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Tag: Morrison

$55 Billion in grants in Federal Ministerial grants in less than 4 years!

21 April 2022

The Easter Saturday Herald had the story that Ministers have had the ability to give out $55 billion in less than 4 years, $20 billion last year alone!

Clearly this is used as a pork barrel to buy re-election and the public service and proper process has been sidelined by this government, which has set new lows in moral standards.

Morrison, when quizzed, has stated that he could not introduce an ICAC because Labor would not support his model.

There are two things wrong with this argument:

1. When did the government ever need support of the Opposition to introduce legislation?  The main thing wrong with Australian democracy is the ‘winner takes all’ nature of the debate.

2. The model Morrison wanted was so weak that all the activities that people have objected to would not have been able to be investigated, and presumably he would have stacked the toothless tiger with people who would have been hard to remove. 

Labor was quite right to oppose his model, and of course if they put in a functional one and it goes after the rorts of the current government it will be accused of being party political.

And it seems that there is $13.8 billion still to be given out between now and the election according to an article by David Crowe in the SMH of 31/3/22!

Here is the SMH article:

Taxpayers fund $55.6 billion in federal grants over less than four years

By David Crowe

Updated April 16, 2022

Taxpayers have funded $55.6 billion in federal grants over less than four years under rules that give ministers sweeping powers to decide the payments, with new research fuelling an election row over calls to establish a national integrity commission to safeguard public funds.

The findings show the grants reached $20 billion last year alone across federal departments from health to transport and industry, revealing the scale of the payments and sparking a new proposal for tighter rules and stricter oversight to prevent corruption.

The analysis shows the government issued $3.4 billion in grants in the four months after Scott Morrison became prime minister in August 2018 and this climbed to $16.9 billion in the following calendar year.

After Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to commit to setting up an integrity commission in the next term of parliament, former judges have stepped up their calls for a powerful watchdog and accused him of breaking his election promise three years ago to act on the problem.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese will sharpen the divide on the key issue of trust in politics on Saturday by pledging to pass laws this year to establish a federal integrity watchdog, with a challenge to Morrison to deliver on a promise made 1200 days ago.

“That’s 1200 days of rorts, waste and jobs for mates,” Albanese said. “Time’s up.”

The analysis of the federal spending, conducted by the Centre for Public Integrity, shows the government issued $3.4 billion in grants in the four months after Morrison became prime minister in August 2018 and this climbed to $16.9 billion in the following calendar year.

The total fell to $14.2 billion in 2020 before rising again to $20 billion last year, with another $1.1 billion spent on grants in the three months to the end of March.

“This is public money being spent, at times, without any criteria or reporting,” said Michael Barker, QC, a barrister who was a Federal Court judge for a decade after serving on the Western Australian Supreme Court.

“With billions spent in grants through the pandemic, and billions more earmarked in this year’s budget, it is time for an overhaul of the grant administration process.”

The new findings follow years of concern about the growing use of grants after criticism by the Productivity Commission and scathing reports by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) into spending on sports facilities, commuter car parks and other projects Morrison promised at the last election.

“The audit office has revealed, repeatedly, problems with the current system and particularly the way that ministers are making grant decisions,” said Gabrielle Appleby, a law professor at the University of New South Wales.

“These decisions are uninformed by expert analysis, reasons for decisions are not recorded, and there is very little transparency and therefore accountability.

“The system needs a total overhaul.”

Tracking trends in government grants is challenging, however, because the federal GrantConnect database only reports data from the beginning of 2018.

The row over the integrity commission has highlighted different opinions among the Liberals, with Morrison dismissing the idea of a “kangaroo court” but Liberal backbenchers saying there was a case for setting up the new agency this year but not in the form Labor wants.

Bennelong MP John Alexander, who is not contesting the coming election after 12 years in parliament, called for bipartisan cooperation if the party leaders could not agree on the best model.

“I don’t think it’s the worst thing if it’s being alleged that it’s very weak,” he said of the government proposal.

“Float it and see where it leaks, and as it leaks, fix it up. It would be good if it’s next term we can get it started.”

The new report, based on research by Catherine Williams at the Centre for Public Integrity, recommends that all significant grants are subject to an independent assessment, strict criteria and greater transparency about the reasons for each decision. The centre is a not-for-profit think tank, which relies on donations and is not linked to any political party.

All grant programs worth less than $100 million – the size of the “sports rorts” program at the last election – would be subject to published merit selection criteria under the proposed reform.

