1. Invasion Day
We spent Australia Day as we would any other day, minding our own business. I was curious as to whether ‘Invasion Day’ protests has continued.
According to the latter:
- Since 2015, protests have been growing every year, supported by many non-Indigenous Australians.
The ABC article says:
Invasion Day or Survival Day demonstrations have gained momentum in recent years and coincided with a push to move Australia Day to a date considered more inclusive.
- Australia Day is considered a day of mourning by many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people
- Demonstrators are calling for a rethink on how the day is celebrated
- Protesters have gathered at a statue of Captain Cook in London
2. It’s all happening!
Richard di Natale has resigned and will leave the Senate, Bridget McKenzie has resigned conveniently on a technical conflict of interest issue, while the Australian Electoral Office has revealed the torrent of money that has flowed into the political system before the election.
The ABC is back in full swing, with new hosts for Insiders, Four Corners (Black Summer) and Q&A (Bushfires Special | Live from Queanbeyan). They were going to do Q&A from Bega, but the venue was taken over by bushfire refugees.
Climate scientist Michael Mann will be on Q&A along with Victor Steffensen in an Indigenous fire practitioner of the Tagalaka people of North Queensland.
Then there is Brexit and bad-tempered people winning tennis trophies. Our Ash Barty did us proud and showed what mattered when she brought her baby niece Olivia into the press conference after being beaten.
I’m sympathetic to di Natale wanting to spend more time with his sons, now nine and 11, while they are still interested in spending time with him. Adam Bandt and Larissa Waters are co-deputy leaders, so one would expect one of them to take over, but I wouldn’t know.
3. Politicians and public servants
John Hewson is completely scathing about Morrison’s handling of the sports rort affair. He saw it as a blatant attempt to obfuscate and termed it “duplicitous behaviour beyond belief.”
- While the Australian National Audit Office said grants were skewed to marginal seats, and the process was not informed by an appropriate assessment process or sound advice, Morrison said Gaetjens found no evidence that the process was “unduly influenced by reference to marginal or targeted electorates”.
Morrison said his departmental head found “no basis for this suggestion that political considerations were the primary determining factor” in awarding the grants. He also said the advice from the secretary was the minister had used her discretion to make funding decisions appropriately.
I was cranky with Michelle Grattan for asking Morrison at the National Press Club whether bureaucrats or politicians should be making decisions. ‘Bureaucrats’ is a derogatory term in most settings, definitely not a neutral descriptor.
Sports Australia were not garden variety bunch of public servants, they were a specialist group assembled to make the kind of decisions they were asked, through legislation, to make.
For an informed view, go to Andrew Podger, Honorary Professor of Public Policy at Australian National University in The ‘sports rorts’ affair shows the government misunderstands the role of the public service.
We need, as Podger says at the end:
- a parliamentary integrity officer or organisation, either an anti-corruption authority or a conflict of interest and ethics commissioner of the kind that exists in Canada.
At present we have a seriously corrupted political system.
I’m a bit tired of people who say “both sides do it” and point to what Ros Kelly did in the mid-1990s. Kelly did what she did, not Labor, and Labor accepted it was wrong. What we have with this mob is industrial scale rorting, fully sanctioned.