Monday, 8 September 2014

Lawmakers or lawbreakers? - The AIM Network

Lawmakers or lawbreakers? - The AIM Network

Lawmakers or lawbreakers?

The Readers Digest list of the 50 most trusted professions in
Australia ranks lawyers at 39 and politicians at 49 just scraping in in
front of door-to-door salespeople and two places behind call centre

Considering these are the people who make, and prosecute, our laws, this is a sad indictment.

The record of the Abbott government ministers with regard to the law
makes one wonder if they may just consider themselves above it all.

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinis is continuing to be mentioned at
ICAC.  Not only was he involved in shady dealings when at Australian
Water Holdings, he is now implicated in emails (that his lawyers tried to have suppressed)
from chief fund-raiser of the NSW Liberal Party Paul Nicolaou to Peta
Credlin.  As Sinodinis was Finance Director (2009 to 2011) and President
(since 2011) for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party, it is hard to
believe he knew nothing of the laundering of donations through the
Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation.

Credlin and Loughnane appear to be in on the act, and Bronwyn Bishop
and Tony Abbott have also been named, the former for redirecting funding
through her Dame Pattie Menzies Foundation Trust and the latter for his
association with Lindsay Partridge the MD of Brickworks who were
advocating for the repeal of the carbon tax.

In May, the SMH published an article stating that

“Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a
select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return
for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a
secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to
election funding authorities.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is probing Liberal
fund-raising bodies such as the Millennium Forum and questioning their
influence on political favours in NSW.

Mr Hockey offers access to one of the country’s highest political offices in return for annual payments.

The donors are members of the North Sydney Forum, a campaign
fundraising body run by Mr Hockey’s North Sydney Federal Electoral
Conference (FEC). In return for annual fees of up to $22,000, members
are rewarded with “VIP” meetings with Mr Hockey, often in private

Members of the forum include National Australia Bank as well as the
influential Financial Services Council, whose chief executive is former
NSW Liberal leader John Brogden.  Both these groups have benefitted from
the changes to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws.

The chairman of the North Sydney Forum is John Hart, who is also the
chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia – a hospitality
industry lobby group whose members stand to benefit from a
government-ordered Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act
that is expected to examine the issue of penalty rates.

Mr Hart also sits on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council.

When asked if there should be a federal ICAC, Mr Abbott said that he thought that Canberra had a “pretty clean polity”.

Despite accepting huge donations from bodies with obvious vested
interests and loudly articulated demands – mining companies, property
developers, financial institutions, hotel and gambling bodies,
hospitality industry – Tony Abbott said

“The thing is that we’re going to keep the lobbyists out
[of politics]. And the problem that ICAC is exposing is a problem of
lobbying, essentially its influence peddling . . . and we’re going to
make sure that that has no place whatsoever federally.”

Last night’s edition of 60 minutes showed Mal Brough, by his own
admission, directed the stealing of a copy of Peter Slipper’s diary. 
James Ashby also stated he was offered employment and legal costs by Christopher Pyne
who has always denied any knowledge or involvement.  And now, boy
wonder Wyatt Roy is dragged into the fray.  Somebody is/has been

It would be very interesting to know who filed the complaint with the
Australian Federal Police after Mal Brough went through Slipper’s diary
and when the complaint was filed.  There has been some suggestion that
is was ex-defender of bigots, Attorney-General George Brandis.

When faced with action in the International Court over Alexander
Downer’s bugging of the East Timor Parliamentary offices to gain
confidential trade information for a subsequent employer, Brandis reacted by raiding the offices of the lawyer for East Timor, confiscating the evidence and the passport of the key witness.

If laws get in the way, bypass them or abolish them.

In June, the court upheld a challenge to the National School Chaplaincy Program,
saying providing funding directly to chaplaincy organisations was
constitutionally invalid.  To get around that, the federal government
will give a quarter of a billion to the states, insisting they must
employ only religious chaplains.

Despite 72 per cent of Australians wanting same-sex marriage
legalised, one of Brandis’ first acts was to challenge, and overturn,
the ACT’s recently passed same-sex marriage laws.  Why?  Because he
could is all I can come up with.

I am sure Corey Bernardi and Kevin Andrews were demanding this ‘depravity’ be abolished.

A poll in 2009 showed that 85 per cent of the country is in favour of voluntary euthanasia but that will never happen while Kevin Andrews has a driving seat in the Star Chamber.

In 1997, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz were members of the Coalition’s
fundamentalist Christian faction, the Lyons Forum, who were successful
in overturning the Northern Territory’s historic voluntary euthanasia law.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the recently decorated
compassionate Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop also has an
affinity with the law.  Before we were paying for her Armani suits she
was busy representing CSR
(amongst other “dodgy” corporate clients) famously asking the court
“why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they
were dying.”

Our Environment Minister Greg Hunt has overseen the roll back of environmental protection laws to facilitate his approval of coal mining.

The Federal Government’s handover of environmental
approval powers to the states for development projects will wind back 30
years of legal protection for the environment and put at risk
Australia’s World Heritage areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu
and the Tasmanian forests.

At the same time, state governments are seeking to ‘fast track’ major
developments, such as coal mine and coal seam gas projects, reducing
public participation and removing legal rights of local communities to
mount legal challenges.

This is a crime that will certainly saddle our children with perhaps insurmountable problems.

And in perhaps the most heinous example of disregard for the law,
morality, justice and humanity, the International Criminal Court (ICC)
in The Hague is currently considering a submission calling for an
investigation into Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers
The submission was officially accepted by the ICC on May 19, 2014, and
it names Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott.  Similar complaints have been
lodged with the United Nations.  Let’s hope they can compel our
government to accept their legal obligations even if they are bereft of


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