Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Economy

Just how removed is the Integrity Commission from government influence … ?

First published December 7

Concerned about the numerous stories on TT surrounding mismanagement, maladministration, misconduct and many other negative accounts of poor government and poor conduct by public servants in Tasmania, I went browsing over the internet …

I discovered a newly-published Federal Senate Select Committee report that looked into a “National Integrity Commission” (September 2017).

In it, the committee examines arguments for and against the need for a National Integrity Commission, and in doing so also looks at existing integrity bodies in the states and territories of Australia:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/National_Integrity_Commission/IntegrityCommissionSen/Report

Below are the most informative extracts from the Tasmanian section in regard to the appointment process to its Integrity Commission. I have taken the liberty of highlighting important points in bold which I think are very telling.

Of note is the comment about Tasmania’s commission in relation to all others in Australia. Also of particular note, is the process of appointments i.e. who appoints the people to serve on the commission; and who else can have a say or even power of veto about the make-up of the commission.

“Commissioner—appointment and tenure

“3.124 The governance structure of the Tasmanian Integrity Commission differs from that of other state integrity commissions in that the Integrity Commission Act 2009 (Tas) (IC Act (Tas)) establishes a board, a chief commissioner and a chief executive officer.”

“3.125 The chief commissioner is the chairperson of the board. Board members are appointed by the governor on the advice of the minister, after consultation with the Joint Standing Committee on Integrity.

The IC Act (Tas) does not appear to require that the committee approve of board appointments, merely that it be consulted.”

“3.126 The chief commissioner is also appointed by the governor on the advice of the minister after consultation with the Joint Standing Committee on Integrity. Again, there appears to be no requirement that the committee agree to the appointment.”

This looks to me that the Tasmanian government via its minister has the sole power to appoint who they want on the Integrity Commission – the so-called watchdog for public service and public authority conduct.

In my opinion, the power of appointments is not at arm’s length from government, and it seems to embed the potential for conflicts of interest, doesn’t it? Or am I just being paranoid?

Mercury: Tasmanian Integrity Commission warns on public servant exits TASMANIA’S Integrity Commission has recommended changes to allow disciplinary findings against public servants who have quit their post. A commission report has found changes should be made to the State Services Act to prevent investigations ceasing once an employee subject to allegations of misconduct leaves. The recommendation is one of three made by the Commission following an investigation into the management of misconduct in the state’s public service. The report also recommends a written record of proceedings and action taken be kept for seven years …

ABC: Integrity watchdog calls for significant changes to handling of misconduct by Tasmania’s public service

Examiner: Tasmanian Integrity Commission delivers report on state service misconduct

The Integrity Commission: Investigation report recommends legislative changes for misconduct accountability

*Lyndall Rowley is simply a concerned citizen, environmentalist and voter who thinks a healthy democracy needs to be actively guarded and maintained by its citizens. Ex-PM Fraser’s wife Tammy reputedly once called us “the dumb electorate”. I wouldn’t characterise us that way. But she’s kind of right in that many voters aren’t interested in politics and only reluctantly vote, or are swinging voters that can be swayed at the last minute by one issue (or the leader’s personality) at the time. But politics affects all of our lives, whether we like it or realise it or not. And when it comes to integrity and ethical conduct of our governments and the public sector, I want to be confident that we have systems in place that are above politics and clearly separate to the partisan politics of the day.

• David Obendorf in Comments: … In the case of Pandora’s box, unbridled curiosity when acted upon opened up and released consequences. As the myth tells it, when the box was open: Pandora could still hear a voice calling to her from the box, pleading with her to be let out. Her husband Epimetheus agreed that nothing inside the box could be worse than the horrors that had already been released, so they opened the lid once more. All that remained in the box was Hope. For me, the lesson from Pandora’s box is – be careful what I release because sometimes all that remains is Hope …

• Bob in Comments: Hodgman’s Chief of Staff Stansfield comes from the Abetz office. It shows and says it all really! ‘I didn’t say that’ and ‘not available for comment’ appears to be the Liberal Party mantra these days. Roll on March!

