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Thus Spake Mungo: duck-shoving

In the far-off innocent days before the spin doctors decreed that backbenchers should cease thinking for themselves and instead parrot the talking points devised to avoid saying anything meaningful at all, a few brave souls were prepared to respond to questions more or less spontaneously.

One such was an amiable but undistinguished South Australian Liberal, Geoffrey O’Halloran Giles, who, when chided by a journalist about a delay over a matter of some urgency over a cabinet decision, replied with devastating candour and utter sincerity: ‘The government, in due course, acted promptly.’

The line became a standing joke, an all-purpose excuse for procrastination, dithering and general duck-shoving, it became a slogan for leaving difficult matters on the backburner, in the hope that if a thing were ignored for long enough it would simply disappear.

The slogan has now been resurrected – in all seriousness – by Scott Morrison and his Attorney-General Christian Porter, in their determination to make sure that any worthwhile version of a national integrity bill is never allowed to pass the Australian parliament.

Of course they claim they are both fully committed to action – but not yet

Of course they claim they are both fully committed to action – but not yet. There are more important priorities; they have been working, for every second of every minute of every hour of every day, in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Well, most of the time, anyway; they have had to leave a bit of room for electioneering in Queensland and for denigrating Daniel Andrews in Victoria, with a touch of bashing unions, universities and the ABC on the side. But that doesn’t count, that’s just routine, like cleaning your teeth and combing your hair, if there’s any left of either.

And it stands to reason that if the politicians are a bit preoccupied, the public service must be as well – it had bloody well better be if it knows what’s good for it. This is a whole-of-government exercise, which means that we’re all in this together –which side are you on? And it’s not as if nothing has happened in the years since the integrity bill first emerged as a major announcement. Indeed, Porter tells us proudly that a document has actually been drafted – in fact it was drafted almost a year ago, inconveniently before COVID-19 became an issue.

But the time for consultation about it – meaning the extent to which any teeth it may have possessed can be pulled before enactment – will have to wait until the virus is beaten or, more probably, the parliament is prorogued in time for the next election. We don’t want any unnecessary distractions.

Unfortunately reality keeps intruding. Turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, or just glance at social media – the news is all about fresh shenanigans, dodgy deals, shonks and spivs inside government

But unfortunately reality keeps intruding. Turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, or just glance at social media – the news is all about fresh shenanigans, dodgy deals, shonks and spivs inside government – or on the fringes of it – corruption hard, soft, or just a little flexible. As Labor’s Tony Burke pointed out last week, in a parliamentary question that was instantly ruled out of order, it was harder to find the absence of scandal in Morrison’s government than to pin it down.

There are royal commissions, police investigations, parliamentary inquiries and numerous other bodies probing allegations of malfeasance at all levels. But Morrison and Porter and their colleagues continue to pretend that it really isn’t their problem, that all the relevant authorities are dealing with it, and that verdicts and sentences will be delivered without fear or favour, don’t you worry about that.

Well they may be delivered, but they are unlikely to be enforced if they do not follow the less stringent rules determined by the prime minister and his mates. When Alan Tudge, acting as Immigration Minister, was ordered to release an asylum seeker by the Administrative Review Tribunal, he refused, because he just didn’t like the result. Geoffrey Flick, a federal court judge, said this amounted to criminal conduct on Tudge’s part, but the minister was unabashed, as was Porter.

It’s not the first time that in the robust environment of the law surrounding visa approvals that there’s been strong words said about what is in effect government undertaking its duties through the minister

‘It’s not the first time that in the robust environment of the law surrounding visa approvals that there’s been strong words said about what is in effect government undertaking its duties through the minister,’ opined the first law officer of the commonwealth. 

This may well be true, but it is hardly encouraging. The ideals of the supremacy of the law, equality for all, the separation of powers, are, we like to think, neither controversial nor negotiable. But in ScoMoland, things are seldom what they seem. If a rule can be bent, then it will be. And if it can’t be bent, it will just have to be broken.

It is more about securing access, making certain that self-interest will not be ignored when the big decisions are being made

The corruption at the heart of the federal government does not usually take the form of brown paper bags full of small unmarked notes  – this is the purview of state governments, or more blatantly still, local governments. It is more about securing access, making certain that self-interest will not be ignored when the big decisions are being made.

Of course it involves money, but mainly through donations to the parties rather than directly into the wallets of individuals. This is somehow seen as less heinous than the slipping of the occasional backhander, but in fact it is far more insidious, not to mention profitable, for the malefactors.

The horror story of last week was the revelation that Christine Holgate, the obscenely overpaid CEO of Australia Post, had given four of her top executives free Cartier watches

Thus the horror story of last week was the revelation that Christine Holgate, the obscenely overpaid CEO of Australia Post, had given four of her top executives free Cartier watches. And ScoMo was apoplectic – he was appalled and shocked, Holgate was to be stood down forthwith, inquiries would be undertaken, heads would roll!

This was from the leader of the government in which honesty is for wimps and losers and obedience to the law is an optional extra, where the numbers are everything and ethics are forgotten. But a bonus of just under $20,000 is regarded as outrageous and unacceptable.

Well, you have to draw the line somewhere. But not too firmly or consistently, because there are other priorities. And of course we will get around to an integrity commission, if we can find someone to redefine the word to mean ‘whatever it takes.’ And that will be a firm promise of a definite maybe – well, in due course.


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13 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: duck-shoving”

  1. Stefanie says:

    While the Marketers dream on the rest of us corrode into the dingy dark of
    what could & should have been. Turn over, find a new leaf? nah! None to
    be found in the air, on the ground. It’s whiplash time again so start your
    grieving.

  2. Alice Johnson says:

    In the far-off wooly days for sure when the sheep were shorn and they were bleating there was McMahan, Frazer, Hawke and we can’t surely forget Paul Keating. The yarn was spun and many a media journo was hung out to dry, in the ferocity of the verbosity coming off the tongue it was enough to make you cry.
    But today, people just nod their head as they say “Good day”to the back bench and the backbenchers there, and say “Good Blimy are you a politician” for the promises told to turn money to gold they surely have to be a magician.
    With an almighty gasp, a question was asked about the land that was sold for the Airport at Badgerys Creek.

  3. Ken says:

    I have never seen a more accurate synopsis of Australian politics.
    Either you have had an epiphany, with a serene moment of clarity, or like some of us you have finally faced the despair and have become as ‘bitter and twisted’ as it takes, to see behind the curtain of ‘plausible deniability’ and political “newspeak”.
    Cheers, G”)

  4. Graeme Batterbury says:

    Extremely well articulated Mungo ….. you have lost none of your acumen!

  5. Spot on, Alice. 29.84 million dollar question. 10 times ‘market price’ – or
    should one say Made Up price. The family & so many others are, I am
    sure, besotted by their luck. Another who-done-it.

    • Joachim says:

      ‘The Leppington Triangle’, where taxpayer money just disappears – I can’t claim credit for that line as a letter writer to The SMH Newspaper got that one published. But it just another working over of the punters courtesy of ScamMOfromMarketings who presides over a donation to The Leppington Branch of The Liberal Party aka the Perich Brothers, the long time supporters and $political donors to The Liberal Party. This revelation hot on the heels of ScamMOfromMarketings and Joshua Fraudenberg handing over $8.7millions from The Budget to Trevor St Baker and his / Vales Point Coal Power Station who is also a long time supporter and $political donations to The Liberal Party. You will recall that “be Like Mike” Baird gave away the NSW taxpayer owned Vales Point Coal Power Station to Trevor St Baker in 2015 for a nominal $1million ( no, it no misprint ), only for Vales Point to recently have been revalued at $720millions! Nothing beats ‘public donations’ to your own political cronies, eh. Well done Baird, ScamMO, Fraudenberg, NOT!

  6. Ray Armstrong says:

    When is Scumo gonna STOP SHOUTING at us. He reminds me of Jim Sharman outside a boxing tent at the Easter Show (Royal deliberately omitted). A poor man’s Trump. And gawd isn’t he gonna be on the outa if Biden wins with all his hard right wing policies on coal, science denial,renewable energy and climate. Don’t windmills kill birds and cause terrible diseases (SIGH)!. Scumo, Screw Kelly, Joyce, Angus, Andrews and Co believe this crap!

  7. Who remembers Peter O’Toole playing Don Quixote! Chasing & charging
    at ‘windmills’ is an emblem of what we have on our political plate today.

  8. Footnote – & neighborhood watch is singing O’Toole’s ‘The Impossible
    Dream’.

  9. I do think it’s time Tony & Ron Perich along with McCormack & Tudge gave
    the Aussie public an answer on this unethical sale. Strange dealings???
    Indeed. Are all of ScaMo’s Liberal Doners Billionaires? Nothin’ but the best!

  10. Joachim says:

    Hello again Stephanie. In another page from the book, ‘You Can’t Make this Stuff Up’, The Perich Brothers again scored themselves a tidy little earner courtesy of us Hard Working Australian Taxpayers with McCormack waiving $3000.00 plus in airport fees and levies on Perich Brothers charter flights. As if the Perich Brothers aka Leppington Branch of The Liberal Party needed a $3,000.00 legup.. I think all us Aussies need to sign up as memebrs of The Liberal party so that we can all score some the ‘gifts’ that ScamMO, Fraudenberg, McCormack are willy nilly handing out.

  11. Yah! Right on, Joachim. “The Great Aussie Give-Away’ – then we could
    give the ‘loot’ away to the ones we know who are in need of it.

  12. ALBANESE’S INTERVIEW CAN BE FOUND ON LINE IN
    “NEW DAILY”. Headline; “On Rudd, News Corp, etc”

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