “non-political” seniors expo that required exhibitors to funnel $300,000 of fees into the Liberal National Party’s account. In the Queensland Crime and Conduct commission inquiry into local councillors, it was revealed that Stuart bankrolled two candidates’ campaigns through his fundraiser account a local property developer contributed to. One of those candidates who also worked for him ‘forgot’ where the money came from. Stuart was later found using large portions of the property developers briefing note in a parliamentary speech referred as, “Cash for comment”.
Instead of calling for a GST exemption on women’s hygiene products, he advocated for billionaires to receive an exemption on super yachts after receiving tickets to a boat show.
As Minister of Health he was behind the disastrous , ‘opt out’ rule for online health records forcing users unable to opt out of the service said by many experts to be vulnerable to misuse. Greg charged taxpayers over $20,000 for family holiday costs. After his resignation in August last year, he ran for deputy leader and lost. He has since racked up a travel bill of $23,407.59 within three months.
A week after relaxing media ownership laws, Mitch was rewarded with a pair of cufflinks from Foxtel. This was months after he provided Foxtel with a $30 million grant to, ‘support the broadcast of underrepresented sports on subscription television, including women’s sports, niche sports, and sports with a high level of community involvement and participation’. It was alleged by Bill Shorten that Mitch Fifield referred the NBN leaks to the AFP that led them to raid Labor offices. Last year Mitch cut ABCs funding by $84 million over three years. The ABC was forced to retract a report on budget cuts.
David Littleproud, the Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water resources is related by marriage to John Norman who was charged for defrauding the government of more than $20 million. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), a responsibility of David’s department was recently found by the royal commission to have, “committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in drawing up the multi-billion-dollar deal to save Australia’s largest river system”.
David Littleproud rejected claims that the authority acted illegally and suggested that the commission was biased. Corruption within his department was omitted in a report he commissioned on live exports. He claimed that this was to protect the anonymity of witnesses. David notably spent $168,000 within three months on parliamentary expenses.
Craig suggested on Sky News that we ignore involvement in MH17 tragedy for better relations with Russia. Allegations were raised in court that Craig traded while he was insolvent. Craig was initially referred to the privileges committee for failing to declare his directorship of several companies. He denied that he failed to declare citing his accountant’s illness. The committee did not pursue this any further. On his Facebook page, he supported Andrew Bolt’s comments claiming that George Pell’s conviction was a, “grave miscarriage of justice”.
When asked about the prosecution of ‘Witness K’ who blew the whistle on an ASIS operation spying on the East Timor government to gain financial advantage, Porter avoided answering questions claiming: “As the matter is now before the court it would not be appropriate to comment further”. Senator Rex Patrick accused Porter of breaching his requirements to answer the senate.
It’s not the first time he has used national security as a reason to suppress for other purposes. He also redacted part of an audit report on the cost comparison of military vehicles.
Recently, Porter appointed former Liberal politician Joe Francis as a member of the Administrative and Appeals Tribunal to work in almost every division except small business taxation. Prior to this appointment Joe Francis supplied Porter three campaign buses.
As the former Social Services Minister, he missed the Royal Commission into Child abuse hearing to watch cricket. When informed of issues in the rollout of Robo-debt, he failed to pause the program that was associated with a high number of deaths. His crusade to stop rorting obviously didn’t apply to him when he claimed $26,771 to stay in his own property for 93 nights.
If there ever was a Robin hood for the wealthy, Alan Tudge’s career would be the perfect tale. Referring to the debunked myth of generational welfare, he teamed up with Twiggy Forrest on the cashless welfare card venture that returned a profit of $5.1 million in the last financial year. Despite owning an apartment in Canberra, he claimed $27,192 for 97 nights.
Boasting that he could claw back $1.9 billion in welfare fraud, he supported the automated debt recovery system that required the most vulnerable to provide proof that they weren’t overpaid by Centrelink in the past. Despite knowing that there were a large number of errors, he continued to promote and defend the program.
Over 2,000 deaths were reported subsequent to the issue of these debts. Although no cause of deaths was recorded, a high number are believed to be suicide. After the Saturday Paper published a story on a debt related suicide, Alan Tudge approved the release of the personal records of the victim in a bid to bolster the departments side. When welfare recipient, Andie Fox, highlighted the failure of Robo-debt, the ever-caring Tudge approved the release of her Centrelink records to Canberra Times journalist, Paul Malone.