Programs worth more than $100 million would be subject to guidelines set out in legislation and approved by parliament, setting boundaries for ministers over what they could approve.

The reporting scheme would require ministers to tell parliament every three months about spending decisions where they did not follow department advice. As well, departments would have to table documents in parliament on all grant programs worth more than $100 million.

The Centre for Public Integrity is expected to issue its findings in coming days with a call for a national integrity commission as another element to safeguard the use of taxpayer funds.

The new report shows all grants recorded by GrantConnect including essential work by the federal government such as grants to states for health and education, with no findings about waste or corruption. The object of the report was to highlight the money at stake and make the case for greater scrutiny.

The report finds that $17.5 billion has been spent on health grants, $9.3 billion has gone on transport and infrastructure, $5.7 billion on social services and $5 billion on education, skills and employment.

In a series of criticisms of political decisions over government grants, the audit office found that “funding decisions were not appropriately informed by departmental briefings” in the Safer Communities Fund and the reasons for decisions were not properly recorded.

The audit office found that applications “were not soundly assessed in accordance with the program guidelines” in the Regional Jobs and Investments Packages and warned of “insufficient scrutiny” of proposals for a $433.4 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

It found that aspects of the Supporting Reliable Energy Infrastructure Program “did not comply” with Commonwealth grant rules and warned of the absence of published guidelines or eligibility criteria or merit criteria in the Commuter Car Parks Program under the Urban Congestion Fund.

Morrison called the May 21 election last Sunday after a federal budget that included at least $13.8 billion in programs that could fund specific grants during the campaign, separate from road and rail projects in each state.

But the Productivity Commission called five years ago for stronger oversight of transport grants because of the “relatively weak” accountability.

“With no consistent framework for allocating grants, projects made possible through such funding can be particularly subject to the political imperatives of the day, rather than determined by either the performance of roads against consistently assessed need or consistently developed service standards,” the commission said.

Warning that decisions were subject to “political suasion” over taxpayer funds, the commission called for changes to grant rules as part of a wider boost to productivity in its landmark Shifting The Dial report in 2017, most of which has not been acted upon.

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AUKUS Protest Letter- Please sign

17 February 2022

The AUKUS submarine deal is bad for Australia on many fronts.

It is bad financially as the submarines are very expensive, so we will have a lot less of them. It is bad in that they will not be available for a long time, so we will be short in the meantime.

It is of course bad environmentally as if/when nuclear submarines are sunk there will be radio activity released at random locations around the world. Technologically nuclear submarines may be more vulnerable than at first thought. Because the nuclear reactors produce heat, they raise the water temperature, which can be detected by satellites. How vulnerable this makes them remains to be tested in practice.

These nuclear submarines are long-range attack submarines, which the US have to project power- read attack Chinese shipping. We do not want to attack China, so they are not appropriate for us. We need defence submarines to operate in our more local area.

Once we have the submarines, whenever that is, we will have to build a base for them, which the US will want to use. So we will be paying for a base that makes us a nuclear target principally for the Americans’ interest. We will be locked into the US global military system.

In reality, there are now two world powers. One is rising, and one is fading. Our major trading partner, China is rising, and the other, the US, is spending far too much on military hubris, neglecting its domestic problems and its wage structure has made its industries uncompetitive. Its military-industrial complex seems to want to create tensions to sell arms, which the US economy subsidises and now relies on. This is not a good economic model for the world. For Australia to hitch its fortunes to fantasies of bygone hegemony is foolish indeed.

China is extremely unlikely to ‘invade’ Australia. They are on the east end of the world’s greatest land mass and are building the belt and road initiative to get to the markets of both Asia and Europe. Australia is a quarry and a food source and provided we trade fairly they have no need for geographical expansion down here. If they were to attack us, the US would look at its options and decide whether it could possible defend us and at what cost, and that would happen in a global context, not due to some sentimental or historic tie. We should remember what happened in WW2 when we were threatened and appealed to Britain. They sent two token battleships which were promptly sunk by Japanese aircraft off Singapore, said they would take us back when they had beaten the Germans, and declined to give us back the troops that we had in North Africa. East Timor was invaded the week after the US Secretary of State had visited Jakarta. It is extremely unlikely that the US did not agree not to interfere; they were playing a global game as might have been expected. Sorry East Timor. Sorry Australia?

On the submarines, the US got a good deal. Australia signed up for inappropriate vessels at some future date at some yet unknown price, and will have to build a base that the US can use. The British had a little glimpse of being a world colonial power again, which must have delighted the fantasies of Boris Johnson, who thinks he is the reincarnation of Winston Churchill. Australia upset the French, upset the Chinese, upset the Indonesians, locked ourselves into a dangerous alliance against our major trading partner, signed a blank cheque, and hugely restricted our future policy options, but gave Mr Morrison a few good headlines when he was looking bad politically. It was another milestone in the triumph of hubris and lobbying over sensible policy.

Since Australia already has a bad reputation for tearing up submarine contracts, we might as well use this reputation to tear up the AUKUS one. The only hope is that Labor, having won the election by being hopelessly timid, might actually be brave enough to look at the situation afresh.

Please sign the petition below.

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Morrison’s Character Analysed

11 November 2021

Sean Kelly, the SMH journalist has written a book on Scott Morrison, ‘The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison’. 

As an example he analyses Morrison’s first (maiden) speech.  These speeches are always studied as they are when a new politician states their values and objectives, hopefully unsullied by the political pressures that will come later. 

Morrison is from the Kurnell electorate, where Cook first landed.  His first speech was the day after Prime Minister Rudd had apologised to the Aboriginals. Though Morrison says ‘sorry’ to the Aboriginals, he then makes it a regret that Aboriginal children are currently disadvantaged, and says that invasions were the colonial mistake was made by every powerful nation at that time.  So effectively, the word ‘sorry’ is cheapened and the apology not worth much.  As Kelly points out, the first impression is that it is an apology, but later everyone can find something to agree with.  All powerful countries did it, so we are not guilty, and we have much to be proud of etc.  The words are crafted to appear to mean something, but overall there is no policy and ambiguous meaning.

The question now is whether the crafted releases which dominate the news will overcome the silent record of Morrison’s Prime Ministership; stoking fear of Labor, pork-barrelling and not doing much that is useful or permanent.

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Nuclear Submarines- a horrendous folly to win an election?


Many of us despair at the Morrison government;  whether it is the callous approach to asylum seekers, Robodebt and welfare generally or the naked favouring of their constituency where JobKeeper payments are not required to be repaid.  The total breakdown in ethical standards where public moneys are rorted with grants to electorates that will favour them at the polls and might even be the reason that they were re-elected. The dismantling of public service capabilities and intellectual resources with the granting of private contracts for welfare payments with the Indue card, given to Liberal-friendly companies or to compliant companies to run detention centres or Great Barrier reefs research. The lack of support for TAFE and trade skills, replaced by skilled migrants on visas that have no Medicare or income support when they became stranded, the casualisation of university teaching positions with and no support or quarantine for foreign students despite the fact that education is our 3rd biggest export industry.  It just goes on and on.

The mismanagement of the COVID epidemic in terms of being unwilling to build quarantine facilities to allow overseas citizens to return home and the lack of purchase of vaccines, and their desultory distribution practices is the current big issue that is upsetting their popularity.  They were willing to throw money at JobSeeker when it went to big business, but now that it continues and has to go to individuals they want to end welfare and will stop payments as soon as vaccination rates hit 70% of the over 16s, which is only 57% of the population.  As I have said on this page before, this is a level of irresponsibility beyond all else, justified by the idea that the economy has to go on and only the aged and sick will die.  The divisiveness and callousness of this leaves one breathless, and as it plays out it is likely to be the end of the Morrison government.

So Morrison, the master media manipulator needs a very major distraction. China is asserting itself, which is clearly a problem, but the demonising of it seems very convenient for Morrison.  The French submarine contract was not good, but it seems that the nuclear one is worse. 

We were going to get 12 conventional submarines at a cost of $90 billion, the first coming in 2034.  Now we have dumped the French contract and get nuclear submarines at a cost of either  $3.45 billion each for the US Virginia model or $2.83 billion for the UK Astute model (2018 prices).  The delivery dates are likely to be around 2040, so our old Collins class ones will be a long way past their use-by date.  

The noted defence commentator, Hugh White had a very critical piece in The Saturday Paper 18-24/9/21, teased with ‘The old plan was crazy, the new plan is worse’.    Two ex-Prime Ministers, Keating and Turnbull were both highly critical of the decision in the SMH of 22/9/21 and 29/9/21 respectively. Turnbull even spoke at the National Press Club on the subject.

The deal, dubbed AUKUS, was announced by Morrison with US President Joe Biden and UK PM, Boris Johnson.  One could hardly believe this was not some sort of parody. The old Anglo alliance, rooted in history, but totally at variance from the image that Australia since Keating had been trying to project, a country engaging with Asia. 

Boris Johnson wrote a hagiographic biography of Churchill and fancies himself as a latter day Churchill, which is absurd hubris. The UK has no power ‘East of Suez’ as was demonstrated when 2 British warships sent to defend Singapore in 1941 were promptly sunk by Japanese aircraft.  Have they done anything significant here since?

The US is playing a far more strategic hand.  Australia has been a lap dog to the Anglosphere for all its history and this changed from the UK to the US in WW2.  Even in the absence of reasonable Peace lobby in Australia one might have hoped that the debacle of the Afghanistan war would temper our enthusiasm to go all the way with the USA, but it seems not.  The US is preoccupied with China. It wanted a base in Australia.  It may be hubris for the US to set up bases to try to contain China, but that is still where their thinking is at present.   Why would Australia need submarines to go to China except as part of a US force?

Gillard was the first Prime Minister to allow US troops to be stationed in Darwin, but the US wants a submarine base.  Australia may not have been willing to let the US have such a base as it would make us a nuclear target.  So the answer was simple.  Promise to sell us some nuclear submarines.  We would then need a nuclear submarine base and to maintain our subs.  Presto, Australia is paying for nuclear submarines and a base that our ally can use.  The US will not be able to contain China, which will sadly be demonstrated when China decides to take Taiwan.  China wants to be the dominant power in the world, and it seems that the world is going to have to get used to this idea.  China is likely to want to dominate economically and technologically, so the invasion of Australia is unlikely to be necessary and we should retain our economic and technical sovereignty, but rely  on diplomacy to look after our interests.

The French conventional submarines were as fast underwater as the nuclear ones will be, but have a lower range and lower costs. The French version of these is nuclear, so one of the reasons that they were chosen was that they could be re-engined at any time with nuclear propulsion with a lower-grade uranium, which was not weapons grade.    Naturally they had a lesser range, but if the object is to defend Australia, this may not have been a problem.  Nuclear submarines can stay underwater indefinitely, but their reactors produce a lot of heat, so if they are still they leave an area of hot water, which either is or will be visible to a satellite.  So the idea that they are less vulnerable to attack may not be correct.  It is not impossible that in future submarines will be as vulnerable to satellites, missiles and drones as battleships were to aircraft in WW2.

In terms of the perception of Australia oversea there are considerable downsides to the deal. 

The Chinese representative said to Stan Grant on China Tonight on ABC TV 20/9/21 that the submarines would make Australia a nuclear target. Grant seemed indignant and said that there were no nuclear weapons- it was just the propulsion.  Presumably the Chinese representative was referring to the fact that there would be a US nuclear submarine base on Australian soil, and he assumed that Grant knew that.  It appeared that Grant had not thought it through.

The Indonesians are concerned that we have long-range submarines that we do not really need for our coastal defence and that we are firmly partisan in the US-China standoff and have brought the conflict into their area, quite apart from any aggressive intentions that we might harbour against them. The old colonial ties are all renewed- what sort of country are we, Asian or Anglo?

The French are naturally furious, and they are very influential in the EU while we are on the verge of a free trade treaty. This is very poor politics on a very big trade issue.  We have unilaterally torn up a major deal. How reliable are we?

Morrison has been seen in happy snaps with the US and UK leaders. He is appealing to his Anglophile base. He thinks this parody of statesmanship can be spun into an election victory, some say as soon as November, before the COVID debacle reaches its final stage.  If Morrison can win again it will be the last straw in taking Australia down  a dismal and unconsidered path.

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Liberal Government Backflips

30 April 2021 Morrison is running a highly Presidential style of government such that the evening news is now more like ‘What Morrison did today’. This reminds me of when I was in Parliament and would try to sell an issue to the Parliamentary media, and they would say, ‘We’ve got our NSW story for today; it is Minister X opening Y’. I would say, ‘Yes, but that is staged and not really news and there will something else staged tomorrow and the next day and you are merely a government propaganda arm’. The journalist would reply, ‘Yes, probably, but if I don’t cover that story I will get my ass kicked’. These government backflips are mainly ignored by the mainstream media because of Morrison’s media management strategy. He hold media briefings in which he says what he is going to announce the next day, so those invited can have a ‘sneak preview’. He then announces whatever it was so gets two bites of the cherry. Of course any journalist who gives an unfavourable spin risks having their outlet not invited next time, so they will just be commentators 15 hours behind the story. Here is a story from Bernard Keane at Crikey, who is one of those not invited.…/china-backflips-media…/…
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Government Scandals

28 March 2021

James Dupres has put together this interim list of scandals by this Federal Government. It is still expanding, but a valuable resource for those who want to recall what has been happening. We look forward to his articles.

May be an image of text that says "In Alphabetical Order. AdaniRail HawaiiHoliday AgedCareCss HelloWorld APSOutsourcing HillsongFunding Funding Asylumgate Icaregate AuPairs IndueCard BankingCommission JobkeeperKept BarrierReefgate Juvenilel Detentio BrittanyRape MurdochPayout BushfireAbandonment NBNgate Cash4Visas INTGrants Chinagate Paladin Chris tianPorterGate PalmerJetGrant Parakeeliagate QAnonConnection RoboDebt RubyPrincess SercoFraud ServeGateCharity SportsRorts StafferAbuse Submarinegate Taylorgate Vaccine VaccineBotched Botched Watergate [Firesga Furnitur Grants GrassLandsGate GrassLan Can't for the life of me figure out why the LNP are not long dead and buried by all this?"

Here are the references for the topics!

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The End of Scomo?

26 March 2021

We have heard so many stories about bad treatment of women in Parliament, that each one now becomes just become one more and focus has shifted to the government’s response.

Prime Minister Morrison has been hugely criticised for his response, which now belatedly includes thanking rape victim Brittany Higgins for bring up the subject.  SMH 26/3/21.

Having protected Christian Porter he is now considering a cabinet reshuffle, which supposed moves Porter but does not sack him.  This is unlikely to placate criticism, and the criticism may eventually threaten his own position. SMH 26/3/21

The talent pools seems quite shallow with over-religious people, but Treasurer Josh Frydenburg seems the most likely and is apparently replete with ambition.  He has experience in banking, law, and international relations.  A son of Jewish post-war refugees, he was educated in Jewish private schools and is very pro-Israel.  It is rumoured that Lachlan Murdoch would like to see the change from Morrison to Frydenburg, which may give the Liberals a better chance in next year’s election. 

Morrison has concentrated all the attention for this government on himself, so it he goes the Libwrals can pretend that there have been big changes.  There is a lot of precedent for this as a successful tactic.  When Abbott won the 2013 electi0on and quickly became unpopular, he was replaced by Turnbull, who managed to turn the tide just long enough to win the 2016 election.  Turnbull was powerless within his party and when this was perceived, the Liberals again crashed in the polls, but Morrison replaced Turnbull and they won again in 2019.  Now if Frydenburg replaces Morrison, Labor remains lack-lustre, COVID recedes helping an unexpected recovery, can they win a 4th time?  No doubt that is the Liberals hope.

Morrison’s track record may come back onto focus.

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The Evolution of Lying Proceeds Apace: New Daily 19/12/20.

When Trump was elected people asked me what he would be like. I said something like, ‘in any situation think what a dodgy real estate agent would do in that situation and you have my best prediction’.

Trump’s idea of truth was that it what is in your interest and what you can convince someone to believe. If you look at the real estate model of truth this is a ‘goer’. You convince someone that a property is worth a certain amount, even if its not. It the person believes you and pays the price, that becomes the value. and what you said becomes the truth.

Sadly, the paradigm does not work at all with science, and not even reliably in politics. But it takes some time for this to become evident, so the disinformation strategy still mostly works.

Morrrison invites journalists to a ‘briefing’ before he releases news. So if the coverage of the last issue was not to the government’s liking- no invitation this time. Journalists are in the unenviable position of getting a story and having to cover it s a certain way, or being scooped- the only one on the block without the story, bleating later. The technique is now called ‘media management’.

Here is Dennis Atkins with more on how it is done.

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Truth in the COVID-19 Era: Australia

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison is perceived to have done well in managing the COVID-19 crisis as, smarting from his bushfire debacle, he took expert advice.  He has used the crisis to shut down Parliament and with his use of State Premiers as a sort of wartime Cabinet he has bypassed the Labor opposition.  Now he […]

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