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

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Kevin Hogan still pretending he went to the May 2019 federal election as an Independent now surfaces as the Nationals MP he always was


MP for Page Kevin Hogan while remaining a member of the parliamentary National Party of Australia, while still the Party's Whip in the House of Representatives and the Liberal-Nationals Coaltion Government's Deputy Speaker, attempted for over 8 months to pass himself off as an Independent sitting on the cross benches.

During those 8 months Hogan routinely voted with his government.

He used this political deceit in order to hold on to his chance for re-election on 18 May 2019, when he like many other government MPs and Senators thought it was likely that they would lose government.

Of course ahead of the federal election being declared he still sought and received National Party preselection as its candidate in the seat of Page.

The Murdoch media assisted this deceit by referring to him as sitting on the cross benches.

Now that the Coalition has been returned to government at the recent election and is preparing to sit on the right hand benches of the 46th Parliament, Hogan has finally abandoned his pretence and announced that voilĂ ! he is a National Party MP once more and will sit once more on the government benches.

Government benches which in fact he was mostly found on even when pretending to be a cross bencher.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Trouble with Water: National Party conflicts of interest and the rising odour of corruption



The Saturday Paper, 27 April 2019:

Former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty is examining links between political donations and the issuing and buyback of agricultural water licences, amid concerns that undeclared conflicts of interest could be fuelling corruption.

Keelty told The Saturday Paper this week he is concerned about the extent of undeclared conflicts of interest among politicians, lobby groups and businesses operating in the water market.

“I’m interested to see how conflicted politicians are declaring their conflicts of interest when decisions are made about water policy,” he said.

“Where you get those conflicts of interest and they’re not addressed, that’s ripe for corruption.”

His comments come as the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder confirmed to The Saturday Paper that two contentious water licences for which the federal government paid $79 million have returned next to no water to the environment since they were purchased two years ago.

Keelty is conducting inquiries in his capacity as the Northern Basin commissioner for the Murray–Darling Basin, a position to which the federal agriculture minister, David Littleproud, appointed him in August last year with the support of the Labor opposition.

On the issue of water licences, he draws a direct comparison with the management of development applications by local government, where conflicts of interest are required to be declared.

“We’re not seeing it in water, and it should be there,” he said.

Keelty, who was also the inaugural chair of the Australian Crime Commission, is not categorical about what exposing such conflicts might reveal, though he suggests they are widespread.

“I’m not saying it’s corruption; I’m saying it’s conflict of interest,” he said. “But you could draw a conclusion that if conflicts of interest aren’t transparent, it could lead to corruption … Water is now the value of gold. If you have corruption in other elements of society, if you have corruption in other areas of business, why wouldn’t you have it here, when water is the same price as gold?”

“IT IS NOT AS TRANSPARENT AS I FIRST THOUGHT AND IT IS MUDDIED BY IN-KIND DONATIONS AND THIRD-PARTY COMPANIES OR ENTITIES THAT ARE CREATED TO OBSCURE WHO THE REAL DONORS ARE.”

Over the past decade, Keelty has undertaken inquiries and investigations for various governments on issues relating to integrity in government policy, especially in emergency management.

Now turning his attention to the struggling river system, he is aiming to improve transparency in the management of the northern Murray–Darling Basin, which has a far worse compliance record than the river system’s southern half.

His task is to ensure that water gets back to the river system where it is needed and that those who rely on this water, and should have rights for its use, are not being ripped off, especially disenfranchised Indigenous communities and others living downstream.

Keelty argues that excessive numbers of water licences have been issued – sometimes on questionable grounds – and are seriously damaging the river.

“When you look at it strategically, there are too many licences having been allocated for the amount of water that is available,” he told The Saturday Paper.

“Nobody is addressing that, that I can see.”

Keelty also believes the system is too dependent on property owners acting within the law and reporting their own activities.

“The system relies on honesty and integrity but if you look at the number of prosecutions and infringement notices issued in New South Wales in the last 12 months, the pillar of honesty doesn’t appear to be that strong,” he said.

“I can understand the suspicion and the frustration in the southern basin states because they are directly impacted by the efficiency of the systems in the northern basin.”

Keelty is currently examining the Australian Electoral Commission records of political donations, checking links between donors, decision-makers and recipients of water licences or sales contracts.

“Clearly the National Party is probably, I guess, a glaring example of where politicians could be conflicted because their constituency are the very people who are using the water and the very people who are lobbying about water policy,” he said.

But he is examining links to other parties as well. “It’s not just the National Party. Different governments will make decisions about water policy that presumably benefit their state and their constituents.”

Keelty has concerns about the system of political donations more broadly.

“It is not as transparent as I first thought and it is muddied by in-kind donations and third-party companies or entities that are created to obscure who the real donors are,” he said. “I’ve found it more difficult and less transparent than what most of us probably think it is.”

The former police chief is also arguing for proceeds-of-crime legislation to be more clearly linked to offences in the water market because he believes the risk of losing a farming property would be a significant deterrent.

“Where you can prosecute criminal charges for offending, it makes sense to have parallel action in proceeds of crime because that will have more of an impact than perhaps some of the civil charges that are being used to remedy the situation to date,” he said.

Read the full article here

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The Trouble With Water: 'ghost' water begins to haunt the Liberal-Nationals election campaign


It is well understood and agreed that water in the Murray-Darling Basin has been overallocated and extracted at rates that are unsustainable.” [The Australia Institute, February 2018]


"Kia Ora" reportedly totals 18,841 hectares and has water entitlements of 36,705 megalitres, while "Clyde" is said to total 18,743 hectares with water entitlements of 30,289 megalitres.

EAA also appears to hold Queensland water licences which allows it to harvest overland flows/flood waters from both properties.

Questions have arisen with regard to the sale of some of this water.......

At various times prior to entering federal parliament in September 2013 Liberal MP for Hume and Australian Minister for Energy Angus Taylor was reportedly a co-founder and director of Eastern Australia Irrigation, a director of and company secretary for Eastern Australia Agriculture and was also a paid consultant for EAA.

The Minister for Energy Angus Taylor, former deputy-prime minister and federal agriculture and water resources minister, the current National Party MP for New England Barnaby Joyce, and the federal Dept. of Agriculture and Water Resources have all issued statements taking issue with concerns being expressed over this particular water sale and denying any wrong doing. Both ministers have threatened legal action for defamation.

The Queensland Government denies being party to this water sale.

The Morrison Government is now facing calls for an inquiry into the Murray-Darling plan water contracts signed off by former minister Joyce.

BACKGROUND

Ghost Water – licences for unreliable/unverifiable amounts of temporary water sold to government for use as environmental flow water.

Overland flow is “water that runs across the land after rainfall, either before it enters a watercourse, after it leaves a watercourse as floodwater, or after it rises to the surface naturally from underground…..You can take overland flow for any purpose unless there is a moratorium notice or a water plan that limits what can be taken.”  [Qld Government, Business Queensland. January 2019]

Applications can be made for a water licence for the capture of overland flow water.

A water licence is an entitlement to take water which is attached to land therefore, unlike a water allocation, it is not an asset in its own right. Water licences cannot normally be sold independent of land unless there are management rules in place which allow permanent transfers (relocations) to occur…..The relocation of a water licence enables a licensee to transfer ownership of the entitlement, permanently moving the licence from the land to which it is attached, to another parcel of land within the confines of the rules. This process differs from permanent water allocation trading whereby water allocations are traded independently of land titles and have their own registrable title (i.e. water can be held by someone who does not own land). [Qld Government, Business Queensland. February 2019]

At the time of the water sales EAA has 7 harvesting licences, of which 4 were for water extraction from the Balonne and Narran rivers, 2 were for collection of overland flow waters and 1 was for irrigation water draw on the Beardmore Dam.

Unsolicited offer by EAA to sell overflow water at 
https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22publications%2Ftabledpapers%2F59682649-2fa2-43b1-955f-ae16caecef45%22.

Austender records of three EAA water sales to the Dept. of Agriculture and Water Resources - the first by transparent open tender and the remaining to by non-transparent limited tender:




At the time of the first water sale (1,980ML at est. $2,175 per megalitre) Barnaby Joyce was an elected senator on the Opposition benchs and Labor's Tony Burke was federal water minister, at the time of the second and third sales (totalling 27,960ML at $2,745 per megalitre) Joyce was the Australian Deputy Prime Minister as well as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. 

The first sale under the Labour Government was a result of an open competitive tender, the second and third sales were by unadvertised limited tender which excluded a competitive tender process.

NOTE: In 2008 it appears that EAA sold 10,433ML from its water storage to the Murray-Darling Basin Commission for an unknown amount.

The Australia Institute, March 2018, "That's not how you haggle....Commonwealth water purchasing in the Condamine Balonne", excerpt:

EAAs original asking price was $2,200 per megalitre. DAWR displayed Pythonesque haggling skills and paid a final price of $2,745 per megalitre. DAWR paid 25% more per megalitre than originally requested by EAA, 139% higher than the Commonwealth had previously paid for the same type of licence and 85% higher than the average price for a more reliable type of water licence. The megalitre price was inflated because it included the cost of a storage that the vendor originally offered to transfer to the Commonwealth, but that offer was later withdrawn, without adjusting the price. The storage was used as a justification of the sale, but not as a condition of the sale.

The water purchased was for Over Land Flow (OLF) licences, which cannot be traded between irrigators, because they are attached to land. They have no legal status or any recognition at a location other than where they were originally purchased. That is, there appears to be no legal basis for the Commonwealth to ensure it gets to the places it is intended to be used.

 Austaxpolicy, 28 September 2018, excerpt:

First, tax havens siphon taxable profits away from jurisdictions like Australia. This means either increasing the tax burden on individuals and businesses, taking on more debt, or cutting social services.

These shenanigans are not always illegal. But what is legal is not always moral or economically sound. Australia’s fiscal foundations are threatened by the erosion of the tax base by tricky tax tactics.

Aggressive tax planning can erode public confidence in the tax system itself. After all, one reason most of us pay the taxes we owe is that we believe we live in a society where our fellow citizens do the same.

A fascinating new dataset released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics helps shed light on this problem. Across multinational firms operating in Australia, the bureau reports their operating profit and their taxable profit. What is unique about these data is that they are reported for firms with majority owners in different countries. So it is possible to compare across countries, and ask the question: which nation’s firms have the biggest gap between operating profits and taxable profits?

For the typical Australian firm, the gap between operating profits and taxable profits is 30 percent. The figure is pretty similar for multinationals whose owners reside in the United States (28.4 percent), United Kingdom (26.6 percent) and Japan (28.5 percent).

But for some nations, it’s a different story. If you’re a Bermuda-owned multinational operating in Australia, then on average the gap between operating profit and taxable profit is 88 percent. If you’re a British Virgin Islands owned multinational, the reduction is 92 percent.[3]

So if you start with ten dollars of operating profit, then Australian firms report about seven dollars of taxable profits. The same is true for American, British and Japanese-based multinationals – ten dollars of operating profit produces seven dollars of taxable profit.

But for firms based in Bermuda or the Virgin Islands, and operating in Australia, ten dollars of operating profit produces just one dollar of taxable profit. That’s a startling difference……..

Second, tax havens are the hiding ground..... 

Gabriel Zucman, an economist at University of California, Berkley, estimates that around four-fifths of money in offshore bank accounts is there in breach of other countries’ tax laws.[4] .......

A recent study in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution found there are even egregious environmental vandals there too. Following the Panama Papers, the study found seventy percent of fishing vessels implicated in illegal, unreported and unregulated catches had been registered in Belize, Panama, or other tax havens at some point. [5]

Third, tax havens increase inequality. Offshore wealth held by Australians in tax havens was approximately 6 per cent of GDP, according to Zucman’s work in 2013. In today’s prices, that would mean over $100 billion in assets held offshore by wealthy Australians. [6]..........

Cayman Islands corporate tax rates appears to be zero.


Michaelwest.com.au, 21 April 2019:


During December 2016, the Tax Office required Eastern Australia Agriculture to enter into a Settlement Deed to reduce the interest charged by EAI on convertible notes issued by EAA.

The interest charges were required to be reduced from June 2011 when Taylor was still a director of EAI. The total amount of excessive interest charges was $14 million.


This from EAA’s 2016 annual report:


“Forgiveness of interest expense – parent entity


“Following a review by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the company entered into a Settlement Deed with the ATO on 9 December 2016 and the parent entity agreed to reduce the interest rate on the convertible note from 12 per cent to an average interest rate of 7.97 per cent effective from 29 June 2011, resulting in a forgiveness of interest expense accrued in 2016 and prior years."

The higher the interest rate charged by the parent, the more money flows from Australia to the Caribbean. In the parlance of the tax fraternity, this practice of charging excessive interest rates, in order to maximise the interest payments out of Australia to a tax haven, is called “debt-loading”.

By 2016, Angus Taylor was no longer a director of EAI. He had stepped down from the board of the Cayman Islands company in 2013, the year he entered Parliament. He was a director however when the financing arrangement was established.

London Stock Exchange, EF Realisation Company Limited (EFR) Annual Financial Report, released 22 January 2018, excerpt:

Compulsory Redemption Mechanism

EF Realisation monetised various portfolio assets between February and August 2017 which, in aggregate,  comprised approximately 24% of the NAV as at 30 September 2017. The total net proceeds raised were approximately £4.36 million, made up of £4.26 million in realised proceeds (including £0.1 million from a corporate action involving the Company's holding in Energy Future Holdings) and £0.1 million of investment income (net of expenses). The Company realised its investment in Menhaden Capital plc in February 2017 which raised £1.2 million, equal to 2.3p per Ordinary Share. EF Realisation sold a bond holding in Integradoro de Servicios Petroleros Oro Negro SAPI de CV ("Oro Negro") which raised approximately £0.5m, and it received approximately £2.5 million from Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited which had sold certain of its water entitlements to the Australian Government and distributed a majority of the proceeds to its shareholders, including EF Realisation. On 4 September 2017, the Company announced its intention to implement the Company's first capital distribution, returning £3.0 million to Shareholders of the approximately £4.36 million in total net proceeds; the balance of the net proceeds from asset realisations was retained for working capital purposes…..
All the other investments in EF Realisation are unlisted and valued by the Directors at their estimated realisation values and, with one exception, changes in these valuations have been small. The exception is an upgrade to the valuation of the Company's minority shareholding in Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited following that company's sale of water rights to the Australian Government authorities in August 2017 and the expectations for the amount of proceeds that can now be realised from the sale of its farms…..

Eastern Australia Irrigation Limited ("EAI") is an Australian based company which owns and operates two farms in Queensland, whose main crop is cotton, along with various water extraction rights from the Murray Darling River Basin. During the summer of 2017, Australian Government authorities approached EAI with an offer to acquire some of its water entitlements. EAI was able to negotiate the price for the water entitlements to the highest level ever paid, and in August 2017 it completed the largest ever sale of water entitlements in the Murray Darling River Basin. EF Realisation owns 9.6% of EAI's shares and, along with other holders, supported the sale of the water rights. EAI used the majority of the sale proceeds to return capital to its shareholders, and passed £2.5 million to EF Realisation. This represented a gain on that part of the EAI holding of £0.34 million or 16.0%. We comment below on the plans to dispose of EAI's farms……

EAI was in the process of selling its farms prior to the sale of water rights. Proceeds received for the sale of water rights were attractive compared to the offers received in the farm sale process so the farm sale process was suspended in order to complete negotiations with the Australian Government authorities over the sale of water rights.  EAI has now resumed the farm sale process with the intention of using sale proceeds to repay debt and redeem its shares. Having sold some of the water rights, the effective size of the irrigable land that can be used for cotton farming has been reduced by approximately one-third and it is expected that this, and the decision to sell the farms separately rather than as a package as last summer, will make the farms attractive to a broader range of potential buyers. Cotton prices are supported by low crop harvests in cotton growing regions outside Australia and, at the time of writing, local rainfall on EAI's farms has prevented a return of drought conditions. However, until binding bids are received for the farms, the timing for EF Realisation to redeem or sell its shareholding in EAI and the proceeds from such a redemption or sale are uncertain.

EF Realisation carries its remaining investment in EAI at a conservative estimate of the proceeds that would be received assuming EAI's farms are sold and its shares are redeemed. In particular, the implied valuation of the farms is less than the value of the farms used to secure EAI's loan from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, a valuation point that has been a floor for proceeds in farm sales. [my yellow highlighting]

In the 2012-13 financial year Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Limited made a political donation of $20,000 to the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW) and on 29 August 2013 the company made a second political donation of $35,000.

After the September 2013 federal election Barnaby Joyce became the Minister for Agriculture and in September 2015 Water Resources was added to his ministerial portfolio.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Another Liberal Minister caught out not passing the ‘pub’ test


The Canberra Times, 18 February 2019:  
      
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann's flights for a family holiday to Singapore were paid for by a travel company controlled by Liberal Party Treasurer Andrew Burnes within weeks of that company winning a $1 billion contract from Cormann's department.

Helloworld, a listed company of which Mr Burnes is the chief executive, booked the flights for Senator Cormann, his wife and two children on the company's "staff and family travel" account.

Records kept by Helloworld and obtained by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald reveal that the Melbourne-based travel company paid $2780.82 for the Singapore flights, which were booked in July 2017.

Helloworld announced the following month that its subsidiary, AOT, was the winner of the three-year-plus, $300 million per year finance department tender. Departmental sources claim Helloworld had achieved preferred tenderer status before Senator Cormann's flights were booked in July.

Senator Cormann and his family took the trip in early January, 2018.
The minister only paid for the return flights to Singapore from Perth on Monday afternoon, after Mr Burnes and Senator Cormann were contacted by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.



Finance Minister Mathias Cormann's flights for a family holiday to Singapore were paid for by a travel company controlled by Liberal Party Treasurer Andrew Burnes within weeks of that company winning a $1 billion contract from Cormann's department.

Helloworld, a listed company of which Mr Burnes is the chief executive, booked the flights for Senator Cormann, his wife and two children on the company's "staff and family travel" account.

Records kept by Helloworld and obtained by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald reveal that the Melbourne-based travel company paid $2780.82 for the Singapore flights, which were booked in July 2017.

Helloworld announced the following month that its subsidiary, AOT, was the winner of the three-year-plus, $300 million per year finance department tender. Departmental sources claim Helloworld had achieved preferred tenderer status before Senator Cormann's flights were booked in July.

Senator Cormann and his family took the trip in early January, 2018.

The minister only paid for the return flights to Singapore from Perth on Monday afternoon, after Mr Burnes and Senator Cormann were contacted by The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

Senator Cormann said on Monday he had "no idea" that the travel had been booked on the family and staff travel account, nor that his credit card had not been charged. He was "completely unaware of internal administrative arrangements at Helloworld in terms of how they managed private and personal travel".

Mr Burnes said it was "absolutely an internal administrative oversight" that Senator Cormann’s credit card had not been charged for the trip when it was booked, which allowed the politician and his family to fly for free to Singapore.

Senator Cormann, who is a close personal and political associate of Mr Burnes, a Liberal donor, has never declared the Singapore family holiday on his parliamentary register of interests….

When The Age and Sydney Morning Herald sought comment from Mr Burnes on Monday about why his travel group had booked the Cormann family’s travel, he said: “We sell $6.5 billion worth of travel. So many people use our company to book their travel.”

Sources close to the company said that his personal office had arranged the Perth to Singapore booking after a request from Mr Cormann some time before 17 July 2017.
A Helloworld source said it was “probably inappropriate” that Mr Cormann’s travel was booked via a “family and staff” account.

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald are not accusing Senator Cormann or Mr Burnes of any wrongdoing.

Read the full article here.

UPDATE

It's not just 'friends' who give Cormann trips for free, he has something of a history when it comes to having the taxpayer foot the bill......

Daily Mail, 14 February 2019:

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann charged taxpayers $4,400 to take his wife on a romantic beach getaway on her birthday.

The Liberal senator for Western Australia treated his new spouse Hayley Ross, a lawyer, to a weekend away in a remote resort town known for its beach camel rides on July 9, 2010.

To mark her 28th birthday on a Friday, he arranged for her to fly 2,200km from their home city of Perth to Broome in the far north of his vast state, Department of Finance records show.

This direct flight cost the public purse $1,741 as part of a three-day weekend away to Broome which cost taxpayers $4,397.

It included $221 in charter hire cars to get around Broome on Hayley Ross' birthday, and $118 in Commonwealth car transport to get the couple to and from Perth airport.  
The senator also claimed $676 in travel allowance for two nights' accommodation in Broome as 'electorate business'. 

This romantic weekend away on the public purse took place a year after the senator married Ms Ross, the daughter of West Australian wheat farmers. 

Friday, 21 December 2018

Nationals MP Andrew Broad behaves badly, then sinks into oblivion


Nationals MP for Mallee Andrew John Broad came into the Australian Parliament as part of the Abbott Coalition Government in 2013 and, continued as a backbencher in the Turnbull Coalition Government.

He became Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister in the Morrison Coalition Government on 28 August 2018.

So one could argue that he became a member of the House of Representatives and continued to be one under the leadership of prime ministers not known for a deep understanding of political or personal ethics and, so lacked guidance.

On the other hand one could surmise that his entry into conservative politics was a matter of like being naturally drawn to like. 

Readers can make up their own minds about forty-three year old Andrew "James Bond" Broad, son of Christian missionaries and winner of the 2016 Christian Values Award - a man who allegedly proudly boasted that he knows how to "ride a horse, fly a plane & f*ck my woman".

On 17 December 2018 Broad resigned from the front bench due to the circumstances surrounding this boast and questions concerning who paid his expenses for a Hong Kong trip.



It would appear that a private entity ( perhaps even the man himself) paid for Broad's flight to and from Hong Kong and accommodation, but he was happy to stick taxpayers with the cost of connecting flights in Australia until he was caught out by the mediawining and dining an online escort “Sweet Sophia Rose” while away from his wife.

This was allegedly not the first attempt at online dalliance.

By 18 December Broad was the subject of a barrage of sexual misconduct allegations....with reports at least three other women have complained to the National Party about his behaviour over the past twelve months. 
Before noon that day he had announced he will not be standing for re-election in May 2019.

I rather think Andrew has singlehandedly sunk Prime Minster Scott Morrison's planned values-based election campaign.

If Morrison mentions the values held by himself and his Coalition government voters are likely to openly laugh remembering Andrew and Barnaby.

Friday, 23 November 2018

This was Australia’s faux prime minister Scott Morrison proudly pointing out that he had been fundraising at considerable taxpayer expense


This was Australia’s faux prime minister Scott Morrison proudly pointing out that he had been fundraising at considerable taxpayer expense in order to fill the election campaign coffers of the the Liberal Party of Australia.....

The Courier-Mail, 19 November 2018, p.6:

While he was on the Queensland blitz early this month, Mr Morrison confirmed he attended fundraisers. Many of the donations came from Rockhampton and the Sunshine Coast.

“I’m meeting with supporters all around Queensland and I don’t make any apologies for that,” he said.

“We’re raising funds for our campaign to make sure Bill Shorten never becomes prime minister in the country.” Mr Morrison was the special guest at Liberal National Party fundraising events in several ­regional towns.

Here is what he was not boasting about this month……

The Saturday Paper, 17-23 November 2018:

Seven years before he was sacked as managing director of Tourism Australia – amid serious concerns about his management practices – Scott Morrison was the subject of criticism in a New Zealand audit report examining his activities as head of NZ’s Office of Tourism and Sport.

News.com.au, 14 November 2018:

A 1999 New Zealand Auditor General’s report challenged the future Australian prime minister’s handling of an independent review of the Office of Tourism and Sport (OTSp) where he was managing director.

The OTSp was a quasi-independent body offering policy advice to the New Zealand government and experienced the loss of a number of board members and officials during Mr Morrison’s tenure. He finally resigned from the job in 2000 a year ahead of his contract schedule and returned to Australia….

During Mr Morrison’s time at the helm of OTSp in the 1990s, New Zealand’s then Tourism Minister, Murray McCully, praised his input and defended importing him for the job.

“Australia actually happens to do a bit better than we do out of both tourism and sport,” Mr McCully said at the time.

But the Auditor General and the NZ Labour Opposition questioned his performance.
In New Zealand in 1999, the Auditor General found Mr Morrison had launched a PriceWaterhouseCooper review of OTSp which precluded contributions from senior staff and the board.

He had said the review was independent of them, but it seems they were not aware of this.

“Mr Morrison’s explanation came as a surprise not only to (the office’s CEO and board members) but also to the Minister himself,” the report said.

“These people had regarded the PWC report as the review referred to in the purchase agreement.”

The Auditor General’s report said the board should have been told it had a duty,  under the review arrangements, to commission its own “independent” review.
“It seems that at no point did Mr Morrison do so,” the Auditor General found.

In June 2000, the New Zealand Herald quoted the Labour Opposition’s tourism and sport spokesman Trevor Mallard as blaming Mr Morrison for problems with the OTSp and the minister.

“And a key reason for that was that it was run by Mr Morrison, an Australian who was seen as Mr McCully’s ‘hard man’,” said the report.

“Australian standards of public sector behaviour ‘are lower than ours,’,” added Mr Mallard.

He was quoted as saying: “My experience with Australian politicians is that rules and ethics are not as important to them as they are to New Zealanders.”

Mr Morrison did not respond to the claims but was supported by the Tourism Minister as “highly regarded”.

He had lifted the energy levels and the competence levels substantially above those previously servicing tourism and sport, said Mr McCully.

Australian Labor is closely examining the Prime Minister’s career before he was elected to Parliament in 2007 and the New Zealand experience could be raised.

His next job after New Zealand was as NSW Liberal Party state director but was linked to the party’s 2003 election failure.

Mr Morrison became Tourism Australia managing director in 2004 but left in 2006, again ahead of schedule….

The Saturday Paper, 10-16 November 2018:

Ever since Scott Morrison was sacked from his job as managing director of Tourism Australia in 2006, the reasons for his dismissal have been kept secret.

At the time and since, public speculation has variously attributed the now prime minister’s removal to a personality clash with his minister, a falling out over changes to the organisation’s structure, and a dispute over the agency’s contentious “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign.

But an auditor-general’s report completed 10 years ago, which has escaped public scrutiny until now, reveals that in the period leading up to Morrison’s dismissal, his agency faced a series of audits and a review of its contractual processes ordered by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, amid serious concerns about its governance.

The auditor-general’s inquiry into Tourism Australia – which followed these reviews, and was conducted after Morrison’s departure – reveals information was kept from the board, procurement guidelines breached and private companies engaged on contracts worth $184 million before paperwork was signed and without appropriate value-for-money assessments.

THE AUDIT REPORT OMITS THE NEXT EVENT IN THE CHRONOLOGY OF RELATIONS BETWEEN THE MINISTER AND TOURISM AUSTRALIA – THAT BAILEY SACKED MORRISON THE SAME MONTH.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report examines three major contracts that Tourism Australia signed while Scott Morrison was managing director. It criticises processes in all three cases but especially the contracts for global creative development – advertising campaigns – and media placement services.

Ten years since the audit, and 13 years since the contracts were signed, those two completed contracts appear not to be listed on the government’s AusTender website, where all contracts are required to be available for public viewing.

Searches, including by AusTender staff, have failed to locate them on the site this week. Procurement rules say they must be reported within 42 days of the contracts being entered. The 2005 request-for-tender documents announcing the proposed contracts are listed…..

The audit report criticises extensively the agency’s processes for drafting, executing and managing the contracts, the opaque accounting processes involved in aspects of them and poor communication with the board and regional offices, including by service providers. It details Tourism Australia’s failures at the time to adhere to guidelines – the signing of a contract without incorporating measurable performance indicators and non-existent risk assessments or value-for-money analysis.

Tabled in parliament on August 6, 2008, the report was one of more than 40 the Audit Office had produced in the previous 12 months.

It escaped public attention at least partly because it was not among the handful that parliament’s joint committee on public accounts chose to examine further in its role as chief audit scrutineer. At the time, the committee was chaired by then Labor MP Sharon Grierson with then Liberal MP Petro Georgiou as her deputy.

When the report was tabled, Morrison was a member of the public accounts committee, which was tasked with considering it for review. He resigned from the committee six weeks after the report was tabled and, it is understood, some months before the committee formally considered it. The Saturday Paper does not suggest Morrison influenced the audit’s treatment. Grierson says that as Tourism Australia had accepted its three recommendations, and nobody on the committee raised any issues, the report was not officially examined further – standard procedure in dealing with the volume of audits each year.

The Saturday Paper lodged detailed questions about the audit report with Morrison’s office but was told he was not able to answer them in the time available.

Performance reviews of the two key contracts between 2005 and 2007 – contained in the audit – revealed Tourism Australia had failed to disclose to its own board that it had underspent $3.9 million on one of the contracts in 2006-07.

It was found that in one case invoices had been raised before the contract was signed and that in another case the price paid in some areas of a contract was “more expensive than the benchmark”.

The audit report does not mention then tourism minister Fran Bailey’s sacking of Morrison in July 2006, nor any of the alleged preceding tension between them that has been the subject of public speculation since.

But The Saturday Paper understands the events and issues the audit report outlines played a significant role in Morrison’s removal. Unconfirmed news reports have since alleged that he received a payout of more than $300,000.

Asked to comment this week on the report’s contents in relation to Morrison’s dismissal, Bailey would only repeat the one comment she has made before: “I reiterate that it was a unanimous decision to get rid of Mr Morrison by the board and the minister.”

She added: “I have always treated confidential matters as confidential.”……

Read the full article here.

The Guardian, 18 November 2018:

The Morrison government has extended emergency three-month funding contracts to 16 more financial counselling, legal aid and charity groups to keep them open over the Christmas holiday period after it cut their funding with little warning.

The move was made without fanfare, logged quietly on the Department of Social Services website on Wednesday evening.

It comes as the social services minister, Paul Fletcher, faces continued criticism for his department’s decision to overhaul funding arrangements for key community services groups in the lead-up to Christmas.

In some cases, barely two months’ notice has been given to groups to prepare for dramatic cuts in the new year – a time of year when thousands of Australian families have traditionally needed more emergency assistance and financial counselling.

 On Wednesday evening, the Department of Social Services (DSS) released a document on its website saying it would extend emergency three-month funding contracts – covering the period 1 January 2019 to 31 March 2019 – to 16 organisations that had lost their funding in the latest round of grants:

FMC Relationship Services
EACH
Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited
VincentCare Victoria
Odyssey House, Victoria
Mallee Family Care Inc
Anglicare SA Ltd
Centacare Catholic Country SA Ltd
The Trustee for The Salvation Army (NSW) Property Trust
Southern Youth and Family Services Limited
Vietnamese Community in Australia NSW Chapter Inc
The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (Q.)
C Q Financial Counselling Association Inc.
Prisoners’ Legal Service Inc
Agencies for South West Accommodation Inc.
CentreCare Incorporated

Neither the government nor the department has drawn attention to the funding extensions……