During March, in what strategists at
the time claimed was a masterstroke, Prime Minister Turnbull recalled the
Parliament from April 18 primarily to consider the reintroduction of the ABCC
legislation by the Senate. Turnbull also
advised that if the ABCC legislation was rejected in it’s current form the
response would be a double dissolution election. Others questioned why there was a ‘demonstrated’
need for an anti-corruption body responsible for the building industry and not other
areas of Federal Government influence.
The ABC News
website has a ‘explainer’
about the two pieces of legislation that Turnbull wants passed. Suffice to say here that both pieces of
legislation aim to reinstate a so called ‘corruption watchdog’ that monitor the
building industry as well as ensuring union leaders have the same
responsibilities as company directors.
Recently we discussed how well the plan had been
executed so far when ‘Continuity and Change’ was published on The
Political Sword .
In short; we concluded it hadn’t gone well and if anything, since then it hasn’t got any
better. Lets just say perception is
While Heydon’s Royal Commission did uncover some dodgy
(if not corrupt) practice, a
number of the cross-bench Senators want the legislation to set up a federal ‘ICAC
style” watchdog. Turnbull and his
Employment Minister Senator Cash have rejected the proposal. Cash
the government would negotiate in good faith in relation
to proposed amendments but they could not "compromise the integrity of the
"The government is committed to passing the bills
in either the same or substantially the same form,"
The Victorian Liberal Party is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted by introducing ‘reforms’ to protect its finances from fraud – after a former state director admitted to embezzlement of $1.5 million.
A few days after Turnbull
effectively called the election, it was reported that the NSW Electoral
Commission is withholding $4.4 million in public funding until the party can
identify who donated some $700,000 which arrived in the party’s bank accounts
via a Canberra based Trust Account called the Free Enterprise Foundation.
A couple of days later, the
Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced they were
taking Westpac to the Federal
Court over claims of rigging interest rates. Westpac aren’t alone, ASIC took similar
action against ANZ last
ASIC produce regular information
bulletins, the most recent one is here. The ‘highlights are the 105 investigations
commenced, $149 million in compensation and remediation and close to $1 million
in infringement notices that were paid (obviously not in dispute) in the six months leading up to March 2016.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has
promised a Royal Commission into the banking and finance industry if elected to
government later this year. While some
Coalition party members have agreed that the commission is warranted, Treasurer
Morrison and the Australian Bankers Association have decried the move.
In the past week, the world has seen
the release of the ‘Panama
Papers’ , an electronic dump of the files of an organisation that ‘facilitated’
the movement of funds around the world in part to avoid taxation. Apart from anything else, the quantity of
data now available makes the scale of the data held by the US Government leaked
by Edward Snowden look
small by comparison.
The Panama Papers revolve around a
firm of lawyers used by the super rich to avoid currency movements, tax payments
and so on. So far, the Prime Minister of
Iceland has resigned, the Prime Minister of Great Britain is facing some
questions (apparently he and his family had an involvement with the legal
firm). They aren’t the only ones, ‘the
ruling class’ of countries from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe are currently facing
questions. Putin in Russia is claiming
that while those close to him are implicated, he isn’t, China is literally
censoring the topic out of existence and Panama is claiming the link between
the leaked papers and their country is unwarranted! The Australian Taxation Office is commencing
investigations around the taxation affairs of the 800 Australians who were
named in the leaked documents
As Lenore Taylor, writing on The Guardian’s website
, points out while no one is accusing any Australian politician of being identified in the release of the Panama Papers, it makes Turnbull’s argument that there is no
need for a federal corruption watchdog difficult to prosecute (when each state
already has a similar body). In contrast
it makes Shorten’s argument around a Royal Commission into banking really
Perception is everything.
What do you think?