Audiences deserted Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp mastheads in 2019 with its tabloid tub-thumper The Daily Telegraph losing a massive 15.5 per cent of its readership across both print and digital editions, according to research house Roy Morgan.
Simon Longstaff, Executive Director of The Ethics Centre, is very clear. While what Bridget McKenzie did may not be illegal, ethically it was wrong. Politicians are elected to serve the public interest, not indulge in behaviour to promote private interests, or further the interests of a political party.
Quite simply, she should resign, or be sacked.
Part of Longstaff’s argument in his AFR opinion piece is that corrupt politicians tend to corrupt others:
Their dodgy behaviour distorts the judgment of citizens. They deploy power in ways that punish the virtuous and reward only those who play their game. We begin by being compromised and end up being complicit.
He says that McKenzie may be a wonderful person, but she has shown herself to be an irresponsible minister who has done wrong and refuses to acknowledge this.
Fortunately, we have a Prime Minister who stood for office as a principled man. Hopefully, we can rely on him to uphold the conventions of ministerial responsibility – even when it is difficult or inconvenient to do so.
The honourable course of action would be for the minister to resign. However, if she fails to do so, then she should be dismissed by Scott Morrison.
PM Scott Morrison gave his answer to Sabra Lane this morning (from 6:30 on the counter) – there are some legal issues the Attorney General is “clarifying”, we may learn from this, but the rules were followed, no ineligible projects were funded, the minister has made the decisions, and they were “actioned in an endorsing way by Sports Australia”.
In a sense he’s right about that last bit. Sports Australia should have refused to action decisions improperly made, and so they have become complicit.
The bottom line is that it looks as though the government is going to get away with this scam.
Australia’s constitutional rulebook doesn’t allow federal governments to splash money on local sports groups without parliamentary approval.
Twomey says that there are at least three areas in which rules are likely to have been broken. Firstly, there is a legal obligation on ministers when acting within the scope of their powers to behave in a manner that is procedurally fair. They can’t take into account irrelevant considerations and they must not act for an improper purpose or in a biased manner.
Clearly there is a basis for what happened to be challenged legally in this regard.
Secondly, there is a question as to whether the minister had any power at all to make these grants. She says:
The Australian Sports Commission (which includes “Sport Australia”) was established by statute as a corporate entity with its own independent legal powers to enter into contracts and make sporting grants.
While Bridget McKenzie had power under section 11 of the Act to give “written directions to the Commission with respect to the policies and practices to be followed by the Commission in the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers”, this did not allow her to exercise its function and decide who got the grants. In any case, she made no such direction.
If the minister had no power under statute to make the grants, then this was an invalid expenditure of public money, which is an extremely serious matter.
The third reason relates to the constitution itself. The constitution lists the areas where the Commonwealth Parliament may legislate, for example, external affairs, defence and banking. These are known as “heads of power”. There is no head of power for sport.
She says that the school chaplaincy program ran into a similar problem. The High Court found that direct funding by the Commonwealth was invalid.
So the funding must be channelled through the states which tend to have “more stringent accountability measures, such as codes of ethics for MPs and ministers, strong anti-corruption bodies and legal sanctions.”
In NSW what McKenzie did would likely end up with ICAC (the Independent Commission Against Corruption). Furthermore, in NSW it is a criminal offence to give any property or benefit to any person to influence votes.
That is section 209 of the NSW Electoral Act. If breached a Court of Disputed Returns must declare the election void, as actually happened in 1988 in the case of Scott v Martin.
It seems that who won and why is not relevant, it is the act of attempted influence itself that matters.
I’m not sure if that would fly under Commonwealth law, but truly, this matter is quite egregious and there should be some form of restitution. Here’s exhibit A, from the Longstaff article:
It seems that anything a LNP politician did to keep the Bill Shorten out of The Lodge and the ALP out power prior to the 2019 election was ipso facto justified. It’s either that or there is no such thing as integrity left in this government’s modus operandi. Continue reading Bridget’s dreaming and broken democracy→
Whether Israel Folau should have been sacked by Rugby Union Australia will be resolved as a matter of contract law in the courts. However, elements within society are using the case to promote their agenda in terms of free speech and/or religious rights.
Until recently, I thought he should have been smacked on the wrist, given a fine or something and everyone should have gone back to playing football. That’s more or less what happened to Folau’s wife, Maria, who plays netball. Liz Ellis was upset, but everyone seems to have moved on.
Much has been written since the women’s final of the 2018 US Open Tennis Championships saw world number one Serena Williams beaten by a young rising star Naomi Osaka after receiving a code violation warning, then a point penalty and finally a game penalty, which put Osaka in an excellent place to win the second set 6-4 and the match. Elite opinion, especially overseas, has come down heavily in Williams’ favour, blaming the umpire Carlos Ramos for his handling of the incident, which, it is said, was an example of sexism because he would never have treated a male player so harshly, and probably racism to boot.
I’ll tell you my opinion, on the evidence I’ve seen (I didn’t watch the match) and comment on the commentary. My conclusion is that tennis needs to put its house in order, and has missed a golden opportunity to enforce rules so that tennis fans can expect to see excellent tennis being played, rather than players venting. Continue reading Serena meltdown a missed opportunity→
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has said that if the vilification of Adam Goodes does not stop, players may have to take matters “into their own hands” and walk off the field in protest.
I decided I want to be there (here) as the dream continues, or, as it inevitably must, comes to an end. Also, there may even be one or two readers who are interested and care.
We are told that Qld have won the last five at “the cauldron”, that NSW hasn’t won a series opening here since 2003, but make no mistake, many recent games have been close. For example in 2012 it was one game all and Qld looked OK close to home in the decider at 20-14, when NSW put up an attacking bomb. The Qld player looked to have it covered when Josh Morris flew through the air, took it out of the Qld player’s hands and scored in the corner:
The try was converted from the sideline, so suddenly it’s 20 all. Greg Inglis then almost slid over for a try, but hit the goal posts. Then Cooper Cronk sank the Blues’ hopes with a field goal at the death.
So either side can win.
A lot could be said about selection. Qld have gone light and perhaps mobile in the forward pack with only one big bopper (110kg or over). NSW have three.
Last year we had the disgraceful incident where Gallen punched Myles in the face, twice, and only missed one club match:
Gerard Whately said he would have got 7 weeks in the AFL. It took until Sunday on Debbie Spillane’s program before anyone mentioned “One punch can kill!”
There won’t be any of that rubbish tonight.
Finally it is almost certain that we will be talking about the referees after the game. This year more than ever games are being decided on faulty or questionable refereeing decisions.
It should be a good game. In this part of the world there is only one other rivalry that comes close. That’s Australia vs NZ at netball.