THE ROLE PLAYERS
Michaelia Cash claimed $38,040 to stay 138 nights on her property. Regardless of being required to notify the pecuniary interests register within 35 days, she took months to list a 1.4 million dollar property and mortgage. Even though she promised to release a report on the death connected to the Work for the Dole program, no such report has been released to date.
Cash referred donations from the Australian Workers union to GetUp to the Registered Organisations Commission which led to the AFP raids on the offices. Prior to the raids, it was revealed that the media was tipped by Michaela’s office. It was said at court in February that Michaelia Cash had a keen political interest in the Australian Workers Union prior to the raid. As well as charging tax payers for the legal costs of the AWU trial, the legal bill for Nigel Hadgkiss was also covered by taxpayers. Michaelia knew that Hadgkiss was in breach of the Fair work act since 2016.
The former Human Rights Commissioner who supported the watering down of the Racial Discrimination Act, and like the good IPA lapdog he is has called for the Human Rights Commission to be abolished.
Tim Wilson is a shareholder of Wilson Asset Management founded and chaired by his relative Geoff Wilson. Geoff requested that Tim schedule the franking credit hearings at the same time the company ran a, ‘Franking Credit Roadshow’. Tim authorised and promoted the company website using a commonwealth seal.
Tim also charged taxpayers $5,130 to stay at his own property for 18 nights.
“He is a cancer on the Liberal Party of NSW” – Alan Jones, 2GB
This Special Minister of State charged taxpayers half a million dollars in printing fees using a company run by the Liberal Party Bella Vista branch manager that doesn’t own a commercial printer. It is therefore no wonder he recently had a hand in altering regulation to allow taxpayers to foot the bill in election advertising.
A political chameleon, he abandoned the right wing faction in 2009 when it would have reduced his chances. Despite being a part of the moderates, he recently supported expelling gay students in a bid to appeal to his conservative electorate.
Although he hasn’t been convicted for committed war crimes, he is commonly known as, ‘The butcher of Fallujah’ for his involvement in Iraq. Between 2004 and 2005, he served as the Chief of Operations; the highest-ranking officer in Iraq.
He oversaw planning the operation that initially trapped up to 50,000 civilians. Under his direction humanitarian aid, electricity and water were cut as they began to bomb the city.
On November 7, 2004 the only hospital was seized while two clinics were bombed. Ambulances were fired at along with women and children.
The Yuhu group – the same Chinese government operated company that forced Sam Dastyari to resign – paid a $20,000 annual subscription to the Liberal party in Bennelong and worked closely with John on his by -election campaign. The company owns a shopping mall in Bennelong and submitted a development application to expand around the time of the donations. Last year during the leadership spill, he charged taxpayers travel to stay in his mansion. He stated that the IPEA had checked the claim prior to submission. The former tennis champ has had to apologise for cracking ‘jokes’ about rape and racism.
The former Vice president of Crossroads Resources and a shareholder of numerous mining and exploration companies is the Minister for Environment. It’s therefore no wonder she claimed climate scientists at the UNs Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were “drawing a long bow” in requesting an end to coal. Accused of misleading the house, Melissa was reported by two witnesses alleging she stated to former president of Kiribati, Anote Tong: “I know why you’re here, it’s for the cash. For the Pacific, it’s always about the cash. I have my cheque book here, how much do you want?” Melissa also charged $20,145 to stay in her own home for 73 nights.
The former Health Minister charged taxpayers up to $4,000 for a trip to the Gold Coast where she bought an investment property worth $800,000 from Martin Corkery, a major Liberal National party donor who gave the party $50,000 in 2011. In another trip she charged taxpayers to attend a New Year’s party hosted by a liberal party donor and government contract recipient Sarina Russo. Ms Russo has become a multimillionaire, largely on the back of government contracts after employment services were privatised.
A complaint was made by a female defence force officer against Scott for inappropriately giving her a lingering hug on his trip to Darwin. During the trip, he skipped a planned event by the Defence force in favour of attending the Darwin Cup.
After referring to himself as an “idiot”, he forgot how many houses he owned failing to declare three out of five properties. Scott recently charged taxpayers $1,700 to attend a cruise with Gina Rinehart.
A director of the company Australian Agrimarket Pty Ltd, noted on the pecuniary interest register as “an export of Australian agricultural produce & seafood”, used his position to promote his business. Ian claimed $24,837 in entitlements to stay in his own property for 90 nights. Despite being overcompensated for his accommodation, he was caught sleeping in the House of Representatives. It was revealed in 2017 that Ian had donated $9000 to Joondalup mayor Albert Jacob for the postage of a city wide mailout. The lack of further investigation may be due to the fact that Ian is a member of the Committee of Privileges and Members’ Interests.