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. john hayward

    December 6, 2017 at 10:43 am

    I have watched a Tasmanian government guardianship board lodge an objection to an enduring power of attorney, and then elect to hear the challenge itself.

    I have repeatedly observed Forest Practices Tribunals consisting mainly of retired forestry employees.

    I have seen a challenge to an SC judge’s ruling against a stay application where the grounds of the application were not mentioned, heard and rejected by the same judge being challenged.

    What I have yet to see is any evidence that Tassie officialdom understands and respects the Judicial Review Act 1991, or the principles of natural justice.

    John Hayward

  2. Ian Rist

    December 6, 2017 at 10:52 am

    A very well written and researched article Lyndall.
    The obvious question….Does this mean some of the ‘fox fakers’ and ‘fecal foolers’ will be brought to justice?

    This fox swindle on the Tasmanian people and all taxpayers has been going on for the best part of 17 years, senior politicians and bureaucrats are complicit and duplicit and have been protected and even encouraged by their ‘mates’ in the ‘company’.

    According to many of my overseas and interstate friends we are a laughing stock.

    The IC needs to look at starting at the top, X Premiers, X Treasurers,senior public servants ,both current and past. X FFTF and FEP Managers and senior staff of both DPIPWE and NPWS.

    Trying to cover this all up by excusing a few lowly fox scat ‘planters’ is a sick joke.
    Let us look at all those including Ministers that signed off on this dreadful example of corruption.

  3. David Obendorf

    December 6, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Thank you Lyndall. There is only one “Integrity Commission” (so named) across Australia and it was set up in 2009 in Tasmania in the wake of string of political scandals associated with the malfeasance occurring around the Bell Bay pulp mill and bureaucratic interference. The incumbent Government was led by Labor Premier David Bartlett after Paul Lennon resigned from Parliament in the wake of very poor polling over his close relationships with Gunns Ltd and its Managing Director, John Gay.

    The establishment if Tasmania’s Integrity Commission was a political band-aid on an infected wound that should have received far better treatment than slapping a piece of sticking plaster over it.

    Lyndall, I urge you to look at the genesis of this organisation – the Government discussion paper that set it off in 2008 _ “Strengthening Trust in Government … Everyone’s right to know” and maybe also review the chequered history of the organisation since its inauguration in 2010. Regrettably the Tasmanian Governor of the day, in launching the Integrity Commission, made the brash statement that there was no systemic corruption in Tasmania (full stop). And on that vice- regal imprimatur Tasmania launched this secretive organisation and Tasmanians have since read about the turnover of the Commission’s staff and the internal bureaucratic wars that waged behind closed doors to improve the level of accountability and transparency in the conduct of Tasmania’s public sector. The Tasmanian Integrity Commission model emphasises that reform of the Public Sector needs to occur through educative rather than investigative or punitive processes.

    This is tight little island!

  4. Jack

    December 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    An important matter that deserves some very serious consideration by the wider community is that Tasmania seems to have a tradition of putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

    The solution to the problem of this not working is to double the number of foxes employed.

    Despite the Integrity Commission itself recognising that there is presently a very concerning culture existing in the State Services where employees are escaping any consequence of misconduct (effectively fraud and maladministration) the Tasmanian IC seems hamstrung by its lack of independence and pathetic terms of reference. It has no real powers, is not an independent body and has only an advisory role. It’s role is to ‘educate’ and ‘advise’ and hope like hell that the fox has good intentions.

    It advises and educates the fox not to eat chickens.

    Here’s the main issue. Activities that almost everyone outside the State Services would agree are ‘criminal’ are not criminal under the State Services Act. So as state employee you can rort and defraud the public purse, fabricate information and run a ‘game of mates’ and if you are caught you simply resign. No one can touch you after that. There are no consequences.

    To its credit (kind of) the Tasmanian IC has recommended changing the State Services Act to be more like that in Queensland (that Australian state famous for high integrity in government). Unfortunately these changes just give more power to the fox in charge. They don’t do anything to make serious misconduct criminal.

    This enshrines a culture of double standards where a bogan on meth who steals a TV gets jail, but a silver fox who flogs off the state silverware to his mates gets a nice superannuation payout and a stuffed rabbit.

    It’s a joke. It’s such a joke that I’m surprised that more independents and prospective candidates for the state parliament don’t stand on this issue alone.

    If others around Australia want to know what it’s like being a Tasmanian, then imagine you are passenger on the Titanic boarding a lifeboat and a crew member hands you a flyer to read about the unsinkability of the ship and a voucher for happy hour at the bar. Later imagine that the chair of the ‘disaster investigation board’ was appointed by the captain who steered into the iceberg in the first place, because that’s not unlike the situation that exists in Tasmania today.

    All this is holding the state back like a ball and chain. No political party has the balls to address it and it’s bleeding obvious why they don’t.

    People are just starting to wake up and join the dots. Might I suggest that you all wake up a little bit faster and begin the hunt for the real foxes that require eradication in Tasmania?

    Lock and load for the fox hunting election.

  5. David Obendorf

    December 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    [b]The Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water & Environment[/b] about 12 months ago received a formal referral of allegations of serious misconduct by an employee of that Department who worked in the [b]Fox Eradication Program[/b]. That person had been identified as a person who had the opportunity to use imported fox scats held by his employer to falsify the physical evidence which went to Dr Stephen Sarre’s laboratory in Canberra for genetic testing. Using the test results from scat submissions made by this DPIPWE employee, Dr Sarre and his colleagues wrote a scientific paper in 2012 claiming that “foxes are now widespread in Tasmania”.

    When these serious allegations were formally put to the FEP employee he resigned and his resignation was gazetted forthwith. This is all detailed in the Tasmanian Parliament [i]Hansard[/i] this year.

    Mr [b]Richard Binghman[/b], yesterday released an Integrity Commission report which looked into the handling of public servant misconduct allegations.

    This IC report noted in some cases that even if preliminary inquiries were undertaken, there were problems with how the matters were handled by the responsible Government Departments. Mr Bingham’s report was critical of the handling of misconduct cases referred back to respondent Departments.

    The report notes: [i]”This included failing to immediately recognise the potential seriousness of matters and to deal with them accordingly. At times, this involved going straight to the respondent with a potentially criminal allegation.”

    “One matter that contained allegations of nepotism was referred straight to the respondent with the comment that ‘I trust that relevant processes have been used for these appointments and your explanation will suffice’.”[/i]

    Resignation from the public service should not be used as a remedy for impending disciplinary action against the public servant, nor should it be used as a cover to any recognition of wrongdoing by both the employee (and their employer) nor to the potential of the matter being referred back to Tasmania Police for review on breaches of the Criminal Code. Thank you.

  6. Simon Warriner

    December 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    To fix this we will have to elect an arse kicking team and give them some steel-capped boots.Their first task will need to be a rewrite of the relevant acts to remove “should” and “might” with “shall”, “must” and “will” and institute some rather punitive outcomes for those who fail to get the hint. A touch of retrospectivity just to make the point and clean out the rats in the ranks of the public service would definitely give my fellow skeptics some reason to think about trusting the public service again. Both Liberal and Labor have proved completely incompetent in this department so it falls to the Independents and the Greens – if anyone is prepared to trust them. I guess we need to elect a few good Independents.

    We let a little fire get big, and now we have to fight it properly.

  7. Russell

    December 6, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    It’s just a total waste of time and money as every head of it says so as they leave.

  8. Lyndall Rowley

    December 6, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Jack, #4 … Thanks for your views and advice.

    I note that you address the Tasmanian Integrity Commission’s Recommendation #1 in relation to criminal misconduct and proposed legislative changes to the State Services Act 2000 (Tas), namely “… in a manner similar to that set out in Public Service Act 2008 (Qld) ss 187A, 188A and 188AB.”

    I’ve been a bit lazy and haven’t checked out the specific sections named above, but instead I’ve been busy looking at material related to the UN Convention against Corruption to which Australia is a signatory.

    I luckily found an interesting little analysis of the above-mentioned Queensland legislation by a prominent barrister, Geoffrey Watson SC.

    Geoffrey Watson SC made a keynote address to the Accountability and the Law 2017 conference titled ‘The Darkest Corners: The case for a federal integrity commission’. In supporting his arguments for a national integrity commission he briefly described some of the inadequacies and flaws in three state integrity commissions. In all three states – Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales – the relevant legislation or anti-corruption body was affected directly by political actions and subject to changes.

    Needless to say, Queensland did not get a clean bill of integrity health, as follows in full:

    “The word “independence” is bandied about in discussion like this, but it really begs two questions: from whom does the agency need to be independent? And how is that independence to be secured?

    Obviously the agency needs to be completely independent of those persons and bodies who might come under investigation –but, given that such an agency would only ever be a creature of statute, and could only be funded by the grace of Parliament, it is difficult to see how independence can ever be completely secured. It is an area where we will always be obliged to trust our politicians.

    Regrettably, this has not proved entirely satisfactory. The experience around the States has demonstrated an uneven political will in this respect. I will provide a few examples.

    In Queensland a powerful anti-corruption agency, the Criminal Justice Commission, was created in 1989 in the wake of the Fitzgerald Royal Commission. When Campbell Newman came to power in 2013 he set about retrospectively removing the corruption prevention and official misconduct functions of the Commission. These meant that before the Commission could undertake any real anti-corruption activities, it required ministerial approval. More recently the Palaszczuk government has reintroduced some, but not quite all, of the Commission’s original powers.”

    Geoffrey Watson’s focus was on the need for a federal anti-corruption commission, but the same principles apply to any integrity commission.

    Below are two points from his Summary which I think should be applied universally:

    • Public sector corruption is an extraordinary crime and it is almost impossible to detect or expose it using ordinary investigative powers. A federal integrity commission needs the powers of a Royal Commission.

    • A federal integrity commission needs the power to hold public hearings in order to be effective. Direct experience has shown me that critical information arises through members of the public coming forward at public hearings. Public hearings also build public trust in the investigations.

    I don’t know Geoffrey Watson SC, but I like him and trust his judgment from his writings and experiences. The infamous Eddie Obeid, convicted criminal and former NSW Labor minister, and three of his five sons, unsuccessfully tried to sue Geoffrey who was counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption in NSW. (Badge of honour imo).

    So, as you say Jack, it appears that the Queensland legislation (sections) referred to as a model for Tasmania’s recommended legislative changes is neither the perfect nor complete solution.

    Given all of the work that Geoffrey, the UN and even our own Federal Senate Select Committee has done on this subject, I suggest that the Tasmanian Government should do some more homework first.

    And if the government is genuine in its Integrity Commission being truly independent, then relevant legislative changes must include a complete separation from government in any appointments or decision powers to the commission.

    http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/Watson – The darkest corners.pdf

    https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/National_Integrity_Commission/IntegrityCommissionSen/Report

  9. Lyndall Rowley

    December 6, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    John (#1), Ian (#2), David (#3&5), Simon (#6) & Russell (#7):

    The recurring themes are impossible to miss. For many years Tasmania has been suffering from poor governance and poor public administration, leaving it open to inept, untrustworthy and even corrupt-like behaviours from various public officials and resulting in numerous controversies involving the exploitation Tasmania’s natural assets or dodgy activities such as the Fox Eradication Programme, just to name a couple.

    It seems obvious that successive Tasmanian State Governments have presided over continuing mismanagement and maladministration within the various public departments and other public authorities; and some government politicians have not conducted themselves with the integrity expected in such high office.

    So I also think it’s time for a complete clean-out and change in government. This time, however, the usual Lib-Lab governments taking turns must not happen. They have both had numerous turns to prove their worth, and both have failed appallingly. Only true change can occur if there are a critical number of Independents and/or other minor parties present in order to break the long-held duopoly stranglehold that has been hamstringing and degrading Tasmania for so long.

    My to-do wish-list? Once this new government is in place the first priority should be the legislative changes needed to bring integrity back to government and its public sector. Included should be a revised legislation for the Integrity Commission, making it completely independent from government and bringing a new high-standard, open integrity commission with powers akin to a Royal Commission. Public trust in government (and democracy) must be restored, and the public needs to see that it is worthy of that trust. Openness, transparency, accountability, and so on – all need to be embedded in the relevant pieces of legislation.

    Once the improved legislation is in place, then all public sector management structures and management personnel need to be subject to the clean sweep of an integrity test (audit) and the new legislative changes applied accordingly.

    A Tasmanian Royal Commission should be called to look into the various controversial matters all connected to the Tasmanian Government and/or its senior public sector management and extending to relationships with the private sector to see if any corruption, misconduct, fraud or other illegal conduct has occurred.

    That’s my wish-list to start with as the foundation. After that, then there’s already a list building requiring further legislative changes and reviews of various management incl. forests etc…

  10. Jack Jolly

    December 6, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    #8 Thanks Lyndall. That’s a great piece of research.

    The issue about ‘independent’ from whom is pertinent, as is a definition of what we mean by ‘corruption’ in the state services and how we calculate its cost.

    I think there are basic measures that could make legislation effective based upon two simple, but new, principles.

    1. An agency should never investigate itself. Even if this is done at the highest level, department secretaries are neither skilled in investigation not fully divorced from responsibility for the actual misconduct. Misconduct reflects badly upon the culture of an organisation that the department head is responsible for. In part, misconduct is a measure of your own failure as a leader. That too always deserves to be investigated. The adequacy of the culture and leadership of an organisation should always be investigated when the investigator should always ask ‘how did this happen?’

    2. Corruption in the state services is the misuse of public trust. Often this is the misuse of legislative power and publicly owned assets. In the same way that a teacher who molests a child or a policeman who takes a bribe has abused the public trust, a public servant should be guilty of an offence that is criminal abuse of power and trust of a similar magnitude. Extreme? Let me explain. This is because the damage from the abuse of public trust and power can be extensive and far reaching. Apart from the direct damage and cost it degrades the magnitude of the trust the public have in the state itself. That in turn has a knock on effect where compliance and respect for authority is reduced. The true cost has never been calculated but it can be measured in tangible terms where the public also eventually refuse to abide by regulations administered by departments that they see as ‘corrupt’. For instance, if a public servant avoids conforming to their own standards of conduct and rorts the system, why would you bother to buy games stamps, stay off beaches in your 4WD, abide by land clearing orders, not collect fire wood from reserves and a thousand other administrative matters? This is what has happened in Italy as the government authority was lost to the mafia.

    Isn’t the point of the law and punishment to deter others? So, what message does the current Tasmanian warm lettuce laws and lack of any punishment send? And what is the cost when others join the consequence free party that this produces?

    In my view it is short sighted not to view the wider cost of misconduct. We have been allowed to think it is a petty matter, a lesser issue, not deserving of being called ‘criminal’ when defrauding the public and abusing trust is one of the lowest acts imaginable that leads to snowballing and ultimately massive corruption. It is the acid that eats away at our social contract.

    Our politicians have looked the other way for far too long. Why?

    In our latest scandal I read from the ABC journalist Richard Baines that:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-07/peter-mooney-email-scandal-who-knew-what/9238304

    “We know that Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries was determined to cover up the matter.”

    Now if that doesn’t tell us everything we need to know about why the fox should never be in charge of the chook house, what will?

    What other matters has DPIPWE been ‘determined to cover up’? When will those responsible for cover ups be held to account?

  11. john hayward

    December 6, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    Only in Tas could Tax Inc apparatchiks get away with the defence that their crime was in the past. It is, however, a fair demonstration of how deep and thorough the rot is.

    John Hayward

  12. Ian Rist

    December 7, 2017 at 10:42 am

    # 10 Jack Jolly.
    “What other matters has DPIPWE been ‘determined to cover up’? When will those responsible for cover ups be held to account”?

    Does the word FOX ring any bells ?

    The ongoing scandal of the Secretary of the DPIPWE John Whittington, and the Minister Jeremy Rockliff’s absolute refusal to answer letters from Erika Newton at the British Ecological Society, Tasmanian Senators and MP’s and even the leader of the State Opposition Rebecca White.

    Budget Estimates 2017 Secretary John Whittington promised at the
    Legislative Council Estimates B – Monday 5 June 2017 – Rockliff

    Mr DEAN – DIPIPWE is currently investigating foxes. What stage is that at, when is the report likely to be released and will it be released publicly?

    Mr Whittington – I need to answer with more than a date. They considered the Tasmanian Police review material that you provided them, they made their findings and passed on their findings both to the department and to the Integrity Commission. I do not know what the integrity commission is doing. We are cooperating with everything that we have. The police review indicated some potential inappropriate behaviour by public servants. That is what we are investigating under the State Service Act. That process will be quickly completed. I cannot give an exact date. I will say that should either the Integrity Commission report or the work that is done through this process find any integrity issues we will be very public about that and we will make that very clear on all of our documentation.

    Quickly completed?
    “we will be very public about that and we will make that very clear on all of our documentation”.

    When Secretary Whittington ? It is now December 2017.
    Is there any followup from Budget Estimates or will it also be relegated to the enormous pile of questions asked by Mr Deal MLC over the years on the fox scandal?

    This Government will be sent to the scrap heap come March election and they wonder why when they bring it all on themselves.

  13. David Obendorf

    December 7, 2017 at 11:26 am

    [b]ABC–TV News – 7 December 2017[/b]

    The scandal involving the Maria Island ferry tender appears to have caught out the Tasmanian Government’s most senior political advisor. Today Will Hodgman repeatedly refused to say if his chief of staff knew about it, but deliberately kept his boss in the dark.

    Here’s State political reporter Richard Baines …

    Richard Baines: It’s clear that the Department of Primary Industries was determined to cover up the Peter Mooney scandal. It was a closely guarded secret that the former head of Parks & Wildlife resigned after coaching a private company vying for the Maria Island ferry contact. The Premier and Deputy Premier says they were unaware of the 2016 matter until earlier this week.

    Today, Will Hodgman was asked if his Chief of staff Brad Stansfield knew at the time.

    Will Hodgman: ‘I made the point, we’ve dealt with how the process was handled, how the issue was resolved, and I’m very confident it was handled appropriately.’

    Richard Baines: Labor and the Greens say the Premier’s refusal to answer the question show that Mr Stansfield knew but didn’t tell his boss. They say it raises serious questions about who is actually in charge of the Tasmanian Government. The Minister [Matthew Groom] at the time knew. Matthew Groom won’t say if he also kept his Cabinet colleagues in the dark. The pressure even seems to be getting to the deputy Premier [Jeremy Rockliff] given his answers yesterday and today.

    Jeremy Rockliff: ‘I’m not aware of how much Matthew understood.’

    Richard Baines: ‘What did you mean yesterday when you said you weren’t sure how much Matthew [Groom] understood on this matter?’

    Jeremy Rockliff: ‘I didn’t ahh … say that.’

    Richard Baines: The lock-down on information extends to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment. For three days running the Department has refused to answer detailed questions about the matter. Sometimes saying nothing, says everything. [ENDS]

    [Footnote: On 23 September 2017 the Minister for the PWS Matthew Groom resigned from the Ministry; Peter Mooney resigned as Director of PWS in June 2016.]

  14. Lyndall Rowley

    December 7, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Jack Jolly (#10) … I wholeheartedly agree with all you say, and in particular I’m so glad you’ve mentioned the toxic effect that unaddressed maladministration and misconduct can have on civil society.

    This is not just about a handful of rogues in government or the upper echelons of public sector management getting away without any consequences; this is about the example of high standards of ethical conduct by our leaders setting the standard and creating a law-abiding culture for the rest of us. Trust in our leaders is also important; otherwise we turn away, led by bad example, and the rot sets in harming our society and undermining a fully functioning democracy.

    The impacts of unaddressed maladministration and misconduct in the public sector also flow into other areas of public services and society. Perhaps voters haven’t really thought about this before, but the United Nations in its work on the Convention against Corruption certainly has. Below is a neat little explanation as to why each and every one of us should take an interest in Tas Inc. and the very worrying pattern of corrupt-like activities within a sloppy system. Even though the UN extract below may be referring to an extreme and far more corrupt ‘third world’ scenario, the principles, I think, still apply and should be heeded by all governments. Prevention and early detection is far better than cure.

    “Aims of the Convention against Corruption

    By illegally diverting State funds, corruption undercuts services, such as health, education, public transportation or local policing, that those with few resources are dependent upon. Petty corruption provides additional costs for citizens: not only is service provision inadequate, but “payment” is required for the delivery of even the most basic government activity, such as the issuing of official documentation.

    In many States, applicants for driver’s licences, building permits and other routine documents have learned to expect a “surcharge” from civil servants. At a higher level, larger sums are paid for public contracts, marketing rights or to sidestep inspections and red tape. However, the consequences of corruption are more pervasive and profound than these bribes suggest. Corruption causes reduced investment or even disinvestment, with many long-term effects, including social polarization, lack of respect for human rights, undemocratic practices and diversion of funds intended for development and essential services.

    The diversion of scarce resources by corrupt parties affects a Government’s ability to provide basic services to its citizens and to encourage sustainable economic, social and political development. Moreover, it can jeopardize the health and safety of citizens through, for example, poorly designed infrastructure projects and scarce or outdated medical supplies.

    Most fundamentally, corruption undermines the prospects for economic investment. Few foreign firms wish to invest in societies where there is an additional level of “taxation”. National and international companies, by offering bribes to secure business, undercut legitimate economic competition, distort economic growth and reinforce inequalities. In many societies, widespread public suspicion that judicial systems are corrupt and that criminal acts are committed by elites in both the private and public spheres undercuts government legitimacy and undermines the rule of law.

    Along with the growing reluctance of international investors and donors to allocate funds to States lacking adequate rule of law, transparency and accountability in government administration, corruption has the greatest impact on the most vulnerable part of a country’s population, the poor.”

    https://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNCAC/Publications/LegislativeGuide/UNCAC_Legislative_Guide_E.pdf

    The signs are there, in my opinion. The breaking news about Peter Mooney and the Maria Island Ferry Tender and who knew what and when by Tasmanian State Government ministers is a window, perhaps, into Tas Inc. And TT has plenty of other stories and comments along similar lines of misconduct. It is in both the public’s and government’s interest to ensure that all is revealed, dealt with accordingly under the law, and our systems rectified as per the UN Convention against Corruption.

  15. Lyndall Rowley

    December 7, 2017 at 11:53 am

    PS: I note that in another article in TT – ‘Jacqui Lambie looming large over 2018 Tasmanian election, as Liberals, Labor neck and neck’ – Dr Kevin Bonham crunches the numbers thus:

    “EMRS (Tas State) December: Lib 34 ALP 34 Green 17 JLN 8 IND/Other 7
    Appears to be lowest Liberal primary for 11 years
    Interpretation (based on historic skew) Lib 35.5 ALP 37.5 Green 14 JLN 8 Others 5

    Modelled seat results based on this poll if election “held now”: hung parliament with 10-10-4-1 (Liberal, Labor, Green, JLN) with next most likely outcome 9-11-4-1
    Rolling aggregate of all state polls 12-10-3-0
    Rebecca White increases Preferred Premier lead over Will Hodgman to 13 points

    If the December EMRS poll is to be believed (see also the helpful trend tracker), the Hodgman Government is currently headed for a Campbell Newman-like reversal of fortune at the 2018 Tasmanian state election. Having won a massive victory from Opposition at the 2014 state election, the current poll suggests Hodgman’s government, much like Newman’s, could be going straight back where it came from and that election night could be carnage with incumbents losing all over the place – to Labor, the Greens, the Lambie Network and their own party. On a like for like basis (which is rather difficult to follow through old EMRS poll reports) this seems to be the Liberals’ lowest primary in an EMRS poll since August 2006.
    It’s only one poll, so we shouldn’t get carried away…”. http://kevinbonham.blogspot.com.au/

    The stars are aligning. There is a golden opportunity to gain a balance of power. It is now time to act quickly and get organised.

    Bring on a genuine change in government, I say, and flood next year’s election with Independents and/or small parties that stand for integrity in government and its public sector; sustainable use of Tasmania’s precious natural assets; and a fairer, more valued, society

  16. David Obendorf

    December 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    There is a Greek myth about [b]Pandora[/b] and Zeus’ gift to her of a beautiful box that she was told must never be opened. It parallels a better-known biblical one of the Garden of Eden and the eating of the forbidden fruit. Both are universal stories about a willingness to take a risk and see if you can get away with it.

    In the case of Pandora’s box, unbridled curiosity when acted upon opened up and released consequences.

    As the myth tells, when the box was open: [i] Pandora could still hear a voice calling to her from the box, pleading with her to be let out. Her husband Epimetheus agreed that nothing inside the box could be worse than the horrors that had already been released, so they opened the lid once more. All that remained in the box was Hope.[/i]

    For me, the lesson from Pandora’s box is – be careful what I release because sometimes all that remains is [i][b]Hope[/b][/i].

    [b]Jack Jolly[/b] at comment #10 explains how serious it can become: [i]‘We have been allowed to think it [public sector misconduct] is a petty matter, a lesser issue, not deserving of being called ‘criminal’ when defrauding the public and abusing trust is one of the lowest acts imaginable that leads to snowballing and ultimately massive corruption. It is the acid that eats away at our social contract.’[/i]

    [i]’ The damage from the abuse of public trust and power can be extensive and far reaching. Apart from the direct damage and cost it degrades the magnitude of the trust the public has in the state itself. That in turn has a knock-on effect where compliance and respect for authority is reduced.’[/i]

    When no-one will take responsibility for serious misconduct in a community then [i]trust[/i] in that community collapses and the universal [i]hope[/i] is that [i]trust[/i] will be regained. Tasmania needs this … thank you.

  17. Jack

    December 7, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    #14 Lyndall

    It is truly a sad day when the ‘Aims of the Convention against Corruption’ become relevant to Tasmania. But they clearly are. They spell out the hidden costs of tolerating public sector maladministration, cronyism and nepotism.

    When standard are so permissive that they allow a series of behaviours to be tolerated the envelope is pushed and soon it appears just normal to subvert tender processes and ‘cover up’. That’s a sign that more serious corruption is probably endemic.

    Just who do these managers think they work for – themselves? What right to they have to ‘cover up’ misconduct and hide it from the parliament? What on earth do we have a parliament and ministers for if these things are covered up? It makes them less than worthless.

    The other behaviour that no one talks about is that when the politicians are too close to the state services they will not act to put failed managers to the knife. They end up in a mutual ‘arse covering’ relationship. What other reason could there be for a chief of staff to keep matters of corruption secret?

    A sign of that is managers who have been in the same organisation for decades. The Sir Humphrey types.

    There is a big difference between ‘don’t tell me’ and ‘don’t officially tell me’. