Showing posts with label investigation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label investigation. Show all posts

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Independent Investigation into NSW Water Management and Compliance - interim report concerning theft and corruption allegations published 8 September 2017


It took a public airing of the issues by ABC TV “Four Corners” in its Pumped: Who is benefitting from the billions spent on the Murray-Darling? program on 24 July 2017 to force the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Australian National Audit Office, Commonwealth Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee, NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption and the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government into investigative action.
The NSW Government has now published its initial 78-page report into allegations of theft and corruption in the management of water resources in the Murray–Darling Basin.


On 11 September 2017, Ken Matthews issued a statement regarding the delivery of his Independent Investigation into NSW Water Management and Compliance. The focus of his interim report was to assess whether the department's policies, procedures and actions were appropriate, to recommend whether further actions should be undertaken, and to identify opportunities to improve the department’s future compliance and enforcement performance.

Download the Independent investigation into NSW water management and compliance – Interim report (2 MB PDF).


ABC News, 12 September 2017:
Yesterday, Mr Hanlon was stood down from the Department of Primary Industries pending a misconduct investigation: Four Corners had also revealed he had offered to share with them — via DropBox — internal departmental documents that had been "debadged".
His removal was announced as the Government released a wide-ranging report by Ken Matthews into the allegations raised in the program.
The Matthews report has turned out to be nothing of the whitewash many expected. What he has delivered instead is a grenade.
Among his recommendations is that the Government enforce a regime of "no metering, no pumping" which is sobering for no other reason than it is so obvious: the vast majority of people who pay water rates in this country will be aghast that this has not always been the case for water users who deal in billions of litres of water.
Most alarming for some government employees and businesspeople is the revelation contained in his report that the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has taken up an interest in the matter: including into whether the department has properly and fully pursued cases of alleged illegal water extraction.
As a result of its involvement, the fine details regarding "gaps in the case management record", and why cases were not pursued in the face of "prima facie evidence of substantive breaches", were not published. Instead, Mr Matthews handed these matters to the anti-graft commission.
From what I saw on the ground when we were filming this program, there will be many people sweating on what happens next. The Matthews investigation was clearly thorough, but it was done in a very short time, and with none of the powers of the ICAC.
A critical further point, that might otherwise be lost amid the hue and cry about illegal water take and meter tampering, is the question of so-called "environmental water".
This was made possible by a bizarre "water sharing plan" enacted in 2012 by which the NSW Government gave major water-users more reliable access to water — including by dumping restrictions on pump sizes and allowing fast, large-scale industrial extraction of water even when the river was running low.
Mr Matthews makes it clear that "this issue applies not only in the Barwon-Darling water system but elsewhere in NSW and the wider Murray-Darling Basin".
"Solving the problem will be critical to the success of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan," Mr Matthews found.
"It is a pre-condition if the anticipated environmental benefits of the plan are to be delivered.
"The issue is not new. Regrettably, it has continued without resolution for years ... there is a strong public expectation that arrangements should be in place already, and to the extent that they are not, a remedy is urgent."
This is a bombshell for the Commonwealth Government and this major economic and agrarian reform.
The South Australian Government has reacted to Mr Matthews' findings already, reiterating calls for a national judicial inquiry.
For Mr Le Lievre, and many others, this is where the significant changes need to be made. Communities like Louth will simply fade away without the water they once had flowing past.
Earlier this year, Mr Le Lievre told me someone in the NSW Government had to be held accountable for what had been done with the water.
The Matthews report goes some way to delivering precisely that, but, as the weathered farmer insisted at the time, "the only way to make them accountable and to stop them from pulling out legs is to do it under oath".
"Simple. They can't get out of it, they've got to tell the truth."
It is a power that was not available to Mr Matthews, or to the various other investigations now underway into the Four Corners revelations. It is, however, readily used in the ICAC's hearing room.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Update on Australian Cardinal George Pell: charged with mulitiple sexual offences by Victoria Police


Australian Cardinal George Pell, currently living and working in the Vatican, has been charged on summons by Victoria Police with multiple serious historical sexual offences.
 The Australian, 29 June 2017:

No-one with credibility in the church underestimates the damage caused by clergy abuse, a stain that could still be decades from being rubbed out.
This is the broader challenge facing the Catholic hierarchy.
An 18-month or two year court battle, regardless of whether or not it finds in favour of Pell, will mark more lost time as the church tries to deal with the aftermath of the abuse scandal.
This negative publicity will be compounded by the ongoing reporting of the child sex abuse royal commission, which is still to hand down major reports into the Melbourne and Ballarat case studies.
Pell, being the divisive figure that he is and has been, is receiving support from many of his senior peers but the church is also home to many who believe the institution can only move forward when it sees the cardinal’s back.
Perhaps a fairer perspective is to withhold judgment until the evidence is presented to the court.
It’s often been said but it is worth repeating; the least the victims deserve is the truth, which has been in short supply for too long.

BACKGROUND

Further to Cardinal George Pell’s evidence given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse1.

The Australian, 16 May 2017:
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Lawyers representing George Pell have demanded an apology and retraction from Fairfax and The Guardian over articles ­repeating child sexual abuse alle­gations made in a new book ­described by the cardinal as a “character assassination”.

The legal demands were sent to the media outlets at the weekend after a book made a series of allegations against Cardinal Pell over his role in the sex abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church…..

MUP chief executive Louise Adler said the publishing house had received letters from Cardinal Pell’s representatives but no legal action had been threatened.

Crikey, 23 May 2017:

George Pell, both the man and his troubles with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, might be affecting Australia’s representation in the highest council of the Catholic Church, the College of Cardinals — which elects the Pope — given Sydney (and Melbourne) once more missed out in the latest, very eclectic list from Pope Francis.

Seven News, 20 June 2017:

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told ABC radio Cardinal Pell's lawyers will be told first, once a decision is made whether to charge him.

"A decision is imminent," Mr Ashton told ABC this morning.

"There is a great deal of public interest in it [the George Pell case].

"We'll get something out soon."

It's the third time Mr Ashton has promised an "imminent" decision on the allegations after police got advice from the state's Director of Public Prosecutions on May 16.

On May 18 Mr Ashton said the process wouldn't take too long, and a decision would be reached within a few weeks.

A week later he told 3AW the decision was not too far off.

"The decision is imminent on that," Mr Ashton said on May 25.

On June 1 he described it as "fairly imminent".

The Australian, 24 June 2017:

Those closest to George Pell are increasingly pessimistic about his chances of avoiding charges over historical child sex abuse ­allegations.

The Weekend Australian has been told by multiple sources that — despite his vehement ­denial of wrongdoing — there is a growing resignation that ­charges will almost certainly be laid, plunging the church into what would be an unprecedented scandal.

The Rule Of Law Institute Of Australia Incorporated (a somewhat obscure not-for-profit organisation registered in June 2010) also offered its mite on the subject in The Australian on 25 June 2017:

Victoria Police has been warned not to charge Cardinal George Pell over alleged child sexual abuse to clear the air, or to stage a show trial in response to intense public interest and anger over clerical sex abuse in general.

Lawyer Robin Speed, president of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia said prosecutors should act against Cardinal Pell only if they were fully satisfied about the quality of the evidence.

“They should not act in response to the baying of a section of the mob,’’ he said…..

Mr Speed said that if the cardinal was charged and found innocent the drawn out conduct of the investigation over two years could warrant a judicial inquiry.

Footnote

1. Cardinal George Pell gave evidence from 29 February 2016 by video link from Rome concerning Case Study 35: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and Case Study 28: Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat. Reports on Case Study 28 (Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat) and Case Study 35 (Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne) are yet to be published. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Australian Federal Police spokesperson careful not to say that investigation had 'cleared' Brough & Ashby


This was The Daily Examiner (News Corp) take on the completion of the Australian Federal Police investigation into the unlawful disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers alleged to have occurred when a member of the Speaker of the House of Representatives’ staff photocopied details of the diary and gave it to a person desirous of unseating Peter Slipper:


However, what the Australian Federal Police (AFP) stated was not a clearing of anyone’s name.

As at the time of writing there is no published media release from the AFP one has to rely on details gleaned from various media articles.

“Following a thorough investigation material was provided to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for certain advice. As a result of the advice provided by the CDPP the matter did not proceed further. The length of this investigation has been influenced by a number of factors, including, but not limited to the availability of individuals to provide statements, the provision of materials from third parties, and the substantial volume of material that needed to be assessed.”
In a statement to the ABC, the AFP said it considered the matter now finalised.
"In September 2014 the AFP received a request to investigate matters relating to the alleged unauthorised disclosure of information from the official diary of former speaker of the House of Representatives, Peter Slipper," the statement read.
"Following a thorough investigation material was provided to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) for certain advice.
"As a result of the advice provided by the CDPP the matter did not proceed further."
Mr Slipper said on Tuesday his lawyers has been informed by AFP assistant commissioner Shane Connelly that the investigation had been closed.  In a letter, Mr Connelly said a review found the available evidence was insufficient for any potential prosecution. 

In a letter to Mr Brough’s lawyers, AFP Assistant Commissioner Shane Connelly said the investigation had been finished and no charges laid.
“I write to advise you of the outcome of the Australian Federal Police ‘AFP’ investigation into the allegation a former staff member of then Speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper had disclosed parliamentary diary entries of Mr Slipper without his authority,’’ the letter says.
“A review of the evidence available to support a potential prosecution has determined the evidence is not sufficient to prove all elements of the relevant ­offence ... as a result, the AFP will be taking no further action in ­relation to the matter.’’

I write to advise you of the outcome of the Australian Federal Police ‘AFP’ investigation into the allegation a former staff member of then speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper had disclosed parliamentary diary entries of Mr Slipper without his authority … A review of the evidence available to support a potential prosecution has determined the evidence is not sufficient to prove all elements of the relevant offence, being the disclosures of information by Commonwealth officers as described in section 70 of the Crime Act 1914 (CTH). As a result, the AFP will be taking no further action in relation to the matter.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Twenty-four years on and three Aboriginal children still have no justice


Between September 1990 and January 1991, Colleen Walker-Craig, aged 16, Evelyn Greenup, aged 4, and Clinton Speedy-Duroux, aged 16, went missing from the same street in the small township of Bowraville. In early 1991, the bodies of Evelyn Greenup and Clinton Speedy-Duroux were found in bushland along the Congarinni Road on the outskirts of the town. Clothing belonging to Colleen Walker-Craig was also found in the Nambucca River running through the same area of bushland, however Colleen’s body has never been found. [NSWLC Standing Committee on Law and Justice, November 2014, The family response to the murders in Bowraville report]

No-one has ever been convicted of these crimes. In 2013 the media reported that the person the indigenous community has long suspected of the murders was now employed by an agency dealing with disadvantaged and troubled youth.

In 2014 the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice conducted an inquiry into the handling of the murders of these three NSW Mid-North Coast Aboriginal children and handed down its first report on 6 November, The family response to the murders in Bowraville, with a second report detailing the Government response due by 6 May 2015.

The report (together with transcripts of evidence, tabled documents, submissions, correspondence and answers to questions taken on notice) was tabled in the Legislative Council at 9.43am on 6 November 2014. Members and officers stood as a mark of respect.

Relatives of the murdered children were present in the parliament.

This first report can be found here.

There are fifteen recommendations it contains:


Friday, 21 March 2014

Why did Australian Water Holdings Pty Ltd owe $20,000 to the Liberal Party in 2010?

 
Political donation, lobbyist fee or yet something else again?

One of the questions asked and answered at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Operation Credo-Spicer investigation public hearing on 20 March 2014:

MR O’MAHONEY( counsel assisting ICAC): Did you reference the, I think you referred to them as soft costs but the discretionary costs and you’re concerns about them with Mr Sinodinos?---

RODERICK XAVIER DE ABOITIZ (AWH shareholder): Yes, I did. With Nick I went into more specific detail because I sent him the email with my comments against the accounts that he mentioned.

MR O’MAHONEY: Can you remember any of the specific costs that you took issue with?---

DE ABOITIZ: Look, you know, it seemed like, I just said to him, for a start if you’re 20 paying lobbyists, just stop it, you can’t afford it, so at that time there was $20,000 that I think was owing to the Liberal Party and so these amounts were I believe payables that were “overdue”….