From ‘Sydney Criminal Lawyers’ … Teflon Gladys …

Gladys Berejiklian

LINKS to reports from ‘Sydney Criminal Lawyers’ … on Teflon Gladys

NSW Premier’s Office Accused of Corruption

30/10/2020 BY SONIA HICKEY

The potentially unlawful shredding of documents relating to $252 million in grants could finally be the nail in the coffin of New South Wales’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian,

The story so far

A NSW Parliamentary Committee investigating the $252 million Stronger Communities Fund has been told by two senior staff members of the Premier’s office that ‘working notes’ sent between Ms Berejiklian and her senior staff member Sarah Lau with regard to grant allocation, were physically shredded, and then digitally deleted, in what was “not routine practice”.

The revelations have resulted in fresh calls for the Premier to resign, amid concerns her staff may have acted unlawfully in disposing of the papers.


Teflon Gladys. Is it Time for the NSW Premier to Resign?


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has faced scrutiny recently over her involvement in – or at least wilful blindness in the face of – allegations of corruption by members of her Party.

Just a few weeks ago, NSW residents were polarised over whether the Premier should resign after admitting to a long-term, secret personal relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire; during which the pair discussed the latter’s questionable business dealings.

Shielded by the mainstream media

The narrative put forth by parts of the mainstream media was that the Premier’s personal life and poor relationship choice should not prevent her from continuing in her position.

But, perhaps the real question should have been: Did Ms Berejiklian know about, or at least turn a blind eye to, her partner’s potentially corrupt conduct, and breach her duty under the law to report it?


Allocating Millions Without Documentation. So What? Says Berejiklian


The rules pertaining to proper conduct applying to all citizens of this state, as well as less senior politicians, don’t apply when it comes to the NSW premier, according to the suspect actions and excuses of current office-bearer Gladys Berejiklian.

The latest scandal to beset the state’s leader – and perhaps the most damning – involves her signing off on a suite of council grants adding up to $141 million, much of which just happened to be allocated to councils in Coalition-held seats in the lead up to the last election.

Berejiklian is not the only minister to have signed off on the grants in order to “curry favour” within the community.

The $252 million grants rort – 95 percent of which was allocated to Coalition regions – saw deputy premier John Barilaro and a former local government minister giving biased approvals too.



NSW Premier’s Office Acted Illegally, But Won’t be Prosecuted


An investigation by the State Archives and Records Authority (the ‘SARA’) has found that the New South Wales Premier’s office broke the law when they shredded documents relating to $252 million in grants.

However, there is no indication any charges will be laid or that the premier or her office will be made legally accountable for their misconduct.

The law

The State Records Act 1998 (NSW) requires public officers to protect and retain a range of records.

Section 11 of the Act  is titled ‘Obligation to Protect Records’ and requires that:

(1) Each public office must ensure the safe custody and proper preservation of the State records that it has control of.

(2) A public office must ensure that arrangements under which a State record that it has control of but that is in the possession or custody of some other person include arrangements for the safe keeping, proper preservation and due return of the record.

(3) A public office must take all reasonable steps to recover a State record for which the public office is responsible and that the public office does not have control of, unless the record is under the control of the Authority or of some other person with lawful authority.

Under the government’s formal requirement for ministers’ offices records, and a requirement of the act, “briefing notes or papers maintained in the Premier’s Office” are “required as state archives.”

Section 21 of the Act further requires that a person must not ‘abandon or dispose of a State record’, nor ‘damage or alter a State record.’

The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of $5,500, which applies to each breach.

The shredded documents are certainly state records for the purposes of the Act.


Teflon Gladys: Inquiry Hears Fresh Evidence of Corruption

02/02/2021 BY SONIA HICKEY

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has attracted media headlines yet again as the New South Wales parliamentary inquiry into the allocation of government grants heard fresh reports of corruption.

Summary approval

The inquiry into the Integrity, Efficacy and Value for Money of NSW Government Grant Programs heard that the Premier approved a $20 million grant in Wagga Wagga without going through the required approval process.

Moreover, the grant was announced during the Wagga Wagga by-election that was sparked by the resignation of Daryl Maguire over corruption claims; Mr Maguire is, of course, the person with which Ms Berejiklian had a ‘secret relationship’ during that time.


Gladys Berejiklian Referred to ICAC Once Again


The New South Wales Upper House has referred Premier Glady Berejiklian to the state’s corruption watchdog, which is already investigating the business dealings of her former partner Daryl Maguire.

Conflict of Interest

The motion asserts that the NSW Premier failed to declare a conflict of interest when dealing with road upgrades.

In that regard, there are concerns that Ms Berejiklian met with Mr Maguire about an upgrade to a road more than 100km from his Wagga Wagga electorate, which runs past two investment properties he hoped to use as short-term rental accommodation.

It also alleges the Premier failed to disclose a conflict of interest when planning the M9 Outer Sydney Orbital; a project in relation to which Mr Maguire stood to obtain a financial benefit from.

“Mr Maguire stood to profit from both the upgrade of the Cobb Highway and from knowledge of the M9’s route. He was the premier’s partner at the time,” Labor leader in the Upper House Adam Searle said


LINKS to Reports on Drew Pavlou and Chinese Interference at the University of Queensland

-How can the University of Queensland recover from the Drew Pavlou Affair

 May 30, 2020 by Paul Frijters

-Suspended UQ Student Drew Pavlou Sues University of Queensland

-Drew Pavlou sues University of Queensland for $3.5M (Macro Business)






charged Taxpayers $38,000 for his own internet usage

accepted a $40,000 Rolex watch from a Chinese businessman

breached Ministerial Standards by having shares in a Trust linked to the mining company of a generous Liberal Party donor

created the impression that he was in China in an official capacity for a signing ceremony between a Chinese business and a mining company whose Executive Chairman was a generous Liberal Party donor

made his 80 year-old father a Company Director; named his parents’ home address as the company’s principal place of business which looked after tens of Millions of worth of Government contracts

-he was responsible for ROBODEBT

-and in charge of MY GOV Website which crashed a few weeks ago which he mistakenly blamed on a denial of service attack

SHE SAID ‘WHAT’S YOUR POINT?’ !!! !!!!!!!!!!

Here he is explaining how our information will be kept private!

It’s all on his phone, and he deletes it and presumably blows it away with one of Bridget McKenzie’s shotguns!


AN EPA Accredited Auditor has been Outraged by the Plan to dig up Sydney Harbour’s toxic sludge


WESTERN HARBOUR TUNNEL: Source: Environmental Impact Statement

From local commentators

-mirrors community concerns in St Peters when Westconnex trashed the joint there

-The State Govt has also ignored the old coal mines under the sludge. The proposed pipes may well be placed over unstable “ground” and crack.

FROM Carrie Fellner’s report in the SMH about the expansion of the privately owned Hong Kong Consortium MTR Metro … and its twin tunnels linking Rozelle with the Warringah Freeway in North Sydney


It looks like more of the same from NSW INC with this project running roughshod over communities in their path … this time dredging toxic sludge, and tunnelling …

‘Thousands of tonnes of toxic sludge containing cancer-causing chemicals is set to be dug up from the bed of Sydney Harbour, under plans for the Western Harbour Tunnel that one of the state’s leading contamination experts fears do not protect the public, including fishermen and families who swim in harbour pools.

It comes amid revelations the exact concentrations of the chemicals in the sludge will remain secret after the NSW government ruled that a report containing the information was “commercial in confidence” and should not be released to the public.

Dr Bill Ryall, a leading environmental consultant, has raised the alarm bells over a plan to dredge up part of Sydney Harbour to put in place a new Western Harbour tunnel.
Dr Bill Ryall, a leading environmental consultant, has raised the alarm bells over a plan to dredge up part of Sydney Harbour to put in place a new Western Harbour tunnel. CREDIT:DEAN SEWELL

Dr Bill Ryall, who worked as an EPA accredited auditor and has been involved in some of the city’s most significant contamination clean up efforts at Homebush and Barangaroo, has now decided to speak out, slamming the decision to withhold the “critical” report.

BECAUSE Dr Ryall is unable to assess the risk to human health or the marine environment with dangerous toxins from industrial activity and storm water built up over 150 years on the harbour floor

-past studies have shown the tracts of sediment are worse than Tokyo Bay or New York Harbour

chemicals include dioxins, hydrocarbons, tributylin, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, heavy metals and PFAS

-under an EIS the sludge will be dredged for tunnels to be laid along the bed of the harbour

-workers would have to dig up a heavily polluted layer of sediment 1.5 metres deep

.using two pre-fabricated tube tunnels lowered onto the sea floor between Birchgrove and Waverton

SINCE the report remains ‘commercial in confidence’ how can the community be assured that some 760,000 cubic metres of sediment would not be affected by contamination?

DESPITE a risk assessment finding that buried contaminants posed a high risk. What management actions would render them low risk?

HOW is it acceptable that up to 1300 cubic metres of contaminated sediment particles would be lost to the harbour waters … to be ingested by fish, crustaceans and oysters?

WHY is the NSW Government not ensuring adherence to its legislation requiring developers to report contamination to the EPA?

-carry out a detailed investigation

-have remediation action plans signed off before releasing an EIS to the public

IS the secrecy about eliminating the costs in excess of $100M for treating sediments and disposing of the contaminated wastewater?

AND … inevitable odours of ‘rotten egg gas’ from wet acid sulfate soils during removal of the sludge!

Dr Bill Ryall has concerns over contamination.
Dr Bill Ryall has concerns over contamination.CREDIT:DEAN SEWELL

HOW has the FIRB escaped Scrutiny?

FOLLOWING all the Australian Assets, Property, critical Infrastructure that have gone offshore … largely to CHINA (the PRC), how is the proposal that the FIRB be allowed to continue to function, and to merely properly investigate systems, cyber security and data protection?

IT would seem the better alternative … to save what is left of Australia’s National Estate … is to disband, to dissolve the FIRB and subject this body to even more investigation … and even to enforce appropriate penalties ?…

It appears to many that the FIRB together with the FID have betrayed Australia and its Constituents by their very function through formulating mitigations (conditions) allowing the sell-off of our National Estate!

DESPITE the chaos in Hong Kong in August 2019 FIRB Chairman, David Irvine flew there to view the Chinese-owned Chow Tai Fook (CTF) owned by one of Asia’s wealthiest families, the Chengs.

FIRB chair David Irvine visited Alinta owner Chow Tai Fook last year as the company's presence grew in Australia.
FIRB chair David Irvine visited Alinta owner Chow Tai Fook last year as the company’s presence grew in Australia.CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY

What was his interest? Was it the sway held by this Family in the region?

And the growth of the PRC in Australia despite the FIRB?

CTF was granted approval to buy Alinta Energy provided it satisfied a number of conditions not disclosed publicly

-then granted approval to buy Loy Yang B, a power generation plant in Victoria

-an investment in Star Entertainment to enter a joint venture to build Queen’s Wharf Casino in Brisbane

The FIRB approved the Alinta sale despite inadequate internal privacy controls and cyber security, and certain conditions were not even close to being met.

-change happened when Roger Brake from the foreign investment division of Treasury was asked to explain the process it went through to approve Alinta

-it is Treasury which is responsible for auditing, monitoring and enforcing conditions of foreign sales, including Alinta to Chow Tai Fook; how it is unclear

*Professor Allan Fels, a former chairman of the ACCC described the FIRB as a black box and said the scrutiny was long overdue.

-that the FIRB  was not a regulatory body; it was not independent, politically *

-nor transparent; conditions imposed are generally not released to the public

-nor does the FIRB have the power or resources to enforce or follow up its decisions

The FIRB approved the Alinta sale despite inadequate internal privacy controls and cyber security, and certain conditions were not even close to being met.

AN example of the lack of transparency of the FIRB was when Delta Electricity, lost out on a bid for Loy Yang B to CTF in late 2017!

a condition of FIRB approval was that Loy Yang could not be more than 47 per cent foreign-owned

Delta’s consortium was 67 per cent Australian-owned; the balance was owned by US investors

YET CTF was granted approval to buy Loy Yang B, which is 100 per cent Chinese owned

-there was no explanation for the decision or why the rules changed for CTF

-it costs $millions to mount a takeover offer, including paying for due diligence and arranging financing

Delta Electricity was the only majority Australian bidder for Loy Yang B power station; critical generation infrastructure requiring majority ownership

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE FIRB in the report of Adele Ferguson, ‘A Black Box that Needs an Overhaul: How has the FIRB escaped Scrutiny?’


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-And to be told by this excellent research by Adele, that an Australian firm willing to invest in Australian assets is then undermined and outbid by kowtowing to foreign buyers makes no sense if it was to be seen as a logical and fair – but if it is seen from the nefarious, secret, underhanded perspective it seems to have been, then every Australian must start being alarmed AND alert.

A lady of Indonesian ancestry (but an Australian citizen) who lived close by told us that the rental house next door to us was owned by her sister back in Indonesia but the title is in her name. That scenario is very common in Australia and not even visible to the FIRB.

It would be interesting to run a report on Australian citizens born in other countries who owned say 10 houses or more.

-Selling off basic industries to overseas owners such as electrical generation and supply is idiotic. We have a government obsessed with national security and passing legislation that threatens free speech and information flow but sell off important entities to overseas owners. Fundamentals such as electricity, water, gas and communications should be considered to be held as essential to our national security

-Another Treasurer Morrison FAILURE.  Does it ever end ?

Critical infrastructure should never be foreign owned. In fact, critical infrastructure shouldnt be private/corporate owned. Successive governments have sold our assets to temporarily boost their budget bottom line. Then its gone.

-Agree, when we sell majority interests in critical infrastructure to abroad, we effectively hand substantial economic control to a foreign entity. Then again, buying Australian economic controls is seems a lot easier as well as cheaper than military invasion.

– It’s a bigger risk to the country than corona virus

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FIRB chair David Irvine visited Alinta owner Chow Tai Fook last year as the company's presence grew in Australia.
FIRB chair David Irvine visited Alinta owner Chow Tai Fook last year as the company’s presence grew in Australia.CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY

News Corp, Nine accused of closing AAP to damage competitors

Paul Hamra, managing director of The New Daily, said start-up media newsrooms with limited resources relied on AAP to help cover breaking news around the country.

“As a customer of the service, no one thought to contact us to discuss options, such as increased syndication fees, restructured offerings or equity,” Mr Hamra said.

“ … I get the impression News Corp and Nine just want to set up their own newswire service instead, with their own content, controlling more of the market and restricting access for new Australian journalism ventures.

THE MEAA said …

“ … today’s reports suggest a more sinister motive: The closure is designed to deliberately harm their print and online rivals who subscribe to AAP for news about politics, sport, business, courts and crime, and for breaking news.

“The fact that they didn’t put AAP up for sale indicates News and Nine simply wanted AAP shut down.”

Related Article:

News Corp, Nine accused of closing AAP to damage competitors

The New Daily@TheNewDailyAU



Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and fellow media giant Nine have been accused of closing news agency, Australian Associated Press, to damage their smaller competitors.

After repeatedly asserting that unfair competition from tech companies  Google and Facebook brought about AAP’s demise, new reports indicate News Corp and Nine might have had a more cynical motive for closing the decades-old news agency and putting hundreds of staff out of work.

AAP management announced on Tuesday that, after 85 years of servicing the Australian media industry, the news service would close on June 26.

About 180 jobs will be lost from AAP’s editorial arm, with hundreds more expected from other divisions.

On Thursday, The Guardian reported that AAP chairman Campbell Reid, who is also a News Corp executive, told AAP staff that Nine and News Corp were tired of subsidising a breaking news service for their competitors.

Mr Reid was quoted as telling staff in AAP’s Melbourne bureau that News Corp would develop its own breaking news service.

It has also been reported that Nine is considering a similar move.

Mr Reid reportedly said that News Corp was “committed to the supply of breaking news”, adding “we don’t have to supply it for everybody else in Australia who’s telling us that they don’t want it”.

news corp aap
Some 180 journalists around Australia will lose their jobs. Photo: AAP

ACCC monitoring

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has not announced an investigation, but confirmed on Thursday it was looking into the closure.

“The ACCC is aware of the announced closure of AAP and is keeping abreast of potential issues that may arise,” it said.

A spokeswoman said it would need to find that competition would likely be lessened to raise concerns.

The New Daily, The Guardian, The Daily Mail and the former Fairfax regional mastheads now controlled by Antony Catalano all rely on AAP for breaking news and photography.

Former ACCC chairman Allan Fels told The New Daily that while it was unlikely a legal problem with AAP’s closure could be proved, it would diminish competition and was a “landmark moment in the history of Australian journalism”.

Dr Fels said AAP has long formed the backbone of much of Australia’s journalism, particularly smaller newspapers, and was also quite an important ingredient for News Corp and Nine.

“It covers things that often the major newspapers aren’t resourced to do and it provides material for countless smaller newspapers,” he said.

“I’ve been saying for a while that public-interest journalism is shrinking as we speak. But this is a spectacular example.”

Paul Hamra, managing director of The New Daily, said start-up media newsrooms with limited resources relied on AAP to help cover breaking news around the country.

“As a customer of the service, no one thought to contact us to discuss options, such as increased syndication fees, restructured offerings or equity,” Mr Hamra said.

“We might have paid more – so, I hear, might have other customers, which could have helped the AAP business model. But no one asked.

“I get the impression News Corp and Nine just want to set up their own newswire service instead, with their own content, controlling more of the market and restricting access for new Australian journalism ventures.

‘Sinister motive’

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance on Thursday said News Corp and Nine “must answer for the decision to shut AAP”.

News Corp and Nine said the reason for shutting down AAP was that it was no longer financially viable and had been damaged by the proliferation of free news on social media and digital content aggregators,” MEAA federal president Marcus Strom said.

“However, today’s reports suggest a more sinister motive: The closure is designed to deliberately harm their print and online rivals who subscribe to AAP for news about politics, sport, business, courts and crime, and for breaking news.

“The fact that they didn’t put AAP up for sale indicates News and Nine simply wanted AAP shut down.”

The loss of the extensive news coverage provided by AAP means consumers around Australia will lose a trusted, reliable, accurate and impartial source of vital information.

“The media bosses responsible for the decision to shut AAP should pledge to employ any AAP editorial staff who want to remain in journalism,” Strom said.

Government action

Dr Fells called on the government to step in to help smaller media organisations. Photo: AAP

Dr Fels, who is chairman of the Public Interest Journalism Initiative, said public-interest journalism was shrinking and AAP’s closure was a “spectacular example”.

He said declining local journalism meant less court reporting and matters of concern to the local community, and called on the government to step in. Dr Fels flagged tax breaks, subsidies, scholarships and training support as potential ways to boost journalism.“It’s a fact that in the UK, Canada and parts of the US, and France as well, the government has been stepping in to protect the continuation of journalism, to give it some boost, especially local journalism,” he said.


Vietnamese company buys three cattle stations, with plans to expand into cotton and tourism


On Facebook



THERE we go again, selling the farm

WHY not it’s all up for grabs!

WHAT does the FIRB stand for?

IS it

-‘Foreigners Interest Reinforcing Buyups’

-‘Foreign Interests Retaining Buyouts’

Failure, Indifference, Rubberstamp, and Betrayals *

Q Can Australia buy up Vietnam, and do what we like?

A We tried before and failed and they are not going to allow us to have another go!

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

David Irvine, FIRB; all but five foreign investment proposals approved by FIRB …

P.S. …

‘The purchaser will look into growing cotton and building tourism to diversify its international interests.’

Growing cotton … what about the environment of the Northern Territory and Western Australia … to take more than its share of Our Water … as they vertically integrate their tourism … fly in tourists by their Vietnamese airlines … with their own guided bus tours and tourist shops … and stay in their own accommodation …

HOW long before the Australian workers become redundant and are replaced by foreign Visa Workers?

Vietnamese company buys three cattle stations, with plans to expand into cotton and tourism

NT Country Hour

By Daniel Fitzgerald

Updated 5 March 2020

a winding river with a hill and sunset in the background.
Auvergne Station, near the WA-NT border, is one of three Top End properties bought by a Vietnamese firm. (Facebook: CPC)

A Vietnamese agricultural company has settled a deal to buy three Top End cattle stations, covering 732,900 hectares and with 60,000 head of cattle, more than 12 months after a contract was signed.

Key points:

  • A year after signing a contract, Clean Agriculture and International Tourism settles a deal to buy two NT and one northern WA cattle stations
  • The Foreign Investment Review Board and the Vietnamese government needed to approve the deal worth $130 million
  • The purchaser will look into growing cotton and building tourism to diversify its international interests

The Auvergne and Newry Stations, along with Western Australia’s Argyle Downs Station, are now in the hands of Clean Agriculture and International Tourism (CAIT), a subsidiary of the Vietnamese-owned TH Group.

The deal to buy the properties — including the land, stock and plant — from Consolidated Pastoral Company (CPC), was worth $130 million when the contract was announced in January 2019.

After approvals from both the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Vietnamese government, one of the biggest Top End land deals in recent history was completed in late January, with most of CPC’s workforce continuing with CAIT.

A man, wearing a blue shirt, stands beside a cattle yard
CAIT representative Steve Petty says the company is taking a “slow and steady” approach to developing the properties. (Carmen Brown)

What is Clean Agriculture and International Tourism?

CAIT is controlled by the TH Group — a Vietnamese agricultural company that runs around 45,000 dairy cows, producing around 40 per cent of the country’s fresh milk.

The TH Group has rapidly expanded in the past few years, investing heavily in high-tech dairy machinery, and in 2018 put $US630 million towards a milk processing plant in Russia.

TH Group’s chairwoman, Thai Huong, has previously been listed by Forbes magazine as one of Asia’s most powerful businesswomen.

Kununurra-based Steve Petty is a director of CAIT and the company’s representative in Australia.

Dr Petty said the company saw the purchase of the CPC properties as an opportunity to expand into pastoralism, cropping, and tourism.

“It’s a move to diversify their international interests into other areas,” Dr Petty said.

“They know cattle from their existing dairy business … they see what the potential is in northern Australia, and they are quite excited about what can be done in this area.”

six people on horseback crossing a rive with a hill in the background.
Clean Agriculture and International Tourism now owns 732,900 hectares of land in the NT and WA. (Facebook: CPC)

Plans to consolidate cattle and develop cropping

While the company has plans to develop cropping on the pastoral properties, Dr Petty said consolidating and developing the cattle business would be the primary focus.

“It is a pretty good base that CPC have left there, and the plan is to build on that foundation,” he said.

“[CAIT] will then work to look at opportunities for agriculture that would involve improved pasture, and then into some level of cropping.

“The key place would be Auvergne, where there is a lot of potential.

“But there is a lot of work that needs to be done with the respective agencies for approval before taking that step.

“Further down the track there might be some involvement in tourism but that might be a three or five-year time frame.”

In the short term, CAIT aims to focus on growing forage crops such as sorghum, before following the lead of several other Top End stations by looking at cotton. *

“There is interest in the cotton area — there is a lot of work going on in the Territory and the Kimberley into opportunities. So they will look closely at that [in the future],” Dr Petty said.

“There is quite a bit of research that still needs to be done in terms of what is going to be economic and what makes sense.”

Emily Bryant drafts cattle in the yards at Auvergne Station.
All the managers and most of the staff previously employed by CPC are now working for CAIT. (ABC News: Kristy O’Brien)

Slow and steady approach to development

Dr Petty said the company was taking a slow and steady approach to the development of the three properties, in consultation with the NT Government.

“The NT Government has, to date, been very supportive of development in these areas but also very focused on what the regulations are, what is permissible, and what the potential environmental impacts or implications of a development [could be],” he said.

“So I think that between the NT Government and the CAIT group, it is going to be an evolution rather than any revolution.

“I think that is healthy for the NT and healthy for the company as well.”

Related articles




Michael Pascoe goes back over the maths on government grant rorts

There are things that urgently need federal money – an increased Newstart allowance, social housing – that should take precedence over pork barrelling.

Read more on the Rort Score so far … then Share! And tell others …

Michael Pascoe goes back over the maths on government grant rorts

Michael Pascoe wonders how trustworthy the Morrison government is when its proved it’s taken advantage of the public purse. Photo: AAP/TNDANALYSIS

Michael Pascoe



I was lazy. I stopped counting politically rorted federal grant programs when I got to $1.1 billion.

I should have kept going to reach $8.1 billion.

That’s the total for 11 federal programs that have serious question marks – or worse – over their ethics, probity and basic governance.

That’s $8.1 billion of taxpayers’ money at the disposal of politicians who can’t be trusted not to use it for pork barrelling their way into government.

It makes Clive Palmer’s $83 million anti-Labor campaign look cheap.

In fairness, not all of that $8.1 billion has been spent – yet – and not all of it rorted.

But having watched the Morrison government so comprehensively raid the public purse, there’s no reason to believe they would spend the rest more responsibly.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Parliament on Monday. Photo: AAP

Now, when Australia is facing a potential financial crisis courtesy of the coronavirus, Scott Morrison is only sloganeering about possible “targeted, modest and scalable” financial assistance for the economy.

Mr Morrison’s office, the Cabinet Expenditure Review Committee and the Liberal Party’s campaign headquarters have proven to be adept at the targeted and scalable use of public money to get re-elected, but there was nothing modest about it.

When I added up a little over $1.1 billion in rorted programs last month, I was only trying to make a point about an inconsequential Liberal senator’s complaint about the size of the ABC’s annual budget.

That’s why I stopped.

But the rorts and rackets have kept rolling in over the past week or so, demanding a full accounting.

The score so far:

  • $102.5 million for the infamous Community Sport Infrastructure Program, the straw that broke the pork barrel’s back because the government defrauded sporting club volunteers who were misled into thinking the projects would be chosen on their merits, not political expediency
  • $150 million for the coalition’s spectacular “regional” swimming pools, that just happened to be overwhelmingly in Liberal seats, including $10 million for the region of the North Sydney pool
  • $272 million Regional Growth Fund most of which was dished out in a hurry just before the election and no prize for guessing which colour electorates overwhelmingly pocketed the largesse
  • $841.6 million for the Building Better Regions Fund. This loot is spread over four years, so I erred on the side of caution the first time round in only counting the election year splurge – but we all know better now
  • $200 million in government advertising in the lead up to the election – an unprecedented level of self-promotion with your money
  • $2 billion for the ironically-named Climate Solutions Fund. This poorly-administered handout for the favoured few is of dubious worth to begin with. It runs for 10 years, so I originally counted only one year’s worth – but in the spirit of rorting, what the hell, throw the lot in
  • $4 billion Urban Congestion Fund incorporating the $500 million Commuter Car Park Fund that followed the usual pattern of being mainly poured into coalition marginal seats
  • $300 million Drought Communities Program – another one where the government ignores its own criteria and hands out money without regard for eligibility
  • $220 million Regional Jobs and Investment Package – ministers rejecting 28 per cent of the recommended applications and approving 17 per cent without recommendation
  • $22.65 million for the Stronger Communities Program, and
  • $22.65 million for the Communities Environment Program.

These last two don’t discriminate.

MPs of all stripes get to play with taxpayers funds here – $150,000 for each program in each of our 151 electorates.

Your local MP has to invite or endorse applications – the sort of structural corruption you would perhaps expect in the wilder parts of the Papua New Guinea political system.

The $8000 for a sailing club barbecue in Scott Morrison’s electorate is as good an example as any of federal politicians local big-noting with taxpayers funds.

It’s tacky, it stinks. It’s not what a federal government should be doing.

bridget mckenzie senate inquiry
Bridget McKenzie’s role in handing out the sports grants will be examined by a Senate committee. Photo: AAP

This invites a bigger question about these political acts of noblesse oblige – politicians are too busy trying to buy elections to consider what principles might be involved in making free with other people’s money.

For example, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was delighted to open the new Sunshine Beach Surf Club in the electorate of Barnaby Joyce’s little mate, Llew O’Brien.

With the help of $2.5 million from the taxpayer, the club has built a flash bar, restaurant and event centre on its brilliant site overlooking the Sunshine surf.

Oh yes, there are better facilities for the life savers, cadets and nippers as well.

The previous bar and restaurant were more modest, very much Sunshine rather than neighbouring Noosa, yet still a fine spot.

I wonder how other bars, restaurants and events centres in the area feel about having to compete with such generously government-funded opposition?

That should be particularly galling for the Coalition’s IPA “small government” faction.

The best thing the Adventures of Bridget McKenzie could achieve is a re-think of federal government’s responsibilities.

The “they all do it” excuse isn’t good enough any more.

There are things that urgently need federal money – an increased Newstart allowance, social housing – that should take precedence over pork barrelling.




Sports grants scheme gave money to club in Scott Morrison’s electorate that had already built facility

The Government decided to give the Sans Souci Football Club $50,000 for a building that was about to be opened by the state Liberal MP

Sports grants scheme gave money to club in Scott Morrison’s electorate that had already built facility

Exclusive by political reporters Jack Snape and Matthew Doran

Updated 26 FEBRUARY 2020

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A club in Scott Morrison’s electorate was given $50,000 for a building that had already been built — and the Prime Minister’s office was told about it before he attended a media event at the ground.

Key points:

  • The Government decided to give the Sans Souci Football Club $50,000 for a building that was about to be opened by the state Liberal MP
  • The club was awarded the grant on April 3, 2019, but the local council said the project was officially opened on April 6
  • Guidelines for the program stated projects that had commenced work were ineligible

Although guidelines for the sports grants program stated projects that had commenced works were ineligible, the Sans Souci Football Club facility — located in Mr Morrison’s electorate — was about to be opened by the local state MP when the Sport Minister decided to award it money.

A spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) said the project had been assessed by Sport Australia as eligible and it was the responsibility of the applicants and Sport Australia to ensure projects met the criteria.

Hundreds of pages of emails have been tabled in the Senate providing unprecedented insight into the $100 million pre-election sports grants cash splash and the $150 million Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream program.

They include an email between the Prime Minister’s and then-sport minister Bridget McKenzie’s offices prior to the Sans Souci media event.

“It is worth noting that the club initially missed out on the first two rounds of funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure grant program,” the email stated.

“The club was subsequently funded in round three.

“During the intervening period, the club has fundraised and the project is almost completed.”

Scott Morrison dribbles a soccer ball alongside children on a suburban soccer field

PHOTO: Scott Morrison appeared at a media event in July 2019 to mark the awarding of a grant for a soccer club in his electorate. (Supplied: Facebook)

The club sought $50,000 in the scheme as part of an $80,000 project for a clubroom and awning, according to the leaked spreadsheet.

Georges River Council stated the project was completed by April 6, 2019, and the club contributed $80,000 to the project alongside council and state government funding.

The $50,000 Commonwealth grant was given under round three, for which funding decisions were made on April 3, 2019 — three days before the opening was held.

A post by local state Liberal MP Mark Coure on April 9 marking the “official opening” of the building stated, “Sans Souci Football Club players are thrilled with the final outcome”.

The club declined to comment.

Eligibility not job for PM

Sport Australia provided a list of 1,943 eligible projects to the minister’s office in November 2018.

But after the Government decided to expand the scheme to subsequent rounds, decisions to fund Sans Souci and others under round three weren’t made until April 2019, by which time work on some projects had commenced without Commonwealth funding.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said the Sans Souci project was approved for funding by the then-minister for sport based on its assessed eligibility by Sport Australia.

“After Sport Australia assessed the projects and the minister approved them, Sport Australia worked with the recipients to develop their funding agreements,” the spokesperson said.

“It was the responsibility of the applicants and Sport Australia to have ensured all projects met the eligibility criteria.”

Georges River Council and Mr Coure opened the new Claydon Reserve facility on April 6, 2019.

We’re committed to improving the facilities available for our community and on Saturday we officially opened the Claydon Reserve Amenities building!

We’re pleased to be delivering several new amenity buildings, which are in various stages of construction across the Georges River area. Each building includes a referee room, home and away locker room, facilities for men, women, ambulant and parent bathrooms, a storage room and a canteen.

We hope you enjoy using this great new facility!

“The Government expects all organisations that apply for taxpayer funding to comply with the guidelines and eligibility criteria of those programs,” the government spokesperson said.

“The Minister for Sport is not aware of any advice from Sport Australia regarding eligibility of the Sans Souci Football Club.”

A total of 136 emails about the scheme went to and from staff in the Prime Minister’s office between October 2018 and April 2019, according to information released by the Audit Office on Wednesday.

Versions of the spreadsheet used to award grants were circulated four times with the Prime Minister’s office between February and April 2019.

Those communications included “input on which applications should be awarded funding”, according to a statement from the Audit Office.

Female facilities confusion

Heavily redacted emails tabled in the Senate show the scramble happening behind the scenes to figure out the process for managing the $150 million Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream (FFWSS), and specifically which department would manage the funds.

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The project has been heavily criticised by Labor and members of the crossbench for having no formal guidelines or tender process, with some recipients learning through the media they were about to be handed millions of dollars.

The Coalition has defended the project, arguing the funding was outlined in the 2019 federal budget and it allowed the Government to deliver election commitments.

Emails show that as late as September 2019, concerns were being raised the money had still not been transferred from the Infrastructure Department to the Health Department, where responsibility for sporting projects lies.

“The pools are not yet formally finalised as coming to us,” a government official wrote to another on August 8, 2019.

“If you are informing people that they are coming to us (which is expected) do you mind also saying it’s in progress to that outcome to give us half a chance to respond — otherwise I’m going to get bombarded and have no formal information or directive to be able to manage these requests.”

The ABC understands that among those enquiring about the program were major sporting organisations.

Emails dated in July include reference to lists of projects that “do not include those identified previously by PMO to be delivered out of the pools and female change rooms funding”.

The marginal Coalition electorates of Corangamite in Victoria and Pearce in WA received $60 million alone, or 40 per cent of the entire funding pool, from the project announced by the Prime Minister in March 2019.

The bundle of emails were presented to the Senate after the Upper House ordered the Federal Government to produce correspondence relating to the program.

The Senate inquiry hearing into the original $100 million sport grant scheme continues on Thursday when Sport Australia will appear.

A submission to the inquiry from Gippsland Ranges Roller Derby Inc, whose application was rated 98 out of 100 by Sport Australia but was not funded, stated: “We believe there is a significant trust deficit that needs to be remedied.”

Contact Jack Snape


Emails reveal Morrison office’s role in $100 million sports grants program

The first round of $28.3 million was announced in December 2018, the second round of $32.3 million was announced in March 2019 and the third round of $40 million was announced in April 2019, giving the government a boost at the May election.

Emails reveal Morrison office’s role in $100 million sports grants program

David Crowe
By David Crowe

February 26, 2020

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected new claims of corruption in the government’s $100 million sport funding program after new documents revealed his staff exchanged 136 emails with colleagues about where the money was spent.

Mr Morrison insisted his office did not decide any grants and merely made “representations” to former minister Bridget McKenzie over the projects that should receive money.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

But Labor leader Anthony Albanese told Parliament the new details from the Auditor-General showed closer involvement by the Prime Minister’s office than previously claimed.

“This rort knows no bounds,” Mr Albanese told Parliament, before the government used its majority to block a Labor motion claiming the Prime Minister was involved in the “corrupt” scheme.

Weeks after a scathing audit report on the program, the Auditor-General shed new light on the contact between Mr Morrison’s office and the ministerial staff who created a colour-coded spreadsheet to help decide grants.

Labor has declared the scheme corrupt on the grounds the spreadsheet tracked applications according to their electorate and thereby used taxpayer funds to help the Coalition win seats at the last election, a claim the government denies.

Mr Morrison has rejected claims his office ran the program, arguing Senator McKenzie was the decision-maker and responded to suggestions from his advisers.Play Video

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Play video1:24Morrison distances himself from sports rorts scheme

The PM says Nationals MP Bridget McKenzie had ‘ministerial authority’ over the sports grants program.

“All we did was provide information based on the representations made to us as every prime minister has always done,” Mr Morrison said last month.

Australian National Audit Office official Brian Boyd also told a Senate hearing earlier this month the audit did not show that projects that came directly from the Prime Minister’s office were more successful than those put to Senator McKenzie’s office by members of Parliament.

Challenged by Labor in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Morrison cited a former grants scheme overseen by Mr Albanese to argue Labor had been worse.

“The Leader of the Opposition is trying to throw mud when he sits in an absolute swamp,” Mr Morrison said.

"This rort knows no bounds," Anthony Albanese said.
“This rort knows no bounds,” Anthony Albanese said.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

ANAO said there were 136 emails between the Prime Minister’s office and Senator McKenzie’s office about the program in the six months before 11 April last year, the day the writs were issued for the federal election and the government went into “caretaker” mode.

The emails involved two “key staff members” in Mr Morrison’s office and three “key staff members” in Senator McKenzie’s office.

The details from ANAO counter some of the claims made about the program in a submission from Phil Gaetjens, the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Mr Morrison’s former chief of staff.

While Mr Gaetjens said he was told Senator McKenzie never saw the colour-coded spreadsheet, the ANAO revealed she had attached part of the document in correspondence with Mr Morrison.

“On 10 April 2019 the minister wrote to the Prime Minister attaching printouts of two worksheets within the spreadsheet – the list of projects she intended to approve for round three funding and the worksheet with the summary tables (of distribution by state, political party and electorate),” the ANAO said.

Senator McKenzie also signed a formal brief to Sport Australia on April 11 with a printout from the spreadsheet to make sure her decisions on the grants took priority over the independent agency.

The first round of $28.3 million was announced in December 2018, the second round of $32.3 million was announced in March 2019 and the third round of $40 million was announced in April 2019, giving the government a boost at the May election.


Phil Gaetjens, Secretary of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, says a controversial sports rorts scheme was not politically motivated.

Morrison’s top bureaucrat defends his report on sports rorts

The ANAO has previously revealed there were 28 different versions of the colour-coded spreadsheet, raising questions over which version Mr Gaetjens relied upon in his report into the scheme last month.

Mr Gaetjens said his analysis showed that political considerations were not the “primary determining factor” in Senator McKenzie’s decision to approve grants.

“There is persuasive data that backs up the conclusion that the minister’s decisions to approve grants were not based on the adviser’s spreadsheet,” he said.

Mr Gaetjen’s submission to the Senate inquiry cited a spreadsheet based on information from Sport Australia in September 2018 while the ANAO referred to a spreadsheet based on information from Sport Australia in November 2018.

David Crowe

David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.