Doctor and activist

Bribing the Governor-General?

4 September 2022

The antics of Scott Morrison were bad enough when he was Prime Minister. Since he left two journos, Simon Benson and Geoff Chambers wrote a book, ‘Plagued- Australia’s 2 Years of Hell’, about how he had 5 ministerial portfolios.

There were quite a lot of questions arising out of this.

It was not illegal, which was presumably obvious.  Who would pass a law saying ‘The Prime Minister shall not secretly give himself Extra Cabinet portfolios’?  It would not occur to anyone that this was possible. 

Also ‘Corruption’ seems to be defined very narrowly in law- someone has to make money, usually personally.  Corrupt process does not seem to count.  When I was in Parliament a whistle-blower, Nola Fraser told me about corruption in SW Sydney Area Health Service.  The first question I asked her was, ‘Do you mean someone was taking money, or do you mean that the processes were corrupt?’  She said, ‘No, its not about money, they are just killing people by pushing complaints sideways. They are supposed to be helping people, but they are doing the opposite’.  So I helped her and we had an inquiry  into SW Sydney AHS. Then ICAC got on the case and had an inquiry that cost more than a million dollars, and said that she had no credibility as she had no evidence of money changing hands.  They wasted a million dollars and trashed her reputation because they used their definition of corruption and did not bother to ask hers.

So probably Morrison is not corrupt either.  The Solicitor-General did not just say briefly that it was legal, he wrote quite a lot saying in essence that was highly undesirable.

One of the journalists, Simon Benson, was the editor of the Daily Telegraph and must have known about this before the election, but chose to reveal it in a book after rather than in a news story before.  In that this would have made a lot of difference to the election and Morrison might have been defeated by even more, it is a decision that frankly bothers me. I knew Simon Benson as the News Ltd journo in the NSW Parliament when I was there. He was a Murdoch man and had nothing but contempt for the cross-bench; an interest in power rather than procedure.

The other aspect is that the Governor-General knew about it and did nothing. In that the 1975 Governor-General was vilified when he sacked Whitlam, it could be argued that Governors- General since will obey their Prime Ministers and not question them. But they are there ‘above politics’ to see that the interest of the Australian people is served, and when the unusual appointments were not announced, the Governor-General should have both known and acted on it. It is strange how little criticism he has had. I wonder if this is because this is being stored up as evidence that we need an elected President rather than a figurehead one when we become a Republic. Those who would  criticise the G-G are mostly Republicans. 

But now The Saturday Paper has a story by Karen Middleton that Morrison gave $18 million to a leadership program that was suggested by the Governor-General, David Hurley. Hurley is an ex-military man.  The military naturally do leadership training and according to two of my nephews who have been in the military do it very well.  Various ex-military types have leadership training as part of elite Management Courses which exist commercially.  But whether leadership should have a large subsidised program seems dubious to me. It sounds like an elite getting even more resources.  Church schools are subsidised and it seems just to be governments paying to increase social inequity. Surely if leaders are going to emerge, they should do so from the rough and tumble of life.  The military, private schools and Management seem more than capable of looking after their own.

So what did Hurley want, how indebted was he to Morrison, and did this have any bearing on his response to Morrison’s dubious activities in personal Kingmaking?  

Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

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