Inside the system

Minister uses government car to chauffeur pets

Victorian Corrections Minister Steve Herbert has been caught out using his government car and chauffeur as luxury transport for his two dogs. He repeatedly used the taxpayer funded perk to move his two dogs—Ted and Patch—between his country house and Melbourne home. Herbert was not in the car during the trips.

After facing scrutiny the minister initially said there was “no issue” with the trips, but later issued an apology saying that his actions didn’t “meet community expectations”. In 2014 Herbert stridently defended the responsible use of public funds, saying, “It is central to the public’s faith that their taxpayer dollars are spent for the good of the public and not for the good of politicians, or their mates and friends.”
Government documents show that the minister has been just as generous with his own travel. Since April 2015 he took $113,100 in overseas trips for himself and a staff member. Herbert hit Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brazil for various “trade missions” and to pursue “partnerships” as part of his International Education portfolio. His travel expenditure dwarfs that of most other Ministers.

Cover-ups and police aggression under investigation

A former police officer has blown the whistle on cover ups and heavy-handed policing in Monaro, on the border of NSW and the ACT. Lucie Litchfield was pressured to lie in court, and relentlessly bullied by other officers when she refused, after witnessing an unprovoked and brutal arrest.

In 2013 officers pulled over a car while searching for a vehicle that had left a home invasion. It turned out to be the wrong car. Police asked the occupants if they were armed and one man held up a toy dinosaur and said, “No, but I’ve got a dinosaur… roaaaar!” The officers then dragged the men from the car, beat them and charged them with assaulting police. After Litchfield gave evidence about the incident she was hounded by fellow officers. She told Fairfax, “There were documents which were printed out and placed on my desk which were basically intimating that I needed security because my life was in danger.” Cover-up culture in the police is systemic. “There is an old-school mentality in relation to a brotherhood—protect your mates rather than actually reveal the truth”, Litchfield says.

In a separate incident in Monaro an officer drew his gun and stuck it in the face of a man pulled over for a random breath test. A Magistrate reportedly expressed shock when footage of the episode was played in court.

Hockey bills taxpayers for childcare

Joe Hockey has been charging taxpayers for childcare while he wines and dines with the top end of town in Washington. The US Ambassador and former treasurer enjoys a $360,000 salary while also pocketing a $90,000 parliamentary pension. Yet he also put his hand out for the public to pay his $2500 childcare bill, according to documents requested under Freedom of Information laws. The documents cover the first five months of Hockey’s time as ambassador.

Hockey notoriously denounced the “age of entitlement” in a speech that accompanied his 2014 horror budget. He also led a crusade against women who supposedly “double dip” by claiming taxpayer and government funded parental leave schemes. The charges were listed as “babysitting” on his “representation funds expenditure” documents. But after an FOI request the listings for childcare were conspicuously changed and are now categorised as “additional staff”.

Last Tiananmen prisoner released

The Chinese Government is believed to have released the last known prisoner locked up for participating in the Tiananmen Square uprising—27 years after his arrest in 1989. Factory worker Miao Deshun was 25 when the demonstrations broke out. He received a death sentence for allegedly throwing a basket at a burning People’s Liberation Army. His sentence was commuted to life two years later.

He was one of 1600 people arrested in the crackdown that followed the June 1989 protests which were met with a horrific government massacre. A cell-mate who was also imprisoned for participating in the protests, Sun Liyong, said Miao, “refused to be reformed, to admit to any wrongdoing so he was put in solitary confinement for ten or 15 days every month. We shared the same food — it was only fit for pigs and dogs.” It is believed that Miao’s sentence was particularly harsh because he was a factory worker and not a student.

Milk destroyed due to ‘oversupply’

Nine farmers in WA’s South have begun destroying massive quantities of milk due to the collapse of supply contracts. WA farmer Graham Manning’s contract with Browne Dairy expired in September. He told the ABC, “Currently about 8000 litres is going down the drain for these three or four days while we organise to sell our cows”. Farmers who formerly held contracts with Brownes and Harvey Fresh have been told by dairy bosses that a “global oversupply” of milk is to blame for the non-renewal of contracts.

This has seen prices fall on the world market. In the US, farmers have dumped more than 160 million litres of milk in the first eight months of this year, the US agriculture department says. Yet there are around 15 million people in the US alone living in poverty and classified as “food insecure”.

Children in poverty growing

New research from the Australian Council of Social Services has revealed that 13.3 per cent of the Australian population—2.9 million people—are living in poverty. And 17.4 per cent of all children live below the poverty line. The shocking figures show a picture of growing deprivation despite 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth.

Child poverty increased in the decade between 2004 and 2014 despite the massive wealth created by the mining boom. The report comes as Treasurer Scott Morrison tries to shore up Senate support for more welfare cuts worth $6 billion. One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has backed the cuts, which include measures to starve dole recipients for four weeks before receiving their payment and cutting $230 a year from the already meagre payments of welfare recipients.

Things they say

I don’t believe there is a group of people that sit up and try to control every little thing that happens and cause every war. But I certainly believe that the UN is trying to create a New World Order as vehicle for control of resources and finances and people around the planet. There no doubt in my mind about that.
One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, who won his Queensland Senate seat with 77 primary votes.

Reasonable enough
Tony Abbott, former PM, on Donald Trump’s policies

A fair balance might be struck by leaving the minority ethnic channels intact while transferring funding from the ABC to establish a new channel that might be called the Patriotic Broadcasting Corporation
NSW One Nation Senator Brian Burston

Completely taken over [and] own and operate the place
Peter Dutton froths at the mouth about activists taking over the ABC after the Four Corners program on Nauru

Labor dispossessed people of their private assets with tree clearing guidelines… I thought, ‘there’s a word for this — it’s called communism’.
Barnaby Joyce blusters about Labor Party laws designed to stop land clearing

We’ve got to make sure that every molecule of gas that can come out of the ground does so.
Ian McFarlane, Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council, and former Abbott government minister, in support of fracking, and reportedly on a salary of $500,000

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