Showing posts with label #MorrisonGovernmentFAIL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #MorrisonGovernmentFAIL. Show all posts

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Proof that the Morrison Government considers itself above the law

Image: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN, The Sydney Morning Herald 
Minister for for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population & Liberal MP for Aston Alan Tudge (left) has been Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs since 13 December 2019.

It is to him the following Federal Court of Australia judgment refers.

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs v PDWL [2020] FCA 1354 (23 September 2020), excerpts from judgment of 23 September 2020:


Ground 1 of the Amended Originating Application has been upheld. Notwithstanding the agreement between the parties to the Tribunal proceeding, the Tribunal erred in acting upon the agreement between the parties that the decision in BAL19 required it “to set aside the ... delegate’s decision” and that “[the] only question” to be resolved was the form of the “further order” to be made under s 43(1)(c) of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act.

Although the Tribunal quite properly acted upon the agreement of the parties that it was bound by BAL19, the fact remains that the Tribunal failed to give any consideration to a matter of fundamental importance to a decision as to whether to grant or refuse a protection visa – namely, the discretion conferred by s 501(1). In failing to do so, the Tribunal committed jurisdictional error.

The second Ground of review, it has tentatively been concluded has some merit.

Even if both Grounds of review were made out, however, relief should be refused in the exercise of the Court’s discretion. The Minister cannot place himself above the law and, at the same time, necessarily expect that this Court will grant discretionary relief. The Minister has acted unlawfully. His actions have unlawfully deprived a person of his liberty. His conduct exposes him to both civil and potentially criminal sanctions, not limited to a proceeding for contempt. In the absence of explanation, the Minister has engaged in conduct which can only be described as criminal. He has intentionally and without lawful authority been responsible for depriving a person of his liberty. Whether or not further proceedings are to be instituted is not a matter of present concern. The duty Judge in the present proceeding was quite correct to describe the Minister’s conduct as “disgraceful”. Such conduct by this particular Minister is, regrettably, not unprecedented: AFX17 v Minister for Home Affairs (No 4) [2020] FCA 926 at [8] to [9] per Flick J. Any deference to decisions made by Ministers by reason of their accountability to Parliament and ultimately the electorate assumes but little relevance in the present case. Ministerial “responsibility”, with respect, cannot embrace unlawful conduct intentionally engaged in by a Minister who seeks to place himself above the law. Although unlawful conduct on the part of a litigant does not necessarily dictate the refusal of relief, on the facts of the present case the Minister’s conduct warrants the refusal of relief.

It is finally concluded that there should be no order for costs. Although PDWL has succeeded in retaining the visa granted to him, that result follows not from the lack of success on the part of the Minister in establishing jurisdictional error but rather from the discretionary refusal of relief.


The Amended Originating Application filed on 20 July 2020 is dismissed.
There is no order as to costs. [my yellow highlighting]

Alan Tudge should resign from the Australian Parliament with immediate effect.

However, it is highly likely he will refuse any call to do so and instead appeal this judgment.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Australian federal & state governments are preparing to exploit large gas resources that are still in the ground

The fossil gas industry in Australia tripled production from 1990 to 2010 and then from 2010 to 2019 production tripled again. Nearly all of the new production was exported. Australia has become the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG) and one of the world’s biggest gas producers. Australia’s gas and coal exports make Australia’s the third largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world, after Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Over the decade to 2018 Australia was responsible for most of the growth in LNG, and a third of the growth over the last 20 years, more than any other country Australia’s share of global gas production soared in recent years, even as its share of global proven gas reserves levelled out.

Australian Government publications list 22 new gas production and export proposals across Australia with an estimated gas production capacity of 3,368 PJ pa. Governments and companies are preparing to exploit further gas resources in the ground that are larger still.

Despite calls for decarbonisation be central to the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the Australia government is proposing policies and subsidies for what it calls a “gas fired recovery”. From an economic and employment perspective, this makes little sense. There are many low cost ways to reduce gas consumption, and the industry, despite its size, employs few Australians. Expanding fossil gas production also threatens to release large amounts of greenhouse gases.

