Opinion Madonna King: Public faith in our political system is at an all-time low, and it’s no surprise

Madonna King: Public faith in our political system is at an all-time low, and it’s no surprise

Madonna King
There are many instances that highlight a lack of transparency and accountability, writes Madonna King.
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Is it any wonder public faith in our political system is at an all-time low?

And if there was any doubt about that, the government’s move to block an attempt to have Christian Porter’s use of a blind trust to pay part of his legal fees referred to Parliament’s Privileges Committee provides sterling evidence.

Has this government no shame when it comes to transparency?

Does it not understand the importance of accountability in making decisions?

Speaker Tony Smith believed an investigation by the powerful privileges committee was warranted, so the government simply thwarted that, by using its numbers.

And politics is a numbers’ game – when it comes to winning positions and seats.

It should never be when it comes to policy and providing voters with the confidence that our elected MPs are governing for all of us.

But we shouldn’t be surprised.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government are sitting on a catalogue of cover-ups, all obscuring questionable decisions on the use of taxpayer – our – funds.

Just consider these examples.

The commuter car park affair

Thanks to the Auditor-General we know the Morrison government signed off on a program to spend more than $600 million on commuter car parks, mainly in winnable seats just days before the last election.

The program, according to Australian National Audit Office evidence to a Senate committee, began life as a document “termed as being top 20 marginals”.

But we won’t be seeing that document any decade soon because it’s been stamped ‘Cabinet Confidential’, deemed to be outside FOI laws, and won’t be related for 30 years. (Thankfully, the government never got around to building most of the car parks which is another issue all together – and that’s more about competence than cover-up).

The airport land bonanza

Again thanks to the Auditor-General, we know that the government paid 10 times market price for 12ha of land linked to the development of Sydney Airport.

The $29.8 million was paid to one of Australia’s wealthiest families on the say so of a valuer they had recommended but less than a year later it was found to be valued at $3 million.

The Australian National Audit Office, in reporting on it, told Parliament it was investigating issues of integrity in the transaction – but noted the issue was with administrative actions, not decisions at a ministerial level.

The office cover-up

The Prime Minister tasked his departmental secretary Phil Gaetjens with investigating who knew what about the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins in Parliament House.

The allegations were first made at the beginning of this year.

The Prime Minister promised in March they would soon be available but it was revealed a few weeks later they were already on hold, pending legal action.

This was not an inquiry into the alleged offence but into the state of knowledge in government offices of what was claimed to have happened.

JobKeeper rorts

It’s now understood that many corporations were well and truly overpaid JobKeeper allowance when COVID-19 hit last year.

We know this because some have paid back the money, and others have paid bonuses to executives for their strong performance during the lockdowns.

So who was paid what? It’s a secret.

The corruption commission

Scott Morrison promised in the lead up to the last federal election to create an independent commission to investigate corruption within the federal government.

With just months (maybe weeks) left of his government, we are yet to see what it will look like, or whether it will have real powers.

Is he really planning to do anything at all?

What we do know is that it won’t have the powers to launch independent investigations or conduct public inquiries like those commissions operating at a state basis.

Nothing to see here? You bet.

The list could go on, but each highlights a lack of transparency, an ignorance of accountability, and the contempt with which voters are being held.

So why would any of us expect anything different when it comes to Christian Porter’s blind trust?

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