MORRISON Drains the Swamp his Own Way!

The new generation at the top is aligned to the Prime Minister and … These are people who will literally shape the Australian story for the foreseeable future.” … senior policy manager at the Property Council of Australia, Tourism … “There was a definite shift in donations and support after Morrison took over

Morrison worked as national policy and research manager for the Property Council of Australia from 1989 to 1995. He then moved into tourism, serving as Deputy Chief Executive of the Australian Tourism Task Force 

BSc(Hons) (University of New South Wales). National ManagerPolicy and Research Property Council of Australia 1989-95. Deputy Chief Executive, Australian .

Morrison drains the swamp his own way

A hard-nosed clique of reformers has been deployed by the PM to underwrite a new set of credentials for the Coalition.


Scott Morrison on Thursday with his leadership team, clockwise from right, Josh Frydenberg, Michael McCormack, Simon Birmingham, Greg Hunt, Christian Porter, Peter Dutton, Mathias Cormann and Bridget McKenzie, and in the outer circle, from left, Yaron Finkelstein, John Kunkel and Julian Leembruggen. Picture: Adam Taylor/PMO
Scott Morrison on Thursday with his leadership team, clockwise from right, Josh Frydenberg, Michael McCormack, Simon Birmingham, Greg Hunt, Christian Porter, Peter Dutton, Mathias Cormann and Bridget McKenzie, and in the outer circle, from left, Yaron Finkelstein, John Kunkel and Julian Leembruggen. Picture: Adam Taylor/PMO

Scott Morrison is building a new power bloc around his leadership, dismantling the old “Canberra club” with a network of friends, confidants, bureaucrats and trusted allies tasked with reshaping Australia’s political, cultural and policy direction.

The shake-up marks a generational shift in the power base of the mandarins and political class who have ruled over economic, environmental and social policy, national security and the role of business in government decision making.

It has been deliberate, methodical and politically nonpartisan but purposefully calibrated to serve a dual purpose.


READ MORE: The Power List Part 2 — The key business experts and policy advisers helping the PM and Treasurer reshape the economy | Part 3 — Bomb plot the trigger for national security overhaulREAD MORE:Inside Morrison’s inner circle of trust

The new generation at the top is aligned to the Prime Minister and his agenda in a way not seen since the early days of the Howard government, and has been instructed to design and build new foundations for how the country is run. Morrison’s hard-nosed clique of reformers has been deployed to underwrite a new set of credentials for the Coalition’s 2022 election agenda by delivering real outcomes.

“These are people who can ­deliver, they are about action, not theory,” a senior government insider told The Weekend Australian. “It has been deliberately set up, and in a nonpartisan way … not Labor or Liberal but rather action versus inaction. These are people who will literally shape the Australian story for the foreseeable ­future.”

A tight-knit group of newly minted department heads, senior staff and friends has been anointed as part of Morrison’s inner and outer sanctums of power.

The Weekend Australian was provided a rare glimpse into the workings of the new power circle on Thursday morning. The Prime Minister had called a meeting of his leadership group ahead of axing five ­department heads and establishing four new super departments.

Sitting around the table were Josh Frydenberg, to whom he is closest, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Home ­Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, Attorney-General Christian Porter, Nationals leader Michael McCormack and his deputy Bridget McKenzie, Liberal Party federal director Andrew Hirst and new addition, Health Minister Greg Hunt.

VIEW Source Link for Scomo’s Network of Influence

App users tap here to see the interactive Power List: Part 1

Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, the most senior woman in government, has a broader role in the leadership group. Morrison has known her for more than 25 years, establishing a close friendship. She is Morrison’s eyes and ears on the factional warring within the moderate wing of the NSW branch of the Liberal Party. Frydenberg, McCormack and Cormann are also more than advisers. They are the first voices he relies on for wisdom and counsel.

Sitting on the sidelines of the meeting were key players in Morrison’s inner sanctum. His closest political advisers are chief of staff John Kunkel, a former Rio Tinto executive and Howard staff member; principal private secretary Yaron Finkelstein; and Andrew Shearer, a former national security adviser to John Howard and Tony Abbott, brought back by Morrison from a Washington think tank to become one of the most influential figures in government. Other inner-sanctum figures include communications director Andrew Carswell, a former chief of staff at The Daily Telegraph; Nico Louw, who as Morrison’s executive officer is the Prime Minister’s “link to everything and everyone” and barely leaves his side; and national security adviser Michelle Chan.

READ MORE: Inner sanctum fiercely loyal | PM’s eyes and ears | Mandarins lead PM’s reform agenda | PM’s policy shapers | Kelly: Defects in the economy | Van Onselen: PM needs to do some heavy lifting | Shanahan: Leaders to show new year’s resolution |

With the exception of the ­Treasurer, West Australian MP Ben Morton, the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, is considered the closest to the PM. Morton, who like Morrison was a former Liberal Party state director, acts as a conduit to the business community and is a key figure in the Australian Public Service shake-up.

While not publicly visible or involved in the day-to-day running of the Prime Minister’s ­office, Morrison’s two close friends outside of politics, David Gazard and Scott Briggs, are perhaps as influential as anyone.

Central to Morrison’s strategy has been the purge of the public service — a clean-out that is far from over but designed, according to insiders, to not impose “a night of the long knives”. There is now a handful of new bureaucratic clusters, led by people with whom Morrison has forged tight relationships through the crucible of policy and political hardships during his days as treasurer, social services and immigration minister.

Leading the reform agenda across the whole of government is the new Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet head Phil Gaetjens, Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo, Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy, Infrastructure and Transport tsar Simon Atkinson, Social Services chief Kathryn Campbell, and David Fredericks, tapped to head the new Department of Industry, Energy, Science and Resources. The links to Morrison are as stark as some of the links these new mandarins have to each other.

Gaetjens was installed as Treasury secretary from his role as then-treasurer Morrison’s chief of staff, the same job he held in Peter Costello’s office. The two would speak regularly and became close. Gaetjens represented the first move in the changing of the guard when he was installed as DPMC head after it became clear Martin Parkinson was unlikely to be part of Morrison’s long-term team. As part of this week’s APS clean-out, Parkinson’s wife Heather was one of the five secretaries told their services were no longer required.

Gaetjens’s replacement as Treasury boss is Kennedy, who had driven the infrastructure portfolio for the past two years after rising through the ranks of multiple departments and considered by insiders as a pragmatic “doer”. Kennedy, who held senior roles under the Rudd government, also worked with Pezzullo in Defence.

Pezzullo, the former defence adviser to Kim Beazley who has become a controversial “hard man” in charge of national security, came to Morrison’s attention early on and was hand-picked to roll out Operation Sovereign Borders in 2014 as the new head of immigration and border protection. The public service veteran, who joined the Department of Defence as a graduate in 1987, was recently reappointed by Morrison and wields significant power across the APS as head of Home Affairs, a mega-agency he was crucial in setting up. As a former Labor staff member, Pezzullo had risen through the ranks with Fredericks, who had been a former senior adviser to Beazley, Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong.

Atkinson, a former chief of staff to Cormann instrumental in shaping the budget, and then cabinet secretary under Malcolm Turnbull, was promoted last month from his Treasury deputy secretary role to take charge of an expanded infrastructure depart­ment. The new job, which now includes responsibility for the national broadband network rollout, is viewed as key in delivering major infrastructure projects, a key plank of Morrison’s economic stimulus plan. The qualified barrister, who worked with Pezzullo on the 2009 defence white paper, is close friends with Shearer.

Orbiting this group are Campbell, the Army Reserve commander, Defence secretary Greg Moriarty and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson, a former ambassador to China whom Morrison rates despite rumours she was also for the chopping block.

Moriarty, a former defence intelligence officer, had forged a relationship with the PM as ambassador to Indonesia when Morrison was working on the regional architecture for Operation Sovereign Borders. Campbell had led the welfare reforms that Morrison implemented during his stint as social services minister and is considered one of the most effective public service chiefs.

Morrison’s nonpartisan approach to a more subtle version of Donald Trump’s draining of the Washington swamp has retained key people from the Turnbull administration, resurrected some from the Abbott era and empowered mandarins who worked under Labor. A surprising move came this week, when Morrison resurrected the APS career of Andrew Metcalfe, who was removed following Abbott’s election victory in 2013. He now leads Agriculture, Water and Environment, a new super department set up to streamline government delivery on drought and water policy.

A member of Morrison’s inner sanctum described it as a “focused” group.

“Scott comes to the job with a very clear idea of what he wants to do … a clear judgment, and an instinct of what the politics are,” they said. “It is a very tight-knit group … and it’s not a chinwag and a chat. It intelligently deals with issues as they arise … like drought … and while Morrison gives ministers autonomy he also gives them very clear expectations that ministers have to deliver. That’s how the Westminster systems are meant to work, right?”

Morrison has moved to reshape Australia’s national security architecture led by Pezzullo. The retirement of long-time ASIO chief Duncan Lewis and Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin, and speculation over powerful National Intelligence director-general Nick Warner’s future, has provided an opportunity for Morrison to inject new blood into the security community.

Angus Campbell — who had worked with Morrison in establishing OSB — had been appointed chief of the Defence Force only a month before Turnbull’s demise. In addition to General Campbell, Morrison has appointed Mike Burgess as ASIO director-general and Reece Kershaw as AFP commissioner. The Australian Signals Directorate will also have new leadership in the coming months.

Morrison’s assault against Labor’s obsession with the “big end of town” contrasts his own dealings with business chiefs. As a former treasurer, Morrison naturally retains a wide pool of contacts and networks across corporate Australia. But unlike some of his predecessors, Morrison doesn’t chase their approval or support. He has a laser-like focus on the interests of suburban families and aspirational Australians and knows — like Trump — there is little appetite for the bad behaviour of big banks and financial institutions or tax-dodging multinationals. This approach shapes his contact with corporate high-flyers. Morrison’s key advisers are not the usual millionaires and high-achievers. They are ­executives and business leaders who have unique backstories, are leaders in their field or with whom he has forged ties throughout his career.

Former colleagues and contacts from his time as NSW Liberal Party state director, senior policy manager at the Property Council of Australia, Tourism Australia managing director — and more recently in parliament — act as sounding boards for Morrison.

The contact may not be frequent but Morrison will reach seeking practical advice to assist in the implementation of his economic and social vision.

Mark Bouris — the founder of Wizard Home Loans who later launched Yellow Brick Road — is one of Morrison’s mates. His is an extraordinary tale, the self-made entrepreneur who took on the big banks and became Australia’s Trump on The Apprentice. The pair — who were photographed at the footy after Morrison became PM — speak about small business and housing reforms and Bouris backed-in Morrison hard against Bill Shorten’s big taxing agenda.

Macquarie Group’s trailblazing Shemara Wikramanayake is another who has crashed through barriers. The Macquarie Group executive is the only female chief executive among Australia’s 20 biggest companies by market value and the first Asian-Australian woman to head an ASX 200 listed company.

Another friend, Adrian Harrington, was tapped to join the government’s National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation board, illustrating a Morrison tendency to recruit contemporaries and promote allies into key roles. Harrington and Morrison remain close after working together at the Property Council of Australia in the early 1990s.

A common theme sprinkled across Morrison’s inner and outer sanctums is the Prime Minister’s faith. Friends and advisers including Stuart Robert, his former flatmate who won a promotion to lead Morrison’s government services overhaul, and former NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione, are ­devout Christians.

Briggs — chairman of Morrison’s Cook federal electoral council and factional backer who helped engineer the numbers to deliver his close mate the leadership by five votes — remains a key adviser. Visibility around Morrison’s closeness to Briggs — a board ­director at the Cronulla Sharks — has been limited due to Briggs’s role in a consortium bid aiming to secure a government visa-processing contract estimated to be worth $1bn.

Morrison’s inner sanctum is considered more consultative and nimble than the offices of Abbott and Turnbull, which were dominated by smaller spheres of influence. Unlike his predecessors, Morrison remains the dominant figure in his office, with staff making recommendations or offering advice.

Reactive press conferences and daily announcements that dominated the first six years of Coalition rule have been dumped by Morrison in favour of controlling government messaging through social media, personalised videos and a targeted policy agenda. Hirst and Carswell have developed and implemented Morrison’s digital communications strategy, directly connecting the PM with voters.

Insiders told The Weekend Australian that Kunkel — who ran Howard’s cabinet policy unit before shifting to the private sector — acted as the “gatekeeper” and “decision maker” while Finkelstein took charge of “networking, speaking to stakeholders and keeping in touch with backbenchers and minister’s offices”.

The other post-Turnbull bounce, which has continued following the election, was a surge in donations.

“There was a definite shift in donations and support after Morrison took over. Post-election the party has done well. There’s lots of people who have come back with tails between their legs,” a senior party source said.

Turnbull’s demise triggered a procession of high-profile retirements, handing Morrison a rare opportunity for leadership and cabinet renewal. He continues to face pressure from Queenslanders and ambitious backbenchers for promotion but like Howard, he won’t be cornered.

The Coalition ministerial team has been revamped with new blood, moving on from the divisive Abbott-Turnbull era. Morrison is positioning his new leadership group and public service chiefs to focus on the next three years, with an eye firmly on the 2022 election.

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Labor guns for Phil Gaetjens’ head

Image result for images anthony albanese attack on gaetjens"

Photo: The Australian: Anthony Albanese gunning for bureaucrat over sports rorts review

Labor guns for Phil Gaetjens’ head

By Leith van Onselen in Australian Politics

February 4, 2020 |

CLICK the ‘comments’ for what some Commentators had to say!


Two years ago, MB vigorously attacked the appointment of Phil Gaetjens – the former Chief of Staff of both Treasurer Scott Morrison and former Treasurer Peter Costello – to secretary of the Australian Treasury, claiming that it would make the once august department even more politicised.

Gaetjens then subsequently followed Prime Minister Scott Morrison to become secretary of PM&C last year.

A fortnight ago, we witnessed this politicisation first hand when Scott Morrison referred the sports rorts scandal to ‘yes man’ Phil Gaetjens for advice as to whether Bridget McKenzie breached ministerial standards.

Predictably, Gaetjens’ inquiry found that sports grants had not been improperly allocated during Bridget McKenzie’s tenure as sports minister, even though the Auditor-General had previously found that the grants often targeted electorates that were marginal seats the Coalition needed to win at the 2019 election.

Now, Labor leader Anthony Albanese is gunning for Phil Gaetjens’ head, claiming that it will use the resumption of parliament to demand the release of Philip Gaetjens’ investigation into the ‘sports rorts’ scandal, as well as calling for a full inquiry into the affair, including the role of Gaetjens:

Scott Morrison is refusing to ­release Mr Gaetjens’s report, which cleared Senator McKenzie from showing political bias in allocating sports grants but found she breached ministerial standards by failing to declare her membership of a Victorian gun club awarded $36,000.

Labor intends to pursue the Prime Minister in parliament this week over the role of his office in handing out sports grants and the release of his department’s report, which contradicted the independent Auditor-General’s finding that grants were directed towards Coalition target seats.

The Opposition Leader ­accused the secretary of the ­Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of letting Mr Morrison and his office “off the hook”…

“And for the Prime Minister to just dismiss the independent report of the Auditor-General because he has something from his former chief of staff, which conveniently lets everyone else off the hook, means that there needs to be a full and proper inquiry into this sorry saga.

“They have to go through various procedures of transparency that are there now that have been ignored.

“Phil Gaetjens, if he doesn’t know that, then I don’t know how he has got the job as the head of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It’s quite farcical, this whole exercise”…

Labor’s pursuit of Mr Gaetjens will be coupled with a larger campaign over what the Prime Minister’s office knew about Senator McKenzie’s handling of sports grants and how deeply involved it was.

Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. Publicly announcing the findings of Gaetjens’ inquiry without releasing the report to the public shows a complete lack of transparency and poor political judgement.

Moreover, given Phil Gaetjens’ close ties to Scott Morrison and the Coalition, it is hard to believe that he would have reviewed the issue objectively.

The Senate crossbench has expressed support for an inquiry into the scheme. They should be tasked with the review.

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.


LABOR … Senior Public Servants should Declare all their interests

Labor MP Patrick Gorman is advocating the introduction of a financial interest register for senior public servants including the head of independent agencies.

Labor MP Patrick Gorman is advocating the introduction of a financial interest register for senior public servants including the head of independent agencies.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN


ALP: Senior public servants should declare all their interests

By Leith van Onselen in Australian Politics

February 4, 2020 | 9 comments

Labor federal member for Perth, Patrick Gorman, wants all senior public servants to be forced to declare their financial and personal interests, in a bid to improve transparency and confidence in our public institutions:

The Morrison government now requires senior public servants to reveal gifts or benefits worth more than $100

But Mr Gorman, who was once an adviser to prime minister Kevin Rudd, said there should be even more transparency about the financial and community links of senior public servants.

“We’ve only half-done the job,” he told The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald.

Federal politicians, at the start of every parliamentary term, have to reveal their own and their family members’ financial and personal interests.

These include financial holdings such as mortgages, partnerships, shares, directorships and substantial assets…

Mr Gorman said that, by following the lead of politicians in declaring their interests, senior public servants would be able to quell any concerns about their advice being affected by financial or community links…

Mr Gorman, who envisages the register would be overseen by the Prime Minister’s Office or the head of his department, said public companies required their senior staff and directors to declare their financial interests.

Senior public servants should be no different.

This makes sense. Senior public servants hold considerable power and are incredibly well paid, with the highest ranked public servants earning close to $1 million (see tables below):

But why stop there?

How about a federal ICAC with full powers that include ability to investigate and charge politicians?

Drain the swamp across the federal government.

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.


Story image for ALP: Senior public servants should declare all their interests from MacroBusiness (blog)

Coalition embroiled in another Grant Rorts Scandal!

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack (right), seen with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, said more Coalition seats received grants because "we hold more regional seats".

Photo: AAP

LVO … ‘Bring on another evaluation from the Auditor-General.

And some interesting comments where Labor went wrong in the lead-up to the May election … beyond the discussion on Trump …

Coalition embroiled in another grant rorts scandal

By Leith van Onselen in Australian Politics

February 3, 2020 | 53 comments

Just a day after Coalition MP Bridget McKenzie resigned over rorting the $100 million sports grant scheme (formally the Community Sport Infrastructure program), the Morrison Government has been accused of rorting a regional infrastructure grants program:

A regional infrastructure grants program administered by the Deputy Prime Minister awarded 94 per cent of its grants to electorates held or targeted by the Coalition in the months leading up to the election… *

Analysis by Nine News, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reveals 156 of the 166 infrastructure grants announced two months before the election, went to Coalition held seats, or electorates the Coalition was targeting.

“This appears to be another Morrison government rort,” [Labor’s Infrastructure spokeswoman Catherine King] said…

“There isn’t a publicly funded grants program Scott Morrison won’t use for his own political purpose,” she said…

Nine grants were awarded to the seat of Indi totalling more than $4 million.

The Nationals were trying to win that seat back from an independent.

Grants totalling $7 million also went nine organisations in the Victorian marginal electorate of Corangamite

Community organisations across the country applied for the grants through the Department of Infrastructure but the final decision on where the money went was made by a ministerial panel chaired by Michael McCormack, in consultation with cabinet.

Bring on another evaluation from the Auditor-General.

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.


Catherine King, Labor's spokeswoman for infrastructure, transport and regional development, has called for fresh scrutiny of the grants program.

Catherine King, Labor’s spokeswoman for infrastructure, transport and regional development, has called for fresh scrutiny of the grants program.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN


Scotty from Marketing trashes Australian Tourism

scotty from marketing scomo scott morrison

Image: Getty Images

SMOCO still doesn’t get it … the guvmnt sought help from one of Australia’s leading marketing experts … Russel Halcroft … a week before Smoco jetted to Hawaii with all the PM’S staffers attending the workshop …

The guvmnt’s approach to climate change was discussed but rather Smoco and Co sought to develop sales strategies for 2020!

The coal-loving SmoCo Government is now the biggest risk to Australia’s tourism brand.

He can spend your money to try to fix the damage but it is well known in marketing that editorial is much more powerful than ads.

Scotty from Marketing trashes Australian tourism

By David Llewellyn-Smith in Australian Economy

January 28, 2020 | 12 comments

It is a darkly amusing irony. Via The Australian:

You might refer to him as “Scott”. Possibly the Prime Minister. Maybe just “the PM”. People on both sides of the political fence often use the abbreviation “ScoMo”. But for a growing number of Australians there is a different way to refer to our current Prime Minister.

He is now “Scotty from Marketing”. Across social media and in day-to-day conversations, more and more people are using the phrase. It’s already proven immensely popular on Twitter, with #ScottyfromMarketing trending several times over the festive period. And there seems little doubt that as 2020 progresses use of the nickname will become even more prevalent.

And at the AFR:

The Morrison government sought advice from one of Australia’s foremost marketing experts on how to better sell its policies, including those on climate change.

About two weeks before Christmas, and a week before Scott Morrison jetted to Hawaii for his controversial family holiday, all staff in the Prime Minister’s office attended a workshop hosted by Russel Howcroft.

People familiar with events said better marketing of the government’s much-criticised approach to climate change was discussed but was not a significant part of the session which sought to develop sales strategies for the new year.

Yet, this, also at the AFR:

Goldman Sachs has estimated the bushfire fallout could strip 0.4 per cent off Australia’s GDP, with the international dimension a potentially long-term drag.

“The smoke haze and the international media attention are unprecedented,” the stockbroking house said on January 23 in a note. There were ”significant tail-risks” over the longer term.

What exactly? Finally at the AFR:

By any measure, it’s been a monster perfect storm leading to a public relations nightmare, as the world watches vast tracts of Australia burn in real time on every type of channel from the BBC to Snapchat.

…Proud Queenslander Graham “Skroo” Turner – co-founder and global boss of the world’s biggest travel agency Flight Centre – agrees. He’s been selling Australia hard on the world stage since he washed up in London in the 1970s as a final year vet student who loved travel more than drenching cows.

…Ask him if “Brand Australia” can survive the fallout of the unprecedented fires that continue to blaze, and Turner is frank that the nation is at a crossroads.

“We’ve worked hard to be known as a great destination – and you can spend all the money you like on campaigns and ads to re-promote us in light of the fires, and it will probably enhance our image a bit, sure.

“The issue for tourism in terms of Brand Australia is there is a perception that Australia and the Australian government is lacking in moving to accept climate change. Whether it’s true or not is another thing. It’s the perception that is damaging and will continue to be a negative for tourism.”

*The coal-loving SmoCo Government is now the biggest risk to Australia’s tourism brand.

*He can spend your money to try to fix the damage but it is well known in marketing that editorial is much more powerful than ads.

If I were a global activist I’d begin a global consumer boycott of Australia. Even without such direct intervention individual global choices will sour on Australia. I expect the damage to tourism to be unusually lingering after this shock.

Not that that is the most pressing concern today, via the AFR:

Thousands of Chinese tourists planning to travel to Australia over the next two months have been forced to cancel their trips after Beijing slapped a ban on tour groups overseas in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Tour operators in China said on Monday they had been told the ban would be in place for as long as two months, a crippling blow for Australia’s tourism industry, which is already reeling from months of devastating bushfires and relies heavily on visitors from China.

A tour group from China does Sydney’s famous bridge climb. Groups like these are now banned, at least for a month but possibly two.

This could get much worse than that very quickly.

Philip Hine surveys the ruins of his property in Wytaliba, New South Wales

Photo: Guardian Australia

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.




Michael Pascoe: Look who helped sports grant corruption get the go-ahead

WHO makes up the Cabinet Expenditure Review Committee?

Michael Pascoe: Look who helped sports grant corruption get the go-ahead

Scott Morrison Bridget McKenzie

Michael Pascoe wonders who helped the sports grant scandal go ahead. Photo: Getty/TND

Michael Pascoe Contributing Editor



So Senator Bridget McKenzie, the most senior members of the coalition government and their sundry ministerial office staff are fine with corrupting community sport grants.

What about Sport Australia?

According to Sport Australia’s annual report, the board and CEO had no problems with McKenzie & Co spitting on community volunteers either.

The annual report is the formal opportunity to spell out standards, to scratch a mark in the historical record.

It’s the place to look for transparency and accountability – or at least a meek hint about the relevant minister hijacking the Australian Sports Commission’s work, traducing the sense of a fair go that Australians would like to think we embrace with our community sport.

Such a line in the annual report would cover the board and bureaucrats’ collective backside should the stink escape the political sewer, as it has.

From chairman John Wylie then: Nada. Nothing. A complete air swing.

If I remember my high school study of a A Man For All Seasons, silence is to be taken as consent. Something about the standard you walk by being the standard you accept.

Of course the chairman and directors are political appointments. What about the supposedly apolitical executive?

Kate Palmer
Outgoing Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer.

Well CEO Kate Palmer did mention the program – glowingly.

“The Community Sport Infrastructure grants program is delivering more than $100m to enhance more than 680 grassroots facilities across Australia. This is an investment in building stronger, healthier communities,” writes Ms Palmer.

Maybe someone edited out what should have completed that sentence: “… though overwhelmingly only those in marginal seats or ones the coalition thinks it might lose or could win by splashing taxpayers’ cash around at the expense of more deserving communities elsewhere”.

Ms Palmer could then have cited the $500,000 gifted to the Mosman Rowing Club, with Tony Abbott’s smiling face as a prime example of her commission’s work.

Tony Abbott
A $500,000 gift to the Mosman Rowing Club failed to help Tony Abbott resurrect his political career. Photo: AAP

Even when the McKenzie hit the fan, thanks to the absolutely excessive behaviour of the Liberal political machine trying to get Georgina Downer up in her father’s old seat of Mayo, Sport Australia is careful not to give a hint of unease about being shamelessly used and abused.

Instead, the chairman, board and CEO appear to support the rorted program, defending the indefensible.

Here is Sport Australia’s response on Wednesday to Auditor-General Grant Hehir’s bombshell: “Sport Australia acknowledges the report prepared by the Australian National Audit Office: Award of Funding under the Community Sport Infrastructure Program.

“We accept the Auditor-General’s three recommendations in the report that relate specifically to Sport Australia and have already taken significant steps to implement them, including additional measures. We seek to continually improve the administration of our grants programs for the sport sector, and there are lessons from this for the future.

“The Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program has been delivering positive outcomes for hundreds of grassroots sporting organisations and local communities around the country, supporting construction and upgrades at sporting facilities to help increase participation and get more Australians moving.

“We remain committed to delivering the very best for sport and ensuring all Australians are able to access safe, inclusive and quality community sporting facilities.”

Je ne regrette rien.

No hint of the need to stand on principle. No suggestion that the commission might have a duty to blow the whistle when the minister steals money from the most deserving community organisations in order to keep said minister’s nose in the trough. No indication that the board might regard principles more highly than their jobs.

There’s been an unsubstantiated claim on Twitter that Sport Australia troops further down the line were less insouciant, that they were outraged by their work being trashed by political hacks, that they absolutely welcomed the Auditor-General’s investigation and were, shall we say, extremely helpful in that investigation.

That claim doesn’t really need substantiating – the Sport Australia staff who worked on the program would be less than human if they didn’t feel and act that way.

Ms Palmer announced in October she would not be seeking a new contract when her three-year term expires at the end of this month. That was considered a shock at the time of the announcement.

Sydney Morning Herald sports writer Roy Masters reported she is returning to Melbourne, where her mother is seriously ill. He also noted Ms Palmer has learned government-speak during her time in Canberra:

Asked to comment whether she had earlier expressed concerns on the way Senator McKenzie’s Department of Sport distributed the grants, Palmer said: ‘I’m not prepared to comment on that’.’’

It leaves the board to defend its lack of action or protest, which it has not.

Since 2013, the coalition has made an art form out of stacking commonwealth bodies and boards with mates.

Remember that one of the very first decisions of the Abbott government, via Julie Bishop, was to pull Steve Bracks off a plane to New York where he was to be our Consul-General, instead giving that perk to climate change denier Nick Minchin.

Such is the stacking that all such boards and positions have a whiff about them. Like the community sports grants, are they there on merit or the opposite?

That means it’s incumbent on commonwealth bodies to be seen to act above the political trough. Thus far, the Australian Sports Commission, alias Sport Australia, has not.

This dispiriting situation is not without humour, if your sense of humour is dark enough. Elsewhere in the annual report, Ms Palmer wrote: “Sport volunteers are the lifeblood of our industry and we acknowledge the difficulty for grassroots community clubs to raise funds. (Especially when they are being played for mugs by corrupt politicians.)

“That is why Sport Australia has worked very hard with the Australian Sports Foundation and the 50-50 Foundation to launch the Play for Purpose charity raffle. It is an alternative funding source for sports and we intend to see it grow.” (Because at least in a raffle, you have an equal chance of winning – unless maybe it’s being run out of Bridget McKenzie’s office. The community sports grant roulette wheel was totally fixed.)

OK, the parentheses and italics are mine. It’s still pretty funny though – having remained mute while “the lifeblood of our industry” was shat on from a great height, Sport Australia thinks it’s great for volunteers to hit the streets selling raffle tickets.

The compliant board could start by spending all its collective remuneration on those raffle tickets.

And the annual report did include an example of a community grant that was not in a marginal seat – Scott Morrison holds Cook very comfortably. Records Sport Australia (and this time the italics are not mine): One grant recipient under the Community Sport Infrastructure grant was the San Souci Football Club.

During a visit to the San Souci Football Club to open their new facilities, Prime Minister Scott Morrison discussed our Move It AUS grants programs and explained why keeping active is important for all Australians. Prime Minister Morrison says the Community Sport Infrastructure grants are not just an investment in bricks and mortar, but an investment in local communities.

“‘It’s the discussions you have around the BBQ or the tuckshop on the weekend when you’re working with other parents or along the sidelines. That’s where communities come together and that’s why you’ve got to make these investments and we’re just so pleased to do it, and to have the partnership with Sport Australia who are delivering this, I think is just tremendous.”’

The San Souci Football Club received a Move It AUS Community Sport Infrastructure grant of $50,000, which was used to build new facilities, including a new clubhouse.

Melissa Robertson, the San Souci Football Club president said: “To get a grant is just amazing. Before, we had the canteen, one little change room and a store room. It was extremely old and rundown. Now we have the clubhouse to rival the Taj Mahal.”

I’m guessing the discussions around the barbecue or the tuckshop on the weekend for most people who made grant applications is that the government defrauded them and that Scott Morrison’s stated reason for spending taxpayers’ money was, er, economical with the truth.

Who knew the truth?

Well, the Cabinet Expenditure Review Committee thought Bridget McKenzie was doing such a great job with the grants, her budget was increased from $70 million to $100 million. Those marginal seats weren’t going to buy themselves.

The Cabinet Expenditure Review Committee consists of the “Prime Minister, Treasurer, the Minister for Finance, along with other selected portfolio ministers”.

That’s Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Mathias Cormann – the who’s who of the Liberal Party, its leader, deputy leader and leader in the Senate.

No wonder Bridget McKenzie is not being forced to resign.

Look who she could name as co-conspirators.

Scott Morrison Bridget McKenzie




CALL for SYDNEY Residents to act over Review of SYDNEY Harbour Federation Trust

THIS … IF anything should RING the Alarm Bells! Be very concerned in view of the Federal Coalition Agenda of Privatisation, and the NSW Government track record!

-NSW sell-off of $BILLIONS of public assets including Public Housing

OUR magnificent Sydney Harbour Historic Sites … are they up for a Sell-Out … or the very least … commercialization? Cough … cough …

Manly’s North Head and Mosman’s Georges Heights

Middle Head, Chowder Bay, Cockatoo Island, Sub Base Platypus, Woolwich Dock and Parklands, the former Marine Biological Station at Watson’s Bay and the Macquarie Lightstation in Vaucluse

AUSTRALIA NEEDS TO TALK … and not be Silenced!

WHAT CAAN wants you to do … COPY AND PASTE THIS into an Email for your Contacts … EVERYONE needs to know … in Sydney, New South Wales … across Australia ... we all need to be talking about this!

The recipients can then forward the email onto their contacts …

FOLLOWING this why not ask the people in your street, club, community to write to The Editor of all the papers … of your Objections!

DEMANDING that our Governments … act in the interests of Australian Heritage and ensure the protection of our Historic Sites from sell-off or commercialization!

BE AWARE that pretty much to date oodles of submissions have been written to be ignored … by all means write submissions but do let others know by sharing and following through as outlined above!

EXTRACT: Wikipedia: Sussan Ley

‘ … In January 2017, an examination of Ley’s expenditure claims and travel entitlements revealed she had purchased an apartment on the Gold Coast, close to the business premises of her partner, for $795,000 whilst on official business in Queensland. Ley defended the purchase, saying her work in the Gold Coast was legitimate, that all travel had been within the rules for entitlements, and that the purchase of the apartment “was not planned nor anticipated”[20] (a claim which was widely derided).[21] On 8 January, Ley released a statement acknowledging that the purchase had changed the context of her travel, and undertaking to repay the government for the cost of the trip in question as well as three others.[22] The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Ley had made 27 taxpayer-funded trips to the Gold Coast in recent years.[23]

On 9 January 2017, Ley announced that she would stand aside from her ministerial portfolios until an investigation into her travel expenses was completed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. She announced that she would not be making her diaries public.[24] On 13 January 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Ley had resigned from the ministry.[25] Greg Hunt was appointed as Ley’s replacement as the Minister for Health and Sport, and Ken Wyatt was appointed Assistant Minister for Health and Minister for Indigenous Health and Aged Care,[26] both with effect from 24 January 2017.[27]

In May 2018 Ley introduced a private member’s bill to ban the live export of sheep.[28][29]

During the second Liberal Party of Australia leadership spill of 2018, Ley signed the petition requesting to hold a party meeting to determine the leadership of the Liberal party.[30]

On 26 August 2018, Ley was appointed Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories[31] in the Morrison Government.

On 26 May 2019, Ley was announced as Minister for the Environment,[32] to replace Melissa Price.’

MP Zali Steggall with Middle Harbour behind. Picture: Julian Andrews.
MP Zali Steggall with Middle Harbour behind. Picture: Julian Andrews.

Zali Steggall calls for residents to act over review of Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

Zali Steggall calls for residents to act over review of Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

The future of some of Sydney Harbour’s historic sites including North Head and Georges Heights could be at risk of development, says MP Zali Steggall.

Julie Cross, Manly Daily

January 19, 2020

Subscriber only|January 19, 2020 12:00am

North Head and Manly from the air during a Sydney Seaplanes scenic flight. Picture: Troy Snook.
North Head and Manly from the air during a Sydney Seaplanes scenic flight. Picture: Troy Snook.

Warringah MP Zali Steggall is calling for the public to have their say on the future of Manly’s North Head and Mosman’s Georges Heights if they don’t want another “Barangaroo on their doorstep”.

She said the State Government has set up‘an independent review of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust’ which currently manages the two iconic spots.

It also ‘manages’ other historic foreshore locations including Middle Head, Chowder Bay, Cockatoo Island, Sub Base Platypus, Woolwich Dock and Parklands, the former Marine Biological Station at Watson’s Bay and the Macquarie Lightstation in Vaucluse.

MP Zali Steggall with Middle Harbour behind. Picture: Julian Andrews.
MP Zali Steggall with Middle Harbour behind. Picture: Julian Andrews.

The review announced by the Minister for Environment Sussan Ley, will consider the trust’s “legislative, financial and governance arrangements” and identify pathways to maximise public access to its sites on Sydney Harbour.

Joseph Carrozzi, the chairman of the Harbour Trust, said it is an opportunity for the agency to “take stock of our achievements and ensure arrangements for our places are fit for the future”.

Ms Steggall said if the state government decides to take back responsibility for the land many fear some of the spots could be commercialised.

“These precious parcels of land are iconic,” Ms Steggall said.

“Being on the harbour they speak to all Australians, especially to us as local residents who are very concerned about what might happen.

“If we don’t want a Barangaroo development on our doorstep people should be interested in this issue.”

Buildings on the 10 Terminal site which are in need of renovation. Picture: Monique Harmer.
Buildings on the 10 Terminal site which are in need of renovation. Picture: Monique Harmer.

She said the land should be preserved and the trust should be properly funded, citing the poor state of some of the army buildings at North Head and the naval heritage buildings of 10 Terminal in Mosman.

“These places should remain available to the community not become commercialised, that’s the biggest concern,” Ms Steggall said.

Ms Jean Hay, former Mayor of Manly and Deputy Chairman of the Harbour Trust, said the board welcomed the independent review and believed there was no “ulterior motive” behind it.

She said the organisation which was mainly self-funded hoped that the findings would support the trust’s work and lead to more funds.

Ms Hay also said she did not believe that the state government intended to commercialise the land.

Ms Steggall said volunteers have been doing letterbox drops to alert residents of the review.

And she encouraged people to send in submissions.

She also encouraged should also attend the review panel’s public forum on February 18 from 6pm to 8pm at Pullman Sydney Hyde Park, 36 College St, Sydney.

To book a place go to

Photo: Middle Head Sydney. Visit Sydney Australia.




Minister McKenzie spits in the face of decency, ethics and every decent Australian

A good comment …

‘Government has become an abstract concept and the general populace rarely makes the link between Government incompetence or malfeasance and themselves, unless they are directly impacted by an event.

Thank you for pointing out the impact of this apalling betrayal of public trust Mr. Pascoe. All of us need to be reminded that the Government is our Government, and that Government employees work for us, the people, not the other way around. We all need to take a more active role, as you have done.’

Minister McKenzie spits in the face of decency, ethics and every decent Australian

Bridget McKenzie's sports grants scandal shows her lack of respect.

Senator Bridget McKenzie showed a complete lack of respect for the public in her handling of sports grants. Photo: The New Daily

Michael PascoeContributing Editor



There is no news in this column. You’ll learn nothing more of the $100 million Bridget McKenzie sports grants scandal than has already graced the headlines.

This is merely an attempt to humanise the loss, to push through the protective skin of cynicism that has formed about the Australian heart when confronted with another example of political malfeasance.

They all do it,” we mutter with passing disgust and turn the page.

Come the next election we acquiesce to giving them the chance to do it again. !!!!!!

And it’s not as if Senator McKenzie’s effective theft of money from deserving community sporting organisations was a matter of life or death, or at least not obviously.

nationals leadership bridget mckenzie
Senator Bridget McKenzie raided the public purse to buy votes. Photo: AAP

It’s not as if she was underfunding rural fire services or failing to acquire an adequate aerial firefighting force or resisting carbon emissions reductions.

But the deputy leader of the National Party, next-in-line to a sometimes-acting Prime Minister, and her hack ministerial advisers did trample people to use your money to keep their snouts and that of their colleagues in the public trough.

There are the obvious people used and abused in the process – the community sports volunteers and Sport Australia staff Senator McKenzie teased and misled with the supposed availability of grants, the people she encouraged to diligently work for a sound cause, the people she lied to and discarded.

Then there are the less obvious souls – the people who were more deserving of government assistance than those who were targeted for their votes in marginal seats.

These people represent the opportunity cost of base political bribery – what greater good could have been achieved with the better use of public money, with the ethical, rather than unethical, use of your money?

It’s been a while since I was involved in community sport, quite a while, but it left me with a conviction about the general nobility of the cause.

Taking your turn with the sausages and the BBQ, helping set up and dismantle, coaching, washing the jerseys, sitting through the annual meeting, it’s all good stuff.

And, when done well, it’s brilliant. In particular when young people are encouraged to play in good spirit, to understand and grow to love teamwork, to broaden their experiences and challenge themselves, it can be a very fine thing indeed.

There are the usual claimed health benefits of sport, of course, but there is more than that at stake. Hand on heart, I think over the years I’ve seen lives positively influenced by community sport, young lives maybe moulded a little for the better by the experience of people taking care of each other.

Community sport is a good thing.
Community sport does a world of good for young Aussies. Photo: Getty

Team sport as we generally know it is not for everyone, for some it is nothing at all or worse, but there are others for whom it has been very important indeed, kids who might not otherwise have been touched by a sense of beneficial community.

Senator McKenzie spat on those people.

She decided they weren’t important, that buying a few votes was more important than honourably discharging her elected duty.

Nothing displays a politician’s treason – putting personal interests before the nation’s best interests – than a willingness to raid the public purse for partisan gain.

Then there are those volunteers who carefully read the grants’ guidelines, who jumped through the hoops and spent the hours, the many hours working up a deserving application. There would have been meetings – meetings! – to agree on what was needed and what might be sought.

The volunteers are generally true believers in their community and sport, in the fellowship and help it provides, in that quaint old idea of “society”.

Senator McKenzie and her hacks toyed with those good people, played with their hopes and betrayed them.

The game was rigged. The ref was corrupt. They never had a chance.

The volunteers preparing those deserving submissions were amateurs playing against seasoned cynical political pros. They weren’t even playing the same game – the volunteers playing community, the political hacks playing pure political self-interest.

And what about the good people at Sport Australia who tried to run an honest contest? If you want your soul destroyed, try being honest in an overwhelmingly corrupt system.

Do your work, put in the hours, maybe find some little community gems that you’d like to think you could help shine, take some pride as a bureaucrat in a good outcome from a professional process  – only to have loathsome political advisors in the minister’s office rip up your work and bury those gems.

The first recommendation of the ex-Telstra chief David Thodey’s public service review to be dismissed out of hand by the government was that political advisers should have a code of conduct. You can guess why.

The erosion of the Australian Public Service by successive governments’ white-anting has reached its peak with the political hacks in ministers’ offices riding roughshod over departments and bodies such as Sport Australia. No care and less responsibility.

There may have been an occasion when the Auditor General has been blunter about the structural corruption of a minister’s office, but I can’t at this moment recall it. Says the ANOA report:

The award of funding reflected the approach documented by the Minister’s Office of focusing on ‘marginal’ electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be ‘targeted’ by the Coalition at the 2019 Election.

There is some irony in the initial impetus for the audit coming from Georgina Downer’s stunt at a bowling club in the family ancestral seat she failed to win.

It was tacky and obviously dodgy at the time for the Liberal candidate – not even an incumbent MP – to be proffering $127,373 of our money in a Liberal-branded mega-cheque, barrel girl style. 

As it turned out, the good folk of Mayo were not so easily bought.

I don’t know if the Yankalilla Bowling Club was one of the more deserving applicants for a grant, scoring close to 100 on the Sport Australia system, or one of the rubbish efforts.

It might or might not have been the application that scored just 39 point but was plucked from the Sport Australia bin by Senator McKenzie for purely political purposes.

But her office stealing millions from the most deserving community sports clubs to buy votes has ended up staining the whole process.

The decency deficit

Did your club win a grant in Bridget’s rigged game? Did you deserve it – or are you the recipient of stolen goods? Does the Yankalilla Bowling Club and others like it in marginal seats feel a little bit soiled by association now or doesn’t it care how it came by the taxpayers’ dosh?

And finally, there’s Sport Australia.

Where was the protest? Where was the mass resignation? What does it say about the integrity of the board that it stood by mute while its staff’s honest work was trashed and the Sport Australia name was traduced as a fig leaf for political corruption?

Maybe Sport Australia’s chiefs, like Bridget McKenzie, her staff and her fellow ministers and their staff, are only in it for themselves and are not interested in promoting and protecting best practice with public funds.

We need a real Federal ICAC yesterday. There’s no way this government will allow one.

Bridget McKenzie's sports grants scandal shows her lack of respect.




An Aussie invention could soon cut five per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions

AUSTRALIAs position as a global leader in renewables installation is uncertain because the Renewable Energy Target, which was achieved in 2019, has not been extended. *

WITH supportive policy … and less idiocy

scott morrison coal climate change

Solar energy is vast, ubiquitous and indefinitely sustainable.

An Aussie invention could soon cut five per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions

australian energy challenges

An Australian invention could transform the energy industry. Photo: Getty

Andrew Blakers


In the 1980s, a global race was underway to find a more efficient way of converting energy from the sun into electricity.

Some 30 years ago, our research team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) came up with a breakthrough, called the PERC silicon solar cell. The cells have become the most widely deployed electricity generation technology in terms of capacity added globally each year – comfortably exceeding wind, coal, gas, hydro and others.

PERC stands for Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell. By the end of this year, PERC technology will be mitigating about 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions by displacing coal burning.

Assuming that its rapid growth continues, it should be reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by the mid-2020s and possibly much more in later years.

The terrible bushfires in Australia this summer, enhanced by the hottest and driest year on record in 2019, underline the need for urgent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. By far the most effective way is driving coal out of electricity systems through very rapid deployment of solar and wind.

Soon, our Aussie invention will be generating half the world’s solar power. It is a pertinent reminder of Australia’s capacity for finding transformative technical solutions to address climate change. * But we need the right government support.*

An Aussie invention

Solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity without moving parts. More efficient solar cells generally produce cheaper electricity because fewer solar cells, glass covers, transport, land and support structures are needed for a given solar power output.

By the early 1980s, the best laboratory cells around the world had reached 17% efficiency. This means that 17% of the sunlight was converted to electricity, and the rest (83%) of the solar energy was lost (as heat).

During the 1980s, our research team at UNSW led by Martin Green and myself created a series of world-record-efficient silicon solar cells. We reported 18% efficiency in 1984, 19% efficiency also in 1984, and the important milestone of 20% efficiency in 1986.

In 1989 our group reported new solar cell design called “PERC”, with a record efficiency of 22-23%.

This new, more efficient cell was better than the old ones because we eliminated some defects in the silicon crystal surface, which led to lower electronic losses. The PERC design also enabled us to capture the sunlight more effectively.

In the 1990s, further improvements to laboratory PERC cells were made at UNSW, leading to cells in the 24-25% efficiency range. The global silicon solar cell efficiency record remained at UNSW until recently.

There was a 25-year gap between development of the PERC cell and its rapid commercial adoption, which began in 2013. During this time, many people worked to adapt the PERC design to commercial production.

solar power
An Aussie invention could be generating half the world’s solar power

PERC cells are more efficient than previous commercial cells. Strong incentives for more efficient cells have recently arisen due to the continually falling share of cell costs as a proportion of total solar power system costs (including transport, land and mounting systems).

The big benefits of solar

Currently, solar power constitutes more than 40% of net new electricity generation capacity additions, with fossil, nuclear, wind, hydro and other renewables making up the balance.

Solar is growing faster than the other electricity generation technologies. Over time, as fossil-fuelled power stations are retired, solar (and wind) will dominate electricity production, with consequent large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

solar power
Solar power has experienced rapid growth over decades, while other technologies are experiencing static or falling sales. Source:

This year, enough PERC solar modules will be sold to generate 60-70 gigawatts of power. According to projections, PERC will reach three quarters of annual solar module sales in the mid-2020s, enough to match the generation capacity additions from all other technologies combined.

About A$50 billion worth of PERC modules have been sold to date. This is expected to reach several hundred billion Australian dollars later this decade.

Just imagine

Australian emissions (excluding those from bushfiresare falling because we are installing solar and wind four times faster per capita than the EU, US, Japan and China.

*Our position as a global leader in renewables installation is uncertain because the Renewable Energy Target, which was achieved in 2019, has not been extended. *

*With supportive policy, such as facilitating more transmission to bring solar and wind power to the cities, Australia could greatly increase the speed at which wind and solar are deployed, yielding rapid and deep cuts at about zero-net cost.

Such policy would entail stronger and sustained government support for renewables deployment, and research and development of new technologies.

Looking ahead

Solar energy is vast, ubiquitous and indefinitely sustainable.

Simple calculations show that less than 1% of the world’s land area would be required to provide all of the world’s energy from solar power – much of it on building roofs, in deserts and floating on water bodies.

Solar systems use only very common materials (we could never run out), have minimal need for mining (about 1% of that needed for equivalent fossil or nuclear fuels), have minimal security and military risks (we will never go to war over solar access), cannot have significant accidents (unlike nuclear), and have minimal environmental impact over unlimited time scales.

Australia is making major contributions to mitigating climate change both through rapid deployment of wind and solar and technology development such as our PERC cells.

But with better government support, much more can be done – quickly and at low cost.

Andrew Blakers is Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University. His research interests are in the area of solar energy systems.This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

australian energy challenges




Morrison Govt targeted Marginal Seats in potentially illegal sports grants scheme … auditor general reports!

THIS is how it’s done … How good’s this?

IT really looks Crook!

Labor sport spokesperson Senator Don Farrell said the report revealed “industrial-scale pork barrelling”.

“I think it’s very clear that the Government did not expect to win the last election,” he said.

“They thought they could get away with all this pork barrelling, save a few extra seats, and it’s come back to bite them in a very big way.”

Federal government targeted marginal seats in potentially illegal sports grants scheme, auditor-general reports

By political reporter Jack Snape

Updated 16 JANUARY 2020

Bridget McKenzie holds her fists up during senate estimates.

PHOTO: Bridget McKenzie was sport minister at the time of the program. (ABC News: Toby Hunt)

RELATED STORY: $100m sport grant scheme ‘illegal’ according to former senior government lawyer

RELATED STORY: Teams in marginal seats scored big with government grants. Emma’s wasn’t one of them, so she gets changed outside

RELATED STORY: Recommended sports clubs shunned as new details emerge in Georgina Downer cheque scandal

A contentious $100 million pre-election cash splash by the Federal Government was focused on marginal and target seats.

Key points:

  • The Government spent $100 million on grants for the Community Sport Infrastructure Program in the months leading up to the election
  • The office of then-sports minister Bridget McKenzie identified target electorates as part of assessing grant applicants
  • The auditor-general found a bias of funding towards marginal and target seats

*The findings from the auditor-general, released on Wednesday, also raise the prospect that the entire scheme was illegal, noting there did not appear to be any legal authority for then-sports minister Bridget McKenzie to have picked recipients.

The report into the Community Sports Infrastructure Grant program discovered “evidence of distribution bias in the award of grant funding”.

Labor sport spokesperson Senator Don Farrell said the report revealed “industrial-scale pork barrelling”.

“I think it’s very clear that the Government did not expect to win the last election,” he said.

“They thought they could get away with all this pork barrelling, save a few extra seats, and it’s come back to bite them in a very big way.”

Hundreds of grants were recommended for funding by Sport Australia but were rejected by the minister, whose office earmarked some seats as “marginal” and “targeted”, and funnelled money towards those.

Projects in these electorates applied for 36 per cent of the funding, and received 47 per cent of the amount approved in the first round.

“The award of funding reflected the approach documented by the minister’s office of focusing on ‘marginal’ electorates held by the Coalition as well as those electorates held by other parties or independent members that were to be ‘targeted’ by the Coalition at the 2019 election,” the report stated.

“Applications from projects located in those electorates were more successful in being awarded funding than if funding was allocated on the basis of merit assessed against the published program guidelines.”

In the third round of the program, 73 per cent of projects given funding were not recommended by Sport Australia.

A spokesperson for Senator McKenzie said the program was “very popular” and all recipients were eligible.

“The ANAO [Australian National Audit Office] report is clear that no rules were broken.”

Sport Minister Richard Colbeck echoed his colleague, noting “as the ANAO report found, no applications assessed as ineligible were awarded grant funding.”

Decisions inconsistent with guidelines

The report notes testimony from the minister’s office included the argument that the guidelines included a reference to “other factors” being taken into consideration.

The minister’s former chief of staff, quoted in the report, also argued “the success of the program relied on the support across Parliament so needed to make sure the spread of projects reflected the statistics and could be seen as fair”.

Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer hands over a novelty cheque to the Yankalilla Bowling Club.

PHOTO: Former Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer — not the local sitting independent member — handed over a cheque as part of the scheme. (Facebook: Georgina Downer — Liberal for Mayo)

However the report declared advice about assessing the applications was inconsistent with the guidelines.

“The minister’s office drew upon considerations other than those identified in the program guidelines, such as the location of projects, and also applied considerations that were inconsistent with the published guidelines,” it stated.

“It was this assessment process that predominantly informed the minister’s funding decisions, rather than Sport Australia’s process.”

The report also suggests the entire scheme may have been illegal, with no apparent legal authority for the minister to make these decisions.

“It is not evident to the ANAO what the legal authority was,” it said.

Former government lawyer Ian Cunliffe believes the scheme is open to legal challenge by unsuccessful applicants.

“If it was [an application worth] half a million dollars and I was on the board of one of the sports bodies involved I would be pushing very strongly that it be done,” Mr Cunliffe said last year.

Deserving projects missed out

The report highlighted decisions where positively assessed applications missed out on funding.

In the then Labor-held Tasmanian electorate of Braddon — identified as a ‘targeted’ electorate by the minister — the fourth and fifth-ranked applications were approved in round one, but the highest-ranked application (with a score of 93) was not approved for funding in any round.

The auditor-general found reasons for funding decisions were not clearly documented.

The approach caused problems for Sport Australia, which was unable to provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

“Sport Australia was unable to communicate the full and actual reasons for the rejection of their application, or otherwise provide those applicants with advice on the reasons for their application being unsuccessful,” the report stated.

Kate Palmer alongside Mike Baird and Stuart Ayers

PHOTO: Sport Australia chief executive Kate Palmer (centre) during her period in charge of Netball Australia. (AAP: Paul Miller)

The auditor-general also recommended Sport Australia address problems of conflict of interest, noting an “undeclared and unmanaged conflict of interest involving a senior Sport Australia employee” with responsibility for the program.

“There is a risk that the sport linked to this organisation was provided with a competitive advantage compared to other sports and potential applicants by that Sport Australia employee,” the report said.

“Sport Australia advised the ANAO that it took action in relation to this issue.”

Sport Australia chief executive Kate Palmer is stepping down this month.

Ms Palmer is not the senior Sport Australia employee referenced in the report in relation to the conflict of interest.

Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer hands over a novelty cheque to the Yankalilla Bowling Club.