The Minister for Sport claimed $19,942 in travel expenses from Rockhampton to Melbourne for a chartered flight to see the Mustangs ice hockey team. To sit near Prince Charles at the Commonwealth games, she charged taxpayers $13,955.00 under the category, ‘Unscheduled Transport’. To present awards at the Shooting Australia Awards of Excellence, she charged taxpayers for flights, accommodation and travel to Sydney despite having no relevance to her portfolio.
Barry owns Jillbridge PTY LTD, a shareholder of O’Sullivan and Sons Pty Ltd. O’Sullivan and Sons Pty Ltd owns a share of Newlands Civil Construction. Newlands Civil Construction was tendered by the government for Queensland roads in a contract worth $2.2 million and another contract worth $1.6 billion. The breach of Section 44 was raised by Senator Murray Watt in Parliament in 2017. To date, there has been no referral to the high court over his pecuniary interests. Barry also claimed $19,317 worth of entitlements to stay on his own property for 66 nights.
COULDN’T LAST THE DISTANCE…
Rejected as Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party in August 2018 after three years in the job. Knifed in the back seemingly on the basis Peter Dutton, Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott and others didn’t like Malcolm for not being right wing enough.
Achieved so very little in the top job and stymied by the far right of the Coalition, Turnbull is now left claiming to anybody who will listen that he was the prime minister who successfully pushed through same-sex marriage laws in Australia, when all he allowed for was a plebiscite and months of unhinged bigotry.
Julie Bishop was originally dubbed the ‘Asbestos queen’ for her ruthless strategy in stalling the case until the victims died. Prior to politics, she worked for a corporate firm with a litigation motto, “Even if the workers die like flies … they will never be able to pin it on CSR”.
If there was an award that would go to the most expensive member in Parliament, she would be a nominee. Part of racking up a $1.2 million travel bill included a trip to see the premiere of Thor: Ragnarok. She was seen wearing jewellery worth up to $110,000 absent from the pecuniary interests register. Social media posts suggest the jewellery was for the purpose of soliciting, a breach in the Ministerial code of conduct.
Julie also refused to declare her partners interests on the register claiming he wasn’t her partner, but claimed he was for family travel expenses. Although she has declared a pair of designer shoes worth $25k, it was reported that she breached rules requiring her to pay the difference for gifts exceeding $300. On multiple occasions, Julie has been caught plagiarising authors including a parliamentary speech extracted word for word from the Wall Street Journal.
Just as Christopher Pyne is retiring, it’s emerged that Chinese billionaire Mr Huang paid tens of thousands of dollars to meet with him. Pyne played a key role in Australia exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia, notorious internationally for engaging in war crimes in Yemen. His last submission to the register of interests states, “Accommodation provided by Saudi government for one night of 17th December 2016 for myself at the request of the Royal family”. When it was widely known that Pyne liked an explicit tweet, like many a politician caught in an embarrassing social media slip he claimed his account had been ‘hacked’.
Between 2016 and 2018, Andrew claimed $24,932 for 94 nights to stay at his wifes investment property. When the New Idea published an article disclosing his tax payer funded trip to Hong King to meet a woman 20 years his junior, Andrew referred the matter to the federal police. He claimed that her disclosure was allegedly engaging in criminal activity. When the AFP found that the woman had not committed a crime, he resigned.
Michael Keenan’s office was complicit in the media leaks prior to the Australian Workers Union raids. As the Digital Transformation Minister, he diluted the level of harm the Cambridge Analytica breach had stating, “valuable data that could help drive innovation and growth is being locked away, often for no good reason”.
As the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, he diverted funds intended to advantage the Indigenous away to lobby groups opposed to aboriginal land claims. Part of that funding was then used to cover legal fees to quash native title claims. He also charged taxpayers $37,203 to stay in his own accommodation for 135 nights.
In 2016 videos emerged from Don Dale detention centre in a 4 Corners investigation that the UN described as, “violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, to which Australia is a party”. Nigel Scullion provided conflicting statements revealing that he was aware of the incidents that occurred.
The former shadow Minister for Regional Communications charged taxpayers $28,000 to study overseas internet infrastructure instead of learning from the comfort of his own office. To win the election, Luke spent $104,457.94 on printing and communications. Between 2009 and 2014, his printing costs accumulated to over half a million dollars.