Showing posts with label political probity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label political probity. Show all posts

Friday, 28 July 2017

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts' British citizenship renunciation timeline not clear



On Sunday 8 May 2016the Prime Minister announced there would be a federal election on 2 July that year.

Writs were issued on 16 May and the rolls closed 23 May 2016.

At 12 noon on Thursday 9 June 2016 close of nominations for both House of Representatives and Senate candidates occurred.

Early voting commenced on 14 June and Election Day ended at 6pm on 2 July 2016.

According to One Nation Senator Malcolm Ieuan Roberts as reported in The Age on 27 July 2017; he wrote to the British authorities on May 1 last year to ask them whether he was a British citizen, given he was born to a Welsh father in India.
He says he got no response so he wrote a further email on June 6 - three days before nominations closed - saying that if he was a citizen he fully renounced. He subsequently nominated as a candidate and won a Queensland Senate seat.

However, this tweet by Chief Political Correspondent, Sydney Morning Herald & The Age, James Massola, throws Malcolm Roberts assertion that he was not a British citizen at the time of nomination into doubt.


It appears that U.K. authorities and Mr. Roberts may possibly have different views of when he ceased to be a British citizen.

I strongly suspect that the High Court of Australia would be inclined to accept the word of the U.K. Government over that of Malcolm Roberts if this difference is confirmed.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Liberal Senator Matt Canavan reveals he has dual citizenship but refuses to resign from the Australian Parliament


COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT - SECT 44, Disqualification, “Any person who: (i) is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power; “

Liberal Senator for Queensland Matthew “Matt” Canavan has admitted to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that he held dual citizenship when he was nominated for the Australian Senate in 2013.

His mother Maria and he, along his brother and sister, were registered as Italian citizens in January 2007. He would have been 26 years of age at the time.

Mr. Canavan knew that his mother was an Italian citizen but would have the world believe that he was unaware that he was so registered until 18 July 2017.

This is the official spin the Turnbull Government is offering the national electorate:

SENATOR THE HON GEORGE BRANDIS QC
ATTORNEY-GENERAL
LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SENATE

SENATOR THE HON MATT CANAVAN

Transcript of Statements on Senator Canavan’s Citizenship, Brisbane

25 July 2017 

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Yesterday afternoon, Senator Canavan approached the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and me to tell us that he had received advice from the Italian Embassy that, according to their records, he was registered as an Italian citizen.   

Senator Canavan will explain circumstances in which he came to be registered as an Italian citizen. In brief, it occurred in 2006 when Senator Canavan’s mother, who is of Italian heritage, registered both herself and members of her family, including Senator Canavan, with the Italian consulate in Brisbane as an “Italian Resident abroad,” which is a form of citizenship. Senator Canavan, who was an adult at the time, did not authorise this to be done on his behalf. The first he became aware that she had done so was when she raised the matter with him on 18 July. He then sought urgent advice from the Italian embassy, which was only confirmed yesterday afternoon.

In the meanwhile, the Government has taken advice from the Solicitor-General and we are in the process of taking advice from experts in Italian citizenship law. It is the Government’s preliminary view that, because the registration was obtained without Senator Canavan’s knowledge or consent, that he is not in breach of s. 44 of the Constitution. Nevertheless, in view of the legal uncertainty concerning the matter, when the Senate convenes on Tuesday week, the Government will move to refer the matter for determination by the High Court.

MINISTER CANAVAN:  Well thank you, George. As George has outlined I have become aware that according to the Italian Government, I am a citizen of Italy. I was not born in Italy, I’ve never been to Italy and, to my knowledge, have never stepped foot in an Italian consulate or embassy. Until last week, I had no suspicion that I could possibly be an Italian citizen. In 2006, my mother lodged documents with the Italian consulate in Brisbane to become an Italian citizen. In doing so, it would appear that she made an application for me to become an Italian citizen as well. I was 25 years old at the time. My mother was born in Australia but was able to obtain Italian citizenship through her parents, who were both born in Italy. While I knew that my mother had become an Italian citizen, I had no knowledge that I myself had become an Italian citizen, nor had I requested to become an Italian citizen.

Following the reporting of Senator Ludlam and Senator Waters last week, my mother raised with me, the possibility that I was in fact an Italian citizen, on Tuesday evening. I have, since then, taken steps to check my citizenship status with the Italian authorities and that has confirmed that I was registered as an Italian citizen in January 2007. The Italian authorities have confirmed that the application for Italian citizenship was not signed by me. To my knowledge, until this week I have not received any correspondence from the Italian authorities about my citizenship status and they have not been able to provide any such records.

In the short time available, I have not been able to obtain definitive legal advice as to whether my registration as an Italian citizen, without my knowledge or consent, was valid under Italian law. I am seeking to obtain that advice presently. On the basis of the advice the Government has obtained, and that George outlined, it is not my intention to resign from the Senate. However given the uncertainty around this matter, I will stand aside until the matter is finally resolved and resign as the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia. I have informed the Prime Minister of that course of action. Thank you.

The bottom line for Mr. Canavan is that by 2013 when he nominated for the Australian Senate he had known his mother was an Italian citizen for at least five years and he did not take reasonable steps to discover if her citizenship by descent had any impact on his own citizenship status.

Matt Canavan should do the honourable thing and resign from parliament immediately as other members of parliament have done before him.

UPDATE

The Courier Mail, 26 July 2017:

It also emerged today that Senator Canavan discussed Italian citizenship with his mother almost a decade ago.

It has also been alleged that the Italian Government has sent him voting forms for the last ten years.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

And Australian federal politicians wonder why they are held in such low esteem


The majority of those Teflon-coated, masters of entitlement sitting in the Senate and House of Representative in Canberra wouldn’t even make the gesture……


Fewer than a quarter of federal politicians have agreed to commit to new ethical standards devised by legendary corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald - and there is not a single Turnbull government MP among them.

The former judge teamed up with the left-leaning Australia Institute think tank to survey every federal politician on their values as part of a plan to clean up Canberra and build momentum for a federal anti-corruption body.

The Queensland QC – who presided over the Fitzgerald Inquiry that ultimately led to the resignation of former state premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen – developed the questionnaire to test MPs about their attitudes towards accountability, integrity, nepotism, deception and the spending of public money.

But the response from MPs was underwhelming, with just 53 of the 226 signing up to the so-called "Fitzgerald Principles". Thirty-six refused to commit and 137 did not reply to repeated requests to participate.

"The refusal of a majority of politicians to commit publicly to normal standards of behaviour puts the need for an effective anti-corruption commission beyond doubt," Mr Fitzgerald said. 
"The major parties surely realise that the public wants politicians to behave honourably and that the scandals which are causing Australians to lose faith in democracy involve their members."

Thirty-eight members of the ALP agreed to the principles, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus. Seven members of the Australian Greens signed up, as did all four members of the Nick Xenophon Team, two independents and One Nation's Pauline Hanson.

No Coalition MPs - who are often instructed not to take part in surveys - signed up.

The Australia Institute, 28 January 2015:

The Fitzgerald Principles are:

1. Govern for the peace, welfare and good government of the State;
2. Make all decisions and take all actions, including public appointments, in the public interest without regard to personal, party political or other immaterial considerations;
3.  Treat all people equally without permitting any person or corporation special access or influence; and
4.  Promptly and accurately inform the public of its reasons for all significant or potentially controversial decisions and actions.

The Australian Government has a Statement Of Ministerial Standards which all federal government ministers are obliged to uphold. However, currently there is no general code of conduct for all members of parliament and, it appears that most of those we elected in 2016 like the freedom to do as they please which this allows and are loathe to alter the status quo.

Friday, 9 June 2017

The optics are not good when it comes to the former Australian Minister for Trade and Investment


According to former Australian Minister for Trade and Investment & former Liberal MP for Goldstein Andrew Robb he is now in the business of providing "boutique investment, trade and major projects counsel for companies and organisation's globally, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region" through his company Andrew Robb Pty Ltd which is contactable "C/- Ellerston Capital". 

The website goes on to state that; Mr Robb is currently a Board Member of the Kidman cattle enterprise and the Network Ten television station, Chair of Asialink and CNSDose, and strategic advisor to Beef Innovations Australia, as well as a range of national and international businesses.

On 13 July 2016 the Australian Financial Review added an investment bank to the list:

Former trade minister Andrew Robb has joined investment bank Moelis & Company, where he will focus on deals with China.
Robb had announced this appointment on the same day.
By 2 September 2016 Landbridge Group Co Ltd, a Chinese corporation based in Rizhao, China, had informed the world that Mr. Robb was now a senior economic consultant with the group effective two months earlier. 


According to The Age on 6 June 2017:

The details of the consultancy have never been disclosed by Mr Ye or Mr Robb. Neither has the fact that Mr Robb is being used to spruik a Chinese Communist Party-backed trade park as part of his consultancy agreement.

Mr Ye frames much of his business activity, including the acquisition of the Port of Darwin lease, in terms of advancing Beijing's ambitious global trade and infrastructure project "One Belt, One Road".

The port's acquisition sparked a major controversy after then US president Barack Obama complained he hadn't been forewarned. The Defence Department and ASIO have vetted and cleared Landbridge's acquisition of the port. But the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, said the port deal might benefit Beijing's long-term strategic interests, and not necessarily those of Australia.

Mr Ye publicly announced on September 2 last year that Mr Robb had been appointed as a "high-level economic consultant". At the time, Mr Robb had already been working for Mr Ye for eight weeks, and had earned $146,000, including GST but minus expenses…..

In April 2016, less than three months before his consultancy agreement began, Mr Robb visited China with an Australian delegation in his capacity as Australia's trade envoy. The delegation was lobbied by Rizhao Communist Party deputy secretary Liu Xingtai to support the trade park as part of a "Two Countries, Two Parks" proposal.

"The proposal has been fully recognised and highly affirmed by the Shandong Province Party Committee, the Provincial Government and the Department of Commerce," the Chinese government statement said.

The statement also said deputy secretary Liu had met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NT Chief Minister Adam Giles on April 14, 2016, and "proposed the co-operative model of Two Countries, Two Parks".  

Mr Ye placed Mr Robb on his payroll 10 weeks later.

Now if memory serves me correctly on 11 February 2016 Mr. Robb announced that he would not recontest his seat and the Australian Parliament was dissolved on 9 May 2016 ahead of the federal election.

As he was on his feet in the House of Representatives on 4 May and was listed as a sitting member in the Hansard of 5 May when the Budget was delivered after which all federal politicians then returned to their electorates, one can be forgiven for assuming that he did not officially retire until 9 May 2016 when the parliament was dissolved.

Twenty-three days later on 1 July 2016 (the day before the 2016 federal election day) Andrew Robb was on the Landbridge payroll according to ABC TV Four Corners 5 May 2017 transcript:

From that date, he's be[ing] paid $73,000 a month, or $880,000 a year, plus expenses.

This of course is in addition to his parliamentary superannuation lumpsum and/or periodic payments based on Commonwealth contributions equivalent to est. 15.4% of salary/wages per the Parliamentary Superannuation Act 2004 (Robb turned 65 years of age in August 2016) and remuneration for aforementioned directorships and other consultancy positions.

On 1 July Mr. Robb would have reached the end of any period in which he was eligible to receive a percentage of his base parliamentary salary as a departing MP not standing for re-election.

Looking at this timeline I wouldn't be surprised if the formal contract with Landbridge was not signed even earlier than 1 July, that the ink was probably still drying on this document when Robb told parliament of his intention to resign and stood down as trade and investment minister on 18 February 2016.

Monday, 29 May 2017

IN MATES WE TRUST: that all too familiar stench begins to drift across Parliament Drive once more


Prime Minister John Howard with Bob Day then a Liberal donor and party figure
The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September 2008

On 17 May 2017The Guardian reported on the matter of the eligibility of Family First’s Bob Day1 to sit in the Australian Senate:
A majority of the court found that Day was ineligible from 26 February 2016. He was paid close to $130,000 between then and his November resignation.

Ryan said Day had been warned he was required to repay the salary and superannuation he earned as a senator, and similar letters had been sent to former One Nation senator Rod Culleton.

Barely eight days pass and then……
ABC News, 25 May 2017:

The Federal Government has agreed to waive debts owed by former senator Bob Day, after receiving advice that he may not be able to repay the money.

Special Minister of State senator Scott Ryan told a Senate estimates committee he decided to waive the debts in line with decisions made in similar cases in the past.

In April, the High Court ruled Mr Day was not validly elected to the Senate last year, due to a complex arrangement involving a building previously owned by Mr Day being leased by the Commonwealth.

It was recently revealed the Senate and Department of Finance were pursuing Mr Day and fellow disqualified senator Rod Culleton, seeking the repayment of their salaries and other allowances.

Both men received letters informing them of the situation, potentially owing hundreds of thousands of dollars between them.

Senator Ryan told the estimates hearing Mr Day took up an option to formally request the debt be waived.

The Minister said he was advised pursuing the debts may not be fair.

"It may be seen to be inequitable for the Commonwealth to recover the debt, given Mr Day performed his duties as a senator in good faith," he said.

"The [advisory] committee also noted Mr Day's personal financial circumstances."

Remembering of course that the Liberal Party and its financial backers have a history of propping up Mr. Day…….

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 February 2017:

A wealthy fundraising body linked to the Liberal Party has quietly begun bankrolling the organisations behind two of the Coalition's biggest crossbench supporters in the finely balanced Senate.

The Cormack Foundation has donated more than $40 million to the Liberal Party over the last 18 years – including more than $3 million in 2015-16 – making it one of the party's biggest benefactors.

The foundation is an investment company and "associated entity" of the Liberals that donates dividends from its share portfolio. It has stakes in a number of blue-chip companies – including the big four banks, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Telstra and Wesfarmers – raising about $3.9 million last year.

But for the first time in its 30-year history, the foundation last year donated to parties other than the Liberals – giving $25,000 each to the conservative Family First and the libertarian Liberal Democrats, according to the Australian Election Commission annual returns released this week.

The foundation has eight listed shareholders, who are also the company's directors. They include Rupert Murdoch's brother-in-law John Calvert-Jones, former Reserve Bank board member and Business Council of Australia president Hugh Morgan and former ANZ chairman Charles Goode.

The donations came in a year that the Abbott and then Turnbull governments were highly reliant in the Senate on the votes of Family First's Bob Day and the Liberal Democrats' David Leyonhjelm….

It's believed to be the first occasion an "associated entity" has linked itself to more than one political party at a time.

ABC News, 2 November 2017:

The Abbott government ignored the advice of its own bureaucrats when it approved the lease agreement with former Family First senator Bob Day regarding his Adelaide electorate office in 2014.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information reveal the Finance Department advised the Government not to allow Mr Day to relocate his electorate office from the Adelaide CBD to a building he owned in Kent Town, warning it had "concerns about how such a transaction might be perceived"……

Despite this advice, the then special minister of state, Michael Ronaldson, wrote to Mr Day in March 2014 telling him he was willing to consider the arrangement as long as the Kent Town property met Commonwealth standards and that no rent would be charged to the Commonwealth until the lease ended on the CBD office space.

Mr Day sold the building to Fullerton Investments and last December, the company entered into a lease agreement with the Commonwealth under which no rent would be paid……

Mr Day's company loaned Fullarton Investments money to make the purchase — and are ultimately liable for a National Australia Bank mortgage on the building.

Between 2004 and 2006 Bob Day’s company Homestead Homes donated $9,937 to the Liberal Party in South Australia. It is understood that the donation tally may be higher as Day owned more than one company and at least one trust which may have contributed to party coffers.

NOTES



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

FACTS OF THE MATTER: Trump, Russia and the 2016 U.S. presidential election


FACTS UNDER OATH

GRAHAM: OK. Do you stand by your testimony that there is an active investigation counterintelligence investigation regarding Trump campaign individuals in the Russian government as to whether not to collaborate? You said that in March...
COMEY: To see if there was any coordination between the Russian effort and peoples...
GRAHAM: Is that still going on?
COMEY: Yes.
GRAHAM: OK. So nothing's changed. You stand by those two statements?
COMEY: Correct. ……

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.: Thanks. Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you Director Comey for being here and thank you to you and the men and women who work with you at the FBI for their extraordinary service to our country, much of it unappreciated as you've wrote so powerfully in your opening statement. You have confirmed, I believe, that the FBI is investigating potential ties between Trump Associates and the Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, correct?
COMEY: Yes.
BLUMENTHAL: And you have not, to my knowledge, ruled out anyone in the Trump campaign as potentially a target of that criminal investigation, correct?
COMEY: Well, I haven't said anything publicly about who we've opened investigations on, I briefed the chair and ranking on who those people are. And so I can't -- I can't go beyond that in this setting. [FBI Director James B. Comey responds to a questions from Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (Democrat-Connecticut) during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation”, commencing 10am US EDT 3 May 2017, transcript published in The Washington Post]

With respect to the Russian investigation, we treated it like we did with the Clinton investigation. We didn't say a word about it until months into it and then the only thing we've confirmed so far about this is the same thing with the Clinton investigation. That we are investigating. And I would expect, we're not going to say another peep about it until we're done. And I don't know what will be said when we're done, but that's the way we handled the Clinton investigation as well…….
In that particular investigation, my judgment was that it — that the appearance of fairness and independence required that it be removed from the political chain of command within the Department of Justice, because as you recall, it seems like a lifetime ago. But that also involved the conduct of people who were senior-level people in the White House, and my judgment was that even I, as an independent-minded person, was a political appointee and so I ought to give it to a career person like Pat Fitzgerald.
The Russians used cyber operations against both political parties, including hacking into servers used by the Democratic National Committee and releasing stolen data to WikiLeaks and other media outlets. Russia also collected on certain Republican Party- affiliated targets, but did not release any Republican-related data. The Intelligence Community Assessment concluded first that President Putin directed and influenced campaign to erode the faith and confidence of the American people in our presidential election process. Second, that he did so to demean Secretary Clinton, and third, that he sought to advantage Mr. Trump. These conclusions were reached based on the richness of the information gathered and analyzed and were thoroughly vetted and then approved by the directors of the three agencies and me. [JAMES R. CLAPPER JR., former Director Of National Intelligence August 2010–January 2017, giving evidence before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election”, commencing 4.30am AEST 9 May 2017, transcript published in The Washington Post]
When the Intelligence Community obtains information suggesting that a U.S. person is acting on behalf of a foreign power, the standard procedure is to share that information with the FBI. The Bureau then decides whether to look into that information and handles any ensuing investigation, if there is one.
Given its sensitivity, even the existence of a counterintelligence investigation is closely held, including at the highest levels. During my tenure as DNI, it was my practice to defer to the FBI Director – both Director Mueller and Director Comey – on whether, when, and to what extent they would inform me about such investigations. This stems from the unique position of the FBI, which straddles both intelligence and law enforcement. As a consequence, I was not aware of the counterintelligence investigation Director Comey first referred to during his testimony before the House intelligence committee on March 20th, and that comports with my public statements[JAMES R. CLAPPER, former Director of National Intelligence, giving evidence before the U.S. Committee On The Judiciary Subcommittee On Crime And Terrorism United States Senate investigation into “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election”, 8 May 2017, transcript]
I had two in-person meetings and one phone call with the White House Counsel about Mr. Flynn. The first meeting occurred on January 26, called Don McGahn first thing that morning and told him that I had a very sensitive matter that I needed to discuss with him, that I couldn't talk about it on the phone and that I needed to come see him. And he agreed to meet with me later that afternoon.

I took a senior member of the national security division who was overseeing this matter with me to meet with Mr. McGahn. We met in his office at the White House which is a skiff (ph) so we could discuss classified information in his office. We began our meeting telling him that there had been press accounts of statements from the vice president and others that related conduct that Mr. Flynn had been involved in that we knew not to be the truth.

And as I - as I tell you what happened here, again I'm going to be very careful not to reveal classified information…..

So I told them again that there were a number of press accounts of statements that had been made by the vice president and other high-ranking White House officials about General Flynn's conduct that we knew to be untrue. And we told them how we knew that this - how we had this information, how we had acquired it, and how we knew that it was untrue.

And we walked the White House Counsel who also had an associate there with him through General Flynn's underlying conduct, the contents of which I obviously cannot go through with you today because it's classified. But we took him through in a fair amount of detail of the underlying conduct, what General Flynn had done, and then we walked through the various press accounts and how it had been falsely reported.

We also told the White House Counsel that General Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI on February 24. Mr. McGahn asked me how he did and I declined to give him an answer to that. And we then walked through with Mr. McGahn essentially why we were telling them about this and the first thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that General Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself.

Secondly, we told him we felt like the vice president and others were entitled to know that the information that they were conveying to the American people wasn't true. And we wanted to make it really clear right out of the gate that we were not accusing Vice President Pence of knowingly providing false information to the American people.

And, in fact, Mr. McGahn responded back to me to let me know that anything that General Flynn would've said would have been based -- excuse me -- anything that Vice President Pence would have said would have been based on what General Flynn had told him.
We told him the third reason was -- is because we were concerned that the American people had been misled about the underlying conduct and what General Flynn had done, and additionally, that we weren't the only ones that knew all of this, that the Russians also knew about what General Flynn had done.

And the Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others, because in the media accounts, it was clear from the vice president and others that they were repeating what General Flynn had told them, and that this was a problem because not only did we believe that the Russians knew this, but that they likely had proof of this information.

And that created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians. Finally, we told them that we were giving them all of this information so that they could take action, the action that they deemed appropriate.

I remember that Mr. McGahn asked me whether or not General Flynn should be fired, and I told him that that really wasn't our call, that was up to them, but that we were giving them this information so that they could take action, and that was the first meeting.
[SALLY C. YATES, former Deputy U.S. Attorney-General & former Acting Attorney-General January 2015-January 2017, giving evidence before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election”, commencing 4.30am AEST 9 May 2017, transcript published in The Washington Post]


‘ALTERNATIVE FACTS’




via  

HOLT: Monday, you met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Did you ask for a recommendation?
TRUMP: What I did was, I was going to fire. My decision. I was not...
HOLT: You’d made the decision before they came into the room?
TRUMP: I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it by the way.
HOLT: In your letter, you said, ‘I accept their recommendation.’ 
TRUMP: Oh, I was going to fire, regardless of recommendation. He made a recommendation, he’s highly respected — very good guy, very smart guy. And the Democrats like him, Republicans like him. He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. [Excerpt from NBC News Lester Holt interview with Donald Trump on 11 May 2017]






Thursday, 4 May 2017

Is Pauline Hanson failing to fully comply with state and federal electoral laws - again?


It almost beggars belief. Is Pauline Hanson failing to fully comply with state and federal electoral laws – again?


The Saturday Paper, 29 April-5 May 2017:
One Nation risks deregistration in Queensland following the failure of Pauline Hanson to advise the Electoral Commission of Queensland about a botched incorporation that has left it with a noncompliant constitution. The party secretly switched legal structures last November without telling members, using a draconian clause in its superseded governance rules that allowed One Nation state executive members to do whatever they chose without question. Former insiders have said a principal purpose for the incorporation was to put in place a corporate veil so the entity rather than members of the executive would be the subject of legal action.
The method of incorporation and the failure to consult is consistent with a trend of centralising all of One Nation’s power in Queensland, which has in the past been illustrated by attempts to close branches across the country through the use of proxies to forcibly remove “troublesome” state leaders, attempts to close bank accounts over which the One Nation national committee had no authority, and the initiation of complaints to police to intimidate a sub-branch in the Northern Territory.
At the same time, the party neglected to observe mandatory rules contained in Commonwealth and Queensland electoral laws, which must be included in its constitution for One Nation to be a political party with legal standing. Breaches of provisions that specify which clauses must appear for a constitution to be compliant under law are grounds for the cancellation of a party’s registration under Section 78 of Queensland’s Electoral Act.
Neither Senator Hanson nor the deputy registered officer – party treasurer and Hanson’s brother-in-law Greg Smith – informed the electoral commission of the changes in legal structure of the entity. There were two reporting deadlines missed by One Nation – notification of the changes should have been delivered seven days after December 31 and March 31. 
News of One Nation’s constitutional high jinks follows revelations over the past six months related to the party’s preselection and disendorsement processes during the West Australian election, questions about its compliance with goods and services tax legislation, and doubts about the donation and declaration of an aeroplane to Pauline Hanson for campaigning purposes.
It also follows a network-wide ban of the ABC, announced in a Facebook video posted by Hanson after the April 3 airing of a Four Corners report that highlighted a range of issues faced by One Nation. The program, criticised by Hanson and her colleagues as a media “stitch-up”, has resulted in a formal investigation by the Australian Electoral Commission, related to the donation of the two-seater plane.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is the business name of One Nation Queensland Division Incorporated, which was an unincorporated association since it registered on January 23, 2001. That changed last year when the entity was incorporated with the same ABN. 
The entity is regarded as the same for tax purposes and the name of the unincorporated body has transitioned into the incorporated form……

Crikey.com.au, 5 April 2017:

And that’s where the law comes in. The facts as we know them are that Ashby has a plane, in which he flies Hanson around the country on what is clearly One Nation business. Hanson herself has made numerous public statements, including on the party website, asserting that the plane belongs to One Nation. It is literally plastered with her name and face.

One Nation is a registered political party. The Commonwealth Electoral Act requires each party, and each of its state branches, to lodge an annual return with the Australian Electoral Commission, within 16 weeks after the end of each financial year. The annual return must include disclosure of all amounts received by, or on behalf of, the party from any single source totalling more than $13,000 (for the 2015-2016 year).

Donations are expressly defined as including the value of a gift. There is no room for doubt that, if a generous supporter gave an aeroplane to an official of the party, so that that official could fly the leader of the party around the countryside on party business, then the gift of the plane (or the cash to buy the plane, if that’s what happened) would be required to be disclosed in the party’s next annual return to the AEC.

Queensland has its own political donation disclosure laws, which are tougher than the federal regime. Returns are required to be lodged six-monthly, all gifts over $1000 must be disclosed, and any gift worth more than $100,000 has to be reported within seven business days.

One Nation’s Queensland Electoral Commission return for the relevant period in 2016 discloses nothing about the aircraft purchase or gift, but it does include an expenditure item of $1187.09 paid by the party to “Jabiru Aircraft Service”. There are numerous payments to Ashby’s companies for printing services, totalling some $17,000 in the same period. Who was paying for the running costs of the aircraft is a mystery.

But it’s pretty simple, really. Whoever paid for Hanson’s plane — however they paid for it and who legally or beneficially owns it — it was, in form and substance, a gift to the direct benefit of her eponymous political party, and she has treated it and talked about it as exactly that for the past two years…..

The Australian2 May 2017:

One Nation’s Senator Hanson shifted her story again on Monday night and said a $106,000 plane “came from” party donor Vicland’s Bill McNee to be used by her chief of staff James Ashby, but it was not a donation.

“So the plane came from Bill McNee, but it was not for the party it was to James for his business?” Sky News’ Andrew Bolt asked.
“Correct,” she answered……

Last night Senator Hanson said the Victorian businessman had allowed Mr Ashby to use the plane.

“He didn’t donate the plane to James Ashby. Having met James, they became friends,” Senator Hanson told Sky News.

“Bill’s a developer and he actually has a lot of business that he does in Queensland, and Bill was continually looking around for a plane.

“He found out James was a pilot (and) he thought: “Here’s a great opportunity to actually have a plane and to actually ¬use it as well.’ ”

The Australian, 3 May 2017:

Pauline Hanson’s controversial chief of staff says he has a “crossover” business relationship with the Melbourne property developer and political donor at the centre of a disclosure row over the purchase of the light plane used by the One Nation leader for election campaigning.

But James Ashby, whose iron-fisted control of Senator Hanson’s office has created ructions inside the party, insisted yesterday that he bought the $106,000 Jabiru 23-D aircraft in 2015 for recreational use and for his printing business in Queensland.

Senator Hanson raised further questions about the status of the plane on Monday when she confirmed on Sky News it had “come from” Bill McNee, but was for Mr Ashby’s firm, not her travel for One Nation.

This conflicts with the media-shy businessman’s assertion that he had no knowledge of the aircraft or how Mr Ashby acquired it. Mr McNee’s company, Vicland, is the Hanson party’s biggest donor, though in a rare interview last November he told The Australian he was stopping all political donations because “it’s something I don’t believe in any longer”.

Pressed on whether he had provided funds to Mr Ashby to buy the plane two years ago, Mr McNee said: “My God, if I am going to buy a plane, I would buy one for myself.” He hung up when contacted yesterday.

The Australian Electoral Commission is investigating whether the acquisition of the plane by Mr Ashby and its use to fly Senator Hanson to campaign events in Queensland before her re-election to federal parliament last July subverted financial disclosure laws.

BACKGROUND

The Guardian, 20 August 2003:

The fiery redhead, renowned for her garish wardrobe, had pleaded not guilty to fraudulently registering One Nation in the state of Queensland. She also denied dishonestly obtaining A$500,000 (£206,000) in electoral funds used for the campaigns of 11 politicians elected to the Queensland state parliament….
Prosecutors had accused Hanson and Ettridge of passing off a list of 500 supporters as genuine, paid-up members of One Nation in order to register the party and apply for electoral funding.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 August 2003:

Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and party co-founder David Ettridge have been jailed for three years each after being found guilty of fraud charges by a Brisbane District Court jury.

Judge Patsy Wolfe made no recommendation for parole.
           
Hanson, 49, and Ettridge, 58, had pleaded not guilty to fraudulently registering One Nation in Queensland on December 4, 1997.

Hanson had also pleaded not guilty to dishonestly obtaining almost $500,000 in electoral reimbursements after the 1998 state election.

But a Brisbane District Court jury found the pair guilty on all counts after more than nine hours of deliberations.

ABC Radio, PM, 6 November 2003:

MARK COLVIN: But first, the freeing of Pauline Hanson and David Ettridge. The One Nation co-founders have won their bid to get out of jail, after successfully overturning their convictions and their three-year sentences for electoral fraud.

Eleven weeks ago, Hanson and Ettridge were both sentenced to three years jail, after a jury found that they'd fraudulently registered the One Nation Party which they'd founded. Hanson was also found guilty of fraudulently obtaining nearly half a million dollars in electoral funding.

But they'll soon be released from jail, and family and friends were elated by the decision when it came down at Queensland's Court of Appeal this evening.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Is this the Peter Dutton version of "Children Overboard"*


Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Liberal MP for Dixon and multi-millionaire Peter Craig Dutton during a Sky News interview on 20 April  2017:

“There was an alleged incident where three asylum seekers were alleged to be leading a local five-year-old boy back toward the facility”

ABC TV Insiders, excerpt, 23 April 2017:
CASSIDY: I want to ask you about the recent disturbance at Manus Island. You recently linked that to a situation where you said that a 5-year-old boy was led away by three asylum seekers and that caused the mood to elevate quite quickly. Now, that's not true, is it?
DUTTON: Of course, it is true.
CASSIDY: It's not true.
DUTTON: It is true. And the briefing that I've had is particularly succinct and clear.
CASSIDY: Who gave you this information?
DUTTON: Well Barrie, I have senior people on the island. We also have obviously, significant contacts with the governor and people of Manus.
CASSIDY: You didn't speak with the police commander, clearly?
DUTTON: I can give you the facts in relation to it or you can take the Twitter version.
CASSIDY: Well let me give you what I understand the facts to be. The boy wasn't five, he was ten. It didn't happen on the day of the disturbance, it happened a week before the disturbance and there's CCTV footage outside of tent number one that shows the boy went inside and the people are packing fruit into plastic bags. They gave him the fruit and he left.
DUTTON: So let me give you the facts. The fact is that as people would understand, Manus Island is home not only to the regional processing centre but also to the naval base there as well. The point that I was making and certainly the clear advice that I received was that there had been a ramping up in terms of the mood on the ground over a period of time which included a sexual assault, to which you've made no reference, separate to any incident that we're talking about here.
CASSIDY: The sexual assault, that you're talking about two people have been charged with sexual assault but deny the charges.
DUTTON: So as you imagine ...
CASSIDY: You're an ex-Queensland policeman. You know that you're presumed innocent don't you?
DUTTON: Of course, but you're going to the mood on the ground which is not something that you need to prove beyond reasonable doubt in court. You're talking about what the elevation of the mood was on the ground and it was elevated by these allegations around this sexual assault. Now let that go through the courts -
CASSIDY: Elevated by the incident involving the 5-year-old boy?
DUTTON: Well just let me finish. So you've got the sexual assault, which as you say, can be heard in court. Everybody deserves innocence and I don't make any judgement about that. But I'm saying that that it did elevate the mood on the ground. And second to that, there is this incident which is being investigated by the police. Now, that will run its course.
CASSIDY: The police are investigating this incident around the 5-year-old boy?
DUTTON: Yes, they are.
CASSIDY: Do they understand that he's 10 and not 5?
DUTTON: I'll leave the detail to them.
CASSIDY: The detail is important in these matters?
DUTTON: It is. But if your claim is that the mood on the ground hadn't been elevated ...
CASSIDY: It's not my claim. The police commander says that there's CCTV footage showing that the boy was waiting outside the gate, he was looking for food. Food was placed into a plastic bag and given to him. He was ten years old and it happened a week before the disturbance and he left. That's the extent of it. Now how is that relevant to anything?
DUTTON: Well Barrie, I'm not sure whether you can be the judge, jury and executioner in this matter.
CASSIDY: The police commander said this.
DUTTON: Let's allow the police investigation to be conducted.
CASSIDY: Well why didn't you do that? Why didn't you let that happen?
DUTTON: I received different advice from that.
CASSIDY: Why didn't you let the investigation happen before you pre-empted it?
DUTTON: I was asked why the mood had elevated on the ground on Manus Island. These two incidents fed directly into that. That is indisputable. So if you're asking me about why there was an elevation of the angst between those that are living, including on the naval base on Manus, this was part of it. And that was the clear advice to me.
CASSIDY: Do you accept that you got some of the information badly wrong?
DUTTON: No, I do not. And again -
CASSIDY: The age of the boy? The intentions, whether he was led into the facility? He went in and took a plastic bag of fruit and left?
DUTTON: Again Barrie, I think that there are facts that I have that you don't so why don't we let the police investigation run its course and allow them some independent analysis of it because if you're asking me why the mood elevated, these two incidents fed into it and I have that on very good authority on the island. The parents of the boy involved in the incident might have a different view to the one that you have read off tweets and that's fine.
CASSIDY: The police commander said that this happened because there was a soccer game going on beyond a six o'clock curfew and that's what caused the disturbance and he said that some of the PNG soldiers were drunk. And yet, you put all of the blame on the asylum seekers.
DUTTON: I didn't put any blame anywhere. I was asked a question as to why the mood was elevated, I've answered that question honestly and on advice. In relation to the soccer game and the incident otherwise, yes absolutely, that's part of the facts of the whole lead-up to this unfortunate incident. Now, it's being properly investigated by the chief of defence in PNG, by the police commissioner, as it should. I also make the point -- in that interview, which you don't note, I make the point that shots being fired or behaviour as it is reported is completely unacceptable and it should be investigated. I made that point, which you neglect to make reference to. And it is important that this investigation take place, that it is properly looked at and if people are charged or whatever comes out of it, as you say, let them have their fair day in court.
CASSIDY: What would clear it up and it would help to clear up any reflection on you over your version of events is the CCTV footage. Would you allow that to be released so that everybody can be clear on what happened?
DUTTON: Barrie, the police investigation will take place -
CASSIDY: And after that, do you think that it would be appropriate to release the footage?
DUTTON: - if people are charged in relation to it to allow the course to be run.
CASSIDY: But if there's no charges and nothing happened here? Are you happy to have that footage released?
DUTTON: Well we will continue to release footage as is the normal practice now. I'm not making an exception one way or the other in relation to this case. If it is appropriate for it, and that's been the practice in the past, then that will happen. But that is an issue for the PNG Government. They run Manus Island, as you know. We inherited the mess of Manus Island from the Labor Party. We've stopped the boats and we want to get people off Manus island as quickly as possible. We've done that in terms of the negotiation with the US. Kevin Rudd's deal with the PNG Government had no outcome at all for people on Manus island. We are not adding to people on Manus island. We're not repopulating through new boat arrivals because we have stopped boats. But our job now is to get people off. We're doing that as quickly as possible. But we face all of the barriers in terms of returns that we spoke about before……

Given this performance (and a previous instance) one has to wonder about the quality of any evidence given to the courts by Mr. Dutton during the 1990s when he served as a Queensland police officer in the Drug Squad, Sex Offenders Squad and with the National Crime Authority.