Burning fossil gas releases carbon dioxide (CO2). In addition, extracting, processing transporting and exporting fossil gas is also highly emissions intensive, and already responsible for more than 10% of current Australian emissions, on official government data. A large portion of these emissions come from gas burned by LNG facilities.
Australian LNG facilities burn around nine percent of all gas they receive to help liquify the remaining gas for export. Gas consumption in LNG facilities is double the size of whats consumed by Australian households and about as large as what is consumed by Australian manufacturing.

Another major climate impact is ‘fugitive’ emissions from flaring, venting and leakage. The true impact of these emissions is larger than officially reported. Fossil gas is made up mostly of methane, itself a greenhouse gas with much greater heat trapping potential than CO2. While methane is more powerful than CO2 over a 100 year timeframe, which is the conventional basis for comparison, methane traps far more heat over the nearer-term (a 20 years horizon). A small amount of methane loss greatly increases the climate impact of fossil gas.

Many recent studies show rates of methane loss much higher than the Australian government’s official figures, especially in unconventional gas production, such as coal seam and shale gas where techniques like hydraulic fracturing are required. Methane loss at rates observed in recent studies of large US shale gas fields range from 2.3% to 3.7%, at the higher end delivering a near-term climate impact equivalent to doubling the emissions of the burnt gas. Reducing and avoiding the release of methane emissions is essential to meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals.

There are 22 major new gas projects proposed by companies and listed by the Australian Government’s Office of the Chief Economist. The analysis here converts the supply capacity into common units for comparison and aggregation. The proposed projects are spread across the country and are of various sizes, types and stages. The largest projects are offshore fields designed for gas export, especially off Western Australia’s coast. The single largest project, Woodside’s Browse / Burrup Hub Extension, would involve piping gas from a large new gas field nearly 1000km through new undersea pipelines to an onshore facility for export…...

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese invites Australian voters to "Tell Morrison to fix aged care"

A 31 August 2020 email Opposition Leader and Labor MP for  Anthony Albanese is sending out:

Tell the Morrison Government to fix aged care

Neglect. That’s the legacy of the Morrison Government when it comes to aged care.

People with open sores left unattended. A woman with ants crawling from her open wounds. Aged care residents left hungry, alone in their rooms.

Our most vulnerable Australians are dying without their family by their sides.

You’d think the Government’s response would be to take responsibility?

You’d think the Minister would stick around to answer questions?

But no.

All we see from the Morrison Government is running away, passing the buck, and refusing interviews.

The Morrison Government has no plan to fix the aged care system.

But we do. We want the Government to take these eight steps.
  1. Minimum staffing levels in residential aged care
  2. Reduce the home care package waiting list so more people can stay in their homes for longer
  3. Ensure transparency and accountability of funding to support high quality care
  4. Independent measurement and public reporting as recommended by the Royal Commission this week
  5. Ensure every residential aged care facility has adequate personal protective equipment
  6. Better training for staff, including on infection control
  7. A better surge workforce strategy
  8. Provide additional resources so the Aged Care Royal Commission can inquire specifically into COVID-19 across the sector while not impacting or delaying the handing down of the final report

The problems in aged care were around long before the coronavirus. The pandemic has been like an x-ray. It’s shown us what was broken.

Older Australians built this country ­– and they deserve so much better than this.

Thanks and stay safe,

Anthony Albanese

Australian Labor Party 
Authorised by P. Erickson, ALP, Canberra.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Morrison & Co called out for victim blaming

Chief economist at The Australia Institute, Richard Denniss, on the subject of Coalition economic stories........

The Guardian, 5 August 2020:

Australian economic debate relies more heavily on metaphors than it does on evidence, experience or expertise. While the prime minister, treasurer and self-appointed business leaders drone endlessly about what the economy “needs”, they simply refuse to provide any evidence that they know what they are talking about. For decades the inanity of Australia’s economic debate has been concealed behind the sugar hit of surging world demand for our exports, and surging population growth on house prices and retail profits. But in the deepest recession in modern history, the shallowness of Australia’s economic debate is about to become clear for all to see.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s admission last week that his favourite politicians were Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan was as informative as the fact that my favourite Marvel heroes are Thor and Iron Man. Given that Thatcher oversaw burgeoning unemployment and Reagan doubled the US government’s debt, you can see why our current treasurer might have an affinity for his cold war heroes. But for those of us interested in the Morrison government’s actual plans to get us out of the hole we are in, the treasurer’s last big interview told us even less than his recent “mini-budget” did.

According to Frydenberg, Australia’s economy will shrink by a record 7% in the current quarter. To put that into perspective, the entire 1991 recession saw GDP fall by 1.4% and the 1983 recession, which saw four quarters of contraction in a row, saw GDP fall by “only” 3.8%. For the 60 years we have collected quarterly GDP data, the biggest previous quarterly contraction of GDP was back in June 1974, when the economy contracted by 2%. But apart from drawing inspiration from Thatcher and Reagan, what exactly is the government’s plan to create jobs for the almost million people who are already unemployed, let alone for the many more who are predicted to be unemployed by the end of the year?

In March and April, the Morrison government was more enthusiastic about stimulating the economy than many expected but, by July, it had grown tired of its flirtation with Keynesianism. In his mini-budget, Frydenberg simply turned his back on all that economics has to offer and – at the same press conference where he announced the largest ever decline in GDP – he announced his government would be cutting spending in September this year. The consequences of that decision will be disastrous for the economy and, most likely, for the Coalition.

If private demand and investment is falling (it is) and if foreign demand for our exports, including education and tourism, is collapsing (it is), the only thing that can stop GDP spiralling downwards is a big increase in government spending. That’s not ideology or theory, it’s just maths. GDP is the sum of its parts, and if the private-sector parts are shrinking (they are), virtually every economist agrees it’s a good idea for the government to spend more. Morrison and Frydenberg spent the first half of year pretending to understand and accept this most simple of economic tenets but, as of last week, they have clearly decided to put storytelling ahead of solid evidence.

In explaining why they had to cut government spending on unemployment benefits – and in turn cut the amount of money the unemployed spend in their local shops – the prime minister and treasurer dusted off old anecdotes, unsourced, about unemployed people turning down work because life was “easier”. To be clear, there are currently 13 unemployed people for every job vacancy.

The Coalition love to tell stories about what great economic managers they are, despite ABS data suggesting otherwise. But, of course, in Australia the key to being a “great economic manager” isn’t delivering high rates of economic growth or budget surpluses (neither of which the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments have actually done). On the contrary, the key to being a great economic manager is to tell great stories.

Central to the Coalition’s economic narrative is to take credit for everything good that happens in the economy and shift the blame for anything bad. When unemployment is falling, say it’s because your tax cuts are working to “strengthen” the economy. When unemployment is rising, blame the unemployed and say you need to cut unemployment benefits.

The same applies when telling stories about the budget. When times are good, cut taxes for your friends and, when times are tough, cut spending on those who never vote for you. Likewise, with productivity growth, consumer confidence or private investment. If things are looking up, link it to your tax and welfare cuts, and if things are going badly, blame it on union power and lazy workers.

Conservatives have masterfully implemented the old adage to “never let a crisis go to waste” – successfully blaming the victims of Australia’s economic system for all of its failings, while taking credit for managing all of its successes. But they have never had to tell a story about an economy that shrank 7% in a single quarter, driving unemployment to 10%…… 

Unemployment is about to rise, and the economy is not going to “snap back”. Increased training will not create jobs. Cutting unemployment benefits will not create jobs. Industrial relations reform will not create jobs. The reason that companies are shedding staff is that there aren’t enough customers with enough money, or enough confidence, to buy the things that companies sell. The only thing that will pull Australia out of this nosedive is a big increase in government spending, and the government has just announced it plans to cut spending. Strap yourself in – the storytelling is about to go fantastical as the economy goes very, very quiet.

Friday, 31 July 2020

The Morrison Government was advised to get the priorities straight but refused to listen

It appears Scott Morrison & Co did not listen to this open letter. 

Corresponding authors:

Chris Edmond (
Steven Hamilton (
Richard Holden (
Bruce Preston (

The views expressed are those of the signatories and not necessarily those of their employer.

19 April 2020

Dear Prime Minister and Members of the National Cabinet:

The undersigned economists have witnessed and participated in the public debate about when to relax social-distancing measures in Australia. Some commentators have expressed the view that there is a trade-off between the public health and economic aspects of the crisis. We, as economists, believe this is a false distinction.

We cannot have a functioning economy unless we first comprehensively address the public health crisis. The measures put in place in Australia, at the border and within the states and territories, have reduced the number of new infections. This has put Australia in an enviable position compared to other countries, and we must not squander that success.

We recognise that the measures taken to date have come at a cost to economic activity and jobs, but believe these are far outweighed by the lives saved and the avoided economic damage due to an unmitigated contagion. We believe that strong fiscal measures are a much better way to offset these economic costs than prematurely loosening restrictions.

As has been foreshadowed in your public remarks, our borders will need to remain under tight control for an extended period. It is vital to keep social-distancing measures in place until the number of infections is very low, our testing capacity is expanded well beyond its already comparatively high level, and widespread contact tracing is available.

A second-wave outbreak would be extremely damaging to the economy, in addition to involving tragic and unnecessary loss of life.


On the day this open letter was written the number of active confirmed Covid-19 cases in Australia was falling - averaging 42 cases a day in that week. However, nationally there were still est. 2,306 active & not yet recovered cases of the virus and the death toll had reached 70 people.

By 20 April 2020 national infection growth rate - which needed to be below a factor of 1 if Australia wanted to maintain suppression or eliminate the virus - was recorded as 0.89 representing an average of 11 new cases per day for the last 7 days.

By 2 May 2020 active & not yet recovered cases had fallen to 901 but deaths had risen to 93 people. 

That week Prime Minister Scott Morrison began to push for an easing of COVID-19 public health order restrictions.

However by 20 May Australia was averaging 17 cases per day and the infection growth rate was beginning to climb again. 

Even though the national infection growth rate had been above a factor of 1 since early June, the Morrison Government continued to push for a rolling back of public health order restrictions and castigated those states, industry sectors and workers which it thought were not responding quickly enough to its desire to 'open the economy'.

In varying degrees the states and territories complied. The result?

By 3pm on 8 July 2020, there were 1,293 active & not yet recovered cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 106 deaths.

As of 3 pm on 29 July the national number of active & not yet recovered COVID-19 cases stood at est. 5,787 and known deaths from the virus totalled 176 people. That day the Australian Dept. of Health recorded there has been an average of 385 new cases reported each day over the last week.

It is now Friday 31 July 2020 and the resurgence of COVID-19 infection predicted by those 289 economists last April is underway.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

National Audit Office has criticised the federal government’s poor processes in Murray-Darling water buybacks

The Australian, 17 July 2020:

The National Audit Office has criticised the federal government’s Murray-Darling water buybacks, saying the Department of Agriculture “did not ­develop a framework designed to maximise value for money”. 

In an audit of the department’s water procurement practices, the ANAO found that there was “limited evidence of app­ropriate assessment” to justify the price paid by the federal government to private owners for water to be set aside for environmental purposes. 

Additionally, “the department did not negotiate the price for the water entitlements it purchased in all but one instance”, the audit report found. 

The audit office looked at water purchases worth a total of $190m across nine catchment areas between 2016 and 2019. 

Water for the environment is used to improve the health of ­rivers, wetlands and flood plains. ANU Centre for Water Economics, Environment and Policy director Quentin Grafton said the “most damning indictment” from the ANAO report was the finding that the government, as a result of poor processes, paid too much for the water. 

“Taxpayers’ money has been wasted,” Professor Grafton said. 

The ANAO said that “probity management arrangements were different to those applied to open tenders, and conflict of interest declarations were not clearly documented”. 

Professor Grafton blamed the lack of value for money on the government’s decision to run the buybacks on a limited tender basis, despite the fact it “already had an open tender process that had been working highly effectively for a number of years”. 

The report noted that the ­government had spent $21.5m on ­purchasing water rights from the Warrego River in southwest Queensland and the Lowbidgee flood plain in the Murrum­bidgee wetlands, despite the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office having assessed the water as being of questionable en­vironmental benefit, or as being unreliable.....

Looking back at Scott Morrison in 2019:

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

The Morrison Government's COVIDSafe app has not identified any close contacts of a person infected with coronavirus who had not already been found through manual contact tracing

The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 June 2020:

The federal government's COVIDSafe app has not identified any close contacts of a person infected with coronavirus who had not already been found through manual contact tracing, despite being downloaded by more than 6 million Australians in two months. 

As the number of infections soars in Victoria, Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick said the government was being dishonest about the effectiveness of the app, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison touted as "sunscreen" against major outbreaks and as the key to lifting restrictions..... 

The $2 million app — downloaded more than 6.44 million times and launched amid the height of the pandemic in Australia on April 26 — was built to help assist state and territory contact-tracing teams uncover close contacts of infected COVID-19 cases who may have been within 1.5 metres of them for more than 15 minutes in public places such as restaurants, cafes or shops. 

But testing data provided to the Senate showed its effectiveness, particularly on Apple iPhones, remains an ongoing issue. The testing data, released to the Senate's select committee on COVID-19, shows when an iPhone is locked there remain issues with the app detecting another nearby iPhone user. 

Only 25 to 50 per cent of the time did it work on May 26 in locked iPhone-to-iPhone testing. At launch, it was worse, working only 25 per cent of the time or less for locked iPhone to locked iPhone. When it was running in the background, the app also didn't work well. Issues were also prevalent on Android smartphones, with problems remaining on May 26, especially when the app's testers tried to get iPhones and Androids to share information. 

At the app's launch, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said: "To be effective, users should have the app running in the background when they are coming into contact with others. Your phone does not need to be unlocked for the app to work." 

Labor's government services spokesman Bill Shorten accused the government of being "secretive" about the app's dysfunction. "The current app is clearly not working well enough and the government is being secretive about how often it has actually made a difference," Mr Shorten said..... 

On the app's launch day, 6696 Australians had coronavirus. Since then, a further 926 cases have been identified, many returned travellers. Of the 926, only 40 of those have had the COVIDSafe app and have allowed health officials to look at their close contact data..... 

On Wednesday, Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said his contact tracers had downloaded the app's data 30 times but had not identified anyone who wasn't already uncovered through the manual interview process..... 

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt revealed on Thursday that NSW health officials had downloaded people's contact data from the app 10 times. 

But the NSW Health Department confirmed on Saturday no contacts or cases had been identified using the app.....

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Australian National Audit Office found the federal environment department has been ineffective in managing risks to the environment, that its management of assessments and approvals is not effective, and that it is not managing conflicts of interest in the work it undertakes

The Guardian, June 2020:

The government has failed in its duty to protect the environment in its delivery of Australia’s national conservation laws, a scathing review by the national auditor general has found.

The Australian National Audit Office found the federal environment department has been ineffective in managing risks to the environment, that its management of assessments and approvals is not effective, and that it is not managing conflicts of interest in the work it undertakes.

The report also finds a correlation between funding and staffing cuts to the department and a blow-out in the time it is taking to make decisions, as highlighted by Guardian Australia.

The review, which comes in advance of the interim report on Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, has prompted renewed calls for the establishment of an independent national environmental regulator.

It is the sixth audit of the department’s administration of the EPBC Act.

The report examined how effective the department had been in administering referrals, assessments and approvals under the Act, which is the main decision-making work for developments likely to have a significant impact on nationally significant species and ecosystems.

Despite being subject to multiple reviews, audits and parliamentary inquiries since the commencement of the Act, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s administration of referrals, assessments and approvals of controlled actions under the EPBC Act is not effective,” the report concludes.

Among its findings, the auditor found the department could not demonstrate that the environmental conditions it set for developments were enough to prevent unacceptable risk to Australia’s natural environment.

Of the approvals examined, 79% contained conditions that were noncompliant with procedures or contained clerical or administrative errors, reducing the department’s ability to monitor the condition or achieve the intended environmental outcome.

The report also found that a document the department is required to produce to show how the proposed environmental conditions would produce the desired environmental protections was in most cases not being written.

From a random sample of 29 approvals from 2015 to 2018, the auditor found this document had not been produced in 26 cases.

In further findings, the audit concluded:
  • environmental assessments were not being undertaken in full compliance with procedures and decisions were being overturned in court;
  • the department is failing to keep key documents related to its decisions;
  • the department has been failing to meet statutory timeframes for decisions. This has been markedly the case since 2014-15 when the number of decisions made within legal timeframes dropped from 60% to 5% in 2018-19. This correlated with cuts to staff in the department who could assess development proposals
  • the department is not properly monitoring if developers are meeting their environmental conditions;
  • briefing packages written by the department when assessing environmental management plans for developments did not contain any consideration of other statutory documents under the Act that are supposed to protect threatened species, including recovery plans;
  • the department has not established any guidance or quality control measures for assessing the effectiveness of environmental offsets. It also has not mapped where all of its approved environmental offsets are, meaning they cannot be properly tracked;
  • agricultural clearing is rarely being referred to the department for assessment under national law;
  • potential conflicts of interest are not being managed, despite the existence of sound oversight structures;
  • the average overrun of statutory timeframes for approval decisions in 2018-19 was 116 days.
This report is a scathing indictment of the federal government’s administration of our national environment law and highlights why we need a stronger law and a new independent regulator,” said James Trezise, a policy analyst at the Australian Conservation Foundation....

In advance of the interim report, due next week, the government has expressed a desire to streamline approvals and cut so-called “green tape”.

But environment groups said the audit confirmed Australia’s laws were “fundamentally broken”.

The Wilderness Society’s Suzanne Milthorpe said the findings showed a “catastrophic failure” to administer the law and protect the environment.

This report shows that the natural and cultural heritage that is core to Australia’s identity is being put at severe risk by the government’s unwillingness to fix problems they’ve been warned about for years,” she said.

It shows that even when the department is aware of high risks of environmental wrongdoing, like with deforestation from agricultural expansion, they are unwilling to act.

The Morrison government announced last week that they want to load this failed system up even further by slashing approval times in the name of slashing ‘green tape’. But this audit shows that the current system is not capable of making good decisions, let alone quick ones.”....


Referrals, Assessments and Approvals of Controlled Actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 [the ANAO audit] can be found at

Sunday, 7 June 2020

And the bad news concerning Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government rorting just keeps coming

The New Daily, 1 June 2020:

I was wrong. The Community Development Grants program isn’t the Coalition’s hot $1.126 billion political rort – it’s the Coalition’s hot $2.5 billion-plus political rort.

It’s not 11 times bigger than #sportsrorts, it’s 25 times bigger and counting.

The government has a number of corrupt slush funds, but none more blatantly designed to buy votes with taxpayers’ money than the CDG scheme purpose built in 2014.

As reported last week, analysis of the government’s GrantConnect website showed Coalition seats “luckily” scored 75.5 per cent of last year’s CDG money, while Labor seats managed just 19.9 per cent.

Of the 68 federal seats Labor now holds, 22 have never received a cent in CDGs while those that did score well tend to be of particular political interest or history.

And the Coalition has quietly arranged to keep this particularly rich pork barrel rolling for another six years.

As Michael West Media has posed, why buy one election when you can buy three?

Billions of dollars in corrupt pork barrelling can seem a little abstract, so using Vince O’Grady’s spreadsheet analysis, I’ve chosen an example of a frontline seat and those that adjoin it to demonstrate how much an Australian Electoral Commission boundary costs or benefits communities.

The Labor-held seat of Hunter in regional New South Wales abuts three National seats to its west and north.

It is a particularly rich green line that separates Hunter from the Nationals’ Calare, Lyne and New England.

Since the Coalition invented CDGs in 2014 through to and including the 2019 election year, only $108,000 in CDGs show up on the GrantConnect site for the good folk of Hunter.
Source: AEC map; TND graphic

..CDGs are not supposed to be purely regional grants – some of the biggest winners are rich Liberal-held city seats – but it is the National Party that has done by far the best out of the way this barrel has rolled.

In 2019, the 68 Labor seats averaged $836,000 in CDGs, Liberal seats $2.086 million, LNP seats in Queensland $2.473 million – and the 10 National Party seats scored an average of $6.712 million.

That contrast is stark on the ground……

As previously reported, the CDG process was designed by the newly elected Abbott government to avoid any embarrassing involvement of public servants in divvying up the spoils, as subsequently happened with the McKenzie/Morrison #sportsrorts scandal, and the $100 million environment grants program that was also conveniently established before the 2019 election.

Read full article here.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Like most political bullies 'Scotty From Marketing' Morrison runs away when he is publicly caught out

Crikey inq, 1 June 2020

Crikey inq, 1 June 2020: 

It’s been a while since Australian politics saw an act as gutless as Scott Morrison’s on Friday. 

Mere minutes after the prime minister finished another of his interminable post-national cabinet monologues and walked away from journalists, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert issued a media release revealing one of the most expensive backflips in Commonwealth history. The government would repay at least $720 million in fake debts it had “raised” against welfare recipients under the now discredited robodebt scheme. 

 At a media conference conveniently on the Gold Coast, rather than before the same journalists Morrison had just walked out on, Robert tried to claim he’d moved quickly to address the scheme’s flaws: “the information presented to me saw a change in November, I acted swiftly on behalf of the government to pause debt recovery and to refine the system.” 

Robert refused to apologise to the 373,000 victims (at a minimum) of the scheme. Christian Porter, appearing on the ABC yesterday, also refused to apologise. Both at least fronted the cameras. 

Scott Morrison ran away. 


This was Scott Morrison’s scheme, one he — the former social services minister — proudly boasted about as treasurer in the 2016 election campaign, claiming it would pump billions into the budget bottom line. 

Now it’s fodder for a Friday afternoon garbage dump, with junior ministers sent out to publicly eat the shit sandwich. 

It’s unlikely the scheme will ever generate a single cent of additional revenue, given the repayment, the likely compensation, the legal costs associated with a number of cases, and the extraordinary costs of implementing the supposedly automated scheme, including the siccing of debt collectors onto innocent welfare recipients. 

Morrison and his colleagues, and the Social Services public servants who devised and implemented the scheme, will be hoping to avoid accountability for the debacle, which goes back to a single fact: there was always a serious question mark over the legality of the mechanism at the heart of robodebt, income averaging. 

The government gave up pretending income averaging was lawful last November, just before settling the case brought by Deanna Amato in the Federal Court. 

Robert is trying to pretend that that was when the penny dropped about income averaging, and the government is refusing to say how long it knew about the lack of a legal basis for its flagship savings measure. 

As is now well documented, however, the lack of a lawful basis was clear from early on. 

Social security law expert Matthew Butt raised serious questions about the legality of income averaging in early 2017, noting the limitations on its use under legislation and that Human Services’ own guidelines recommend that averaging be used selectively. 

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) member Terry Carney found that there was no legal basis for the debts raised at the same time, in decisions the government declined to appeal. The government instead dumped Carney from the tribunal while it stacked it with former Coalition MPs, staffers and party members. ....

Why did public servants prepare and implement a scheme they knew had a strong chance of being found unlawful? Was legal advice sought? Or did Social Services, like the Department of Health in the sports rorts scandal, refuse to obtain legal advice it knew would show there was no legal basis for the proposed actions? 

The financial cost of the debacle is only one aspect. Robodebt needlessly inflicted misery and anxiety of hundreds of thousands of Australians. The number of suicides caused by the receipt of automatically generated debt letters is unlikely to ever be known. 

Throughout, the bureaucrats involved have sought to stymie or evade accountability. In the most recent round of Senate estimates hearings, departmental officials like Social Services secretary Kathryn Campbell refused to provide basic information, like the number of victims of income averaging, to a Senate committee. 

Similar obfuscation is likely to be used against attempts by the Senate to establish the crucial issue of how much Social Services knew about the unlawfulness of income averaging when the scheme was crafted in 2015, what advice was sought and what was communicated to the minister.....

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

From the moment then Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott became Australia's prime minister the National Broadband Network became one enormous rolling disaster

This is what est. $50 billion dollar spend of taxpayer money by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has delivered in rural and regional Australia.....

Clarence Valley Independent, 21 May 2020:

As far as stories about inept management go, the bungled provision of National Broadband Network (NBN) services for the residents of Woombah features a tangled web of politics, bureaucracy, obfuscation and buck passing. 

Seven years after the process began; a recent survey conducted by the Woombah Residents Association has revealed that 60 per cent of the village’s residents are still unable to connect to the NBN. 

The association has written to Page MP Kevin Hogan, Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Mc Cormack expressing their dissatisfaction. 

The COVID-19 lockdown has served to amplify the problem, with one frustrated couple, Robin and Einion Thomas, writing to Mr Hogan: “After contacting your office my email was sent to [NBN Co’s regional manager] Ian Scott. 

“He phoned me and suggested, as we had been unable to connect to the fixed wireless tower, a satellite service would be a good option, [however], a 300Mb plan I saw was for $200 per month. 

“It was also suggested we keep our ADSL line, as satellite is limited and ADSL would be needed if we wanted to do streaming, video conferencing and working with cloud-based services. 

“…Right now [the ADSL] is struggling and this is putting additional pressures on us in our home-based working environment. 

 “Neither of the suggestions made by Ian [is] workable, acceptable or affordable to us.” 

The saga began in April 2013 when Woombah residents were informed that a 40 metre high fixed wireless (NBN) tower was going to be erected at 97 West Street – within weeks a group of residents known as the Woombah Tower Action Group (WTAG), began lobbying to prevent its construction. 

The tower was erected in December 2013 and was commissioned in March 2015. 

As it turned out WTAG’s failed campaign was on the money when it was revealed that fewer than two in ten residences were covered by the tower’s broadcast footprint. 

One of the group’s members, Dane Webb, wrote to Page MP Kevin Hogan, declaring at the time: “This has to go down in history as one of the most ridiculous exercises ever, as it [the tower’s service area] covers – wait for it – TWO complete streets and a few partial streets.” (‘NBN tower fails to deliver’, Clarence Valley Review, March 23, 2015).... 

A panacea to the problem appeared to be close in March/April 2019 when NBN Co’s regional manager, Ian Scott, advised the Woombah Residents Association that two towers – one at Mororo and another at Palmers Island – would provide NBN services to Woombah residents. 

However, according to residents, things have not improved since the towers were commissioned. 

On May 12 the residents association wrote in its media release and/or correspondence: “Despite the huge expense involved in building these additional towers fewer than 40 per cent of our community members can successfully access the NBN fixed wireless internet. 

“Woombah has a population of approximately 1,000 residents and is dependent on tourism, farming and fishing. “It is the second fastest growing community in the Clarence. 

“The population is set to expand over the next year with the development of 147 new homes in a caravan park in the village. 

“…We note that a recent media release from [Communications Minister Paul Fletcher’s] office stated: ‘The importance of fast, affordable broadband delivered quickly has never been clearer than during the current COVID-19 pandemic (27/4/2020).’ 

“We agree wholeheartedly with your statement and would like to draw your attention to the problems we in Woombah face connecting to the NBN.”

According to finder on 21 May 2020, by the end of June 2020 it is expected that:

By the end of the rollout, roughly 40% of premises will be connected via Fibre to the Node or Fibre to the Basement (also known as Fibre to the Building) – the vast majority of these will be Fibre to the Node. 

Fibre to the Node connections still rely on the copper phone lines to cover the last few hundred metres, while Fibre to the Basement runs copper into the basement of multi-dwelling buildings and relies on the building's copper wiring. 

Meanwhile, around 12% will be dependent on Fibre to the Curb, reliant on much shorter copper runs, while 19% will be lucky enough to have Fibre to the Premises running all the way into their home. 

That leaves 21% using the HFC (hybrid fiber-coaxial) cable networks, 5% on fixed-wireless and 3% on SkyMuster satellite.

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, Broadband Performance Data, May 2020: