Robodebt, Corruption and the Dereliction of Duty by the Liberal Party of Australia
The Australian federal government has become a shambolic mess of half formed ideas, corruption and delusional thinking. The people will make their voices heard soon and it’s seeming like we’re on a trajectory to boot the LNP out of power, but I fear that it’s going to be too little, too late. The damage of years of LNP governance is incalculable. No Australian government in our lifetime has this kind of track record — bigotry and human rights violations towards refugees and the Indigenous community, failures in service delivery to the poor and disabled, and elderly, numerous rape scandals, numerous corruption scandals, wrecking of the NBN project and the absolute abandonment of responsibility in times of crisis (NSW bushfires, COVID-19).
When Labor takes this country back — we need to follow up on each and every one of these ideologically motivated crimes against the Australian people and make sure there are consequences. Make no mistake that these were crimes and they were done one in our name, with our money and our national assets. It’s our collective future and pride that has been tarnished by an arrogant and privileged few. The ABC of the past few years is unrecognisable to most long term viewers — agents of the conservative movement such as David Speers have shunned journalism and integrity in favour of disseminating the conservative agenda. We need the Australian media to provide factual reporting and not act as the propaganda arm of the conservative movement.
When the Abbott government first announced that Centrelink applicants will need to apply for a certain number of jobs a month I thought that would be the extent they could wreck welfare before internal checks pushed back on them. Instead, they doubled down on cruelty to the poor and disadvantaged by announcing Robodebt — as if there was some vast amount of welfare abuse they had to chase down. It was clear to me this was a matter of ideology and not pragmatism, and their loss in the subsequent lawsuit proves as much. Robodebt was meant to compare records from the ATO and Centrelink and then automatically issue debt notices, without any manual oversight — not even a meaningful trial period to ensure the system worked.
As a former Business Intelligence programmer for a billion dollar company I am quite familiar with the macrodynamics of systems, I am confident in saying that most people in the Business Intelligence line of work could have guessed the risks and possible harm of Robodebt just from having the system described in an elevator pitch — it was unfit for purpose from the get go, and yet the conservatives were allowed to build it, cause harm to people and still continue it in a smaller form afterward. We need a Royal Commission into Robodebt just to figure out what the LNP really knew about the consequences of their Robodebt system, if there was evidence of the rampant welfare abuse and whether Robodebt was a proportional response, or one of ideology.
If I was upset about mosquitos biting me and proceeded to burn down my suburb, I would be charged and convicted as a criminal. When it comes to Robodebt, the LNP are unlikely to face the extent of inquiry and consequence required to prevent them from abusing the welfare system again. They’re essentially above the law — which combined with their role of writing the law, is a dangerous combination indeed. It is going to take every one of us to keep asking questions and pressure people in power to follow up on this.
There’s 3 levels of meaning in the name of the Liberal party:
- They’re obfuscating the fact that they’re the conservative party
- They actually change a lot of things for a conservative party, and it’s objectively for the worse
- Their “Neo Liberal” ideas curiously tend to favour certain people and not the wider business and economic interest
The below, in no particular order, is a summary or the corruption scandals that have plagued just this current Government.
Make sure no one forgets.
Peter Dutton personally over rules grant funding recommendations from his own Department, slashing funding for recommended projects and reallocating them to handpicked projects including churches in his electorate.
Dutton Charged Tax Payers $36,000 to fly via private jet to Tasmania during the Braddon Byelection, to announce Government grants for the local council over a month before applications were even open for the “Safer Communities Fund”.
His own Department would later determine that the grants provided at the time did “not represent value for money in accordance with the program guidelines”.
Dutton personally over ruled the determination.
Bo ‘Nick’ Zhao, a Chinese born Australian goes to ASIO telling them he’s been offered a $1million from the Chinese Government to run as a Liberal Party candidate and then infiltrate the Australian Parliament as a Chinese Spy.
He then turns up dead in a Melbourne hotel room in March.
Enter Gladys Liu, the Liberal Candidate with a host of concerning connections to the Chinese Government who earns Liberal pre-selection thanks to miraculously raising a million dollars in donations.
Fairfax then discovered a photo of Liu at her home with Nick Zhao in the back ground.
Gladys is now the Liberal Member for Chisolm.
Liberal Candidates Gladys Liu and Josh Frydenberg both have Mandarin signs at polling booths in the colours of the Australian Electoral Commission branding telling Chinese citizens how to vote (by putting 1 next to the Liberal Candidate). There is no Liberal Party branding on the sign
Liberal officials admit in court that the signs were designed to convey the appearance of official electoral commission material.
Angus Taylor writes a public letter, published in the Daily Telegraph, to Sydney Mayor Clover Moore criticising her for her millions of dollars of domestic travel. The document he quotes is a forgery.
Taylor refuses to disclose where he got the fake document from and refuses all Freedom of Information requests from the media that might give an insight.
Fake ‘How To Vote’ cards were handed out in Peter Dutton’s seat of Dickson designed to trick Greens Voters in voting for Dutton.
George Christensen charges tax payers for domestic flights and ComCar trips that were part of his trips to known red light districts of the Philippines. When he is caught he simply pays back $2,100 with no consequences.
Barnaby runs up a bill of $675,000 in 9 months in his role as Special Drought Envoy. When asked what he did in the role, Joyce explained that he sent his “report” in the form of multiple text messages to Morrison. When The Guardian submitted a Freedom Of Information request for these texts it was rejected on the grounds that Morrison was too busy to retrieve them.
The Coalition granted $444million to a little known organisation called the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The process involved no public tender, no transparency, and the organisation was later found to have business partnerships with BHP and Rio Tinto.
The Coalition awarded a $423million contract to run Manus Island detention facilities to a tiny and almost unknown company called Paladin as part of a “limited tender” process only meant to be used under special circumstances. The company’s head office was a small shack on Kangaroo Island and family members of the PNG Parliament were found to be directly profiting from the contract.
Helloworld travel agency paid for Finance Minister Mathias Cormann’s family holiday to Singapore within two weeks of the Coalition awarding Helloworld a Government contract worth over $1billion.
Cormann claims he didn’t notice his holiday had been free.
On two seperate occasions, Peter Dutton personally intervened to have European au pairs allowed into the country after being initially refused by Border Force.
The first was on behalf of an old Police colleague, the second on behalf of the AFL Chief Executive and son of a Liberal Party donor.
Barnaby Joyce’s mistress, Vikki Campion was forced to leave her role as his staffer when rumours of their affair started causing tension with colleagues. As a result she was given a plum $190,000 a year job with good friend Senator Matt Canavan despite Parliamentary rules prohibiting jobs for ‘partners’.
There were a number of allegations suggesting she never attended work whilst in this role.
The Coalition granted $30million to Foxtel, ostensibly to assist with “sports coverage” (whilst simultaneously slashing ABC funding). There was no public release of any conditions or oversight regarding the funding. News Corp, the largest newspaper owner in Australia and the owners of Foxtel, vigorously and unapologetically proceeds to support the Coalition whilst attacking Labor in the next election.
The Coalition granted $200,000 to Foxtel station Sky News to fund a new show featuring future Liberal Candidate Warren Mundine. The funding was taken from money budgeted for “Indigenous Advancement”.
Inquiries later found that the funding had been officially approved before Mundine had even formally applied for it.
Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert charged tax payers $2,000 a month for home internet, blaming “connectivity issues”. He was later forced to repay $38,000 in inappropriately claimed expenses but was not further investigated.
The Coalition award a Chinese company a 99 year lease on Darwin Port. A year later, Andrew Robb, the Trade Minister at the time of the deal, leaves the Government to assume an $880,000 a year job as a “Consultant” with the same Chinese company.
Barnaby Joyce approved a dodgy $80million water buy back from a property owned by a Cayman Island’s based company that Energy Minister Angus Taylor used to be the Director of and his college mate now ran.
When Twitter users began to discuss it his lawyers sent letters to them threatening legal action for defamation if they didn’t delete the tweets.
A property owned by Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s brother was alleged to have illegally burned 30 hectares of native grassland classified as endangered under existing environment laws.
After Angus Taylor personally intervened and met with then Environment Minsiter Josh Frydenberg about the investigation into his brother, the Government suddenly announced a review into the part of Commonwealth environment laws that specifically deals with endangered native grasses.
Over $100million in grants to sporting clubs were handed out according to a colour coded spreadsheet showing if the clubs were in marginal or potentially winnable electorates.
The Government overruled the recommendations of the Sports Commission 300 times, instead giving photo ops to LNP candidates just before the election.
The PM denied any involvement despite extensive email evidence showing his office was calling the shots.
In 2016, the Government set up an automated debt recovery mechanism to recover welfare overpayments.
However the calculations used by the system were deeply flawed and demanded repayments from thousands who hadn’t been overpaid a cent.
To make matters worse, the new process reversed the onus of proof on the recipient to prove they hadn’t been overpaid.
Over 2000 Australians died after receiving Robodebt notices. A large (although unknown) number have been attributed to self harm.
In 2020, the Government finally admitted the system was flawed and paid back or forgave $1.2billion in debts.
Morrison hand picks a Gas Company Chairman to run a “Covid Commission” to plan Australia’s post-Covid economy.
He was paid $500k for 6 months work. He eventually recommends tax payers underwrite a “gas led” recovery. The shares for the company he works for rises 8%.
When Foxtel missed out a $100million pandemic rescue package, News Corp execs wrote directly to Coalition Ministers to complain and immediately received $17.5 in tax payer grants.
When the ABC requested copies of the communication under FOI, the Government refused stating that it would damage the relationship between the Sports Minister and the PM.
As the Government was deciding whether or not to bail out Virgin Airlines, MP Dave Sharma purchased shares in Virgin’s biggest competitor, Qantas.
Months later, just before Morrison announced an agreement with CSL to make millions of doses of a Covid vaccine, Sharma just happened to have bought CSL shares.
Mathias Cormann quits the Coalition with aspirations to become the OECD Secretary General.
Tax payers fund his $4,300 per hour Private Jet to fly him to and around Europe as well as 8 full time Government employees to assist him.
For the 2nd year in a row, Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, and Peter Dutton fly by private jet from Canberra to Sydney (and back) purely to attend Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas Party.
Tax payers fund the trip.
Between August 2018 and May 2019, Defence Minister Christopher Pyne awarded over $98million in multiple contracts to defence contractor Elbit Systems.
In December 2020, the moment Pyne’s 18 month lobbying exclusion had passed for former Ministers, Pyne’s lobbying firm was hired by Elbit Systems for an unknown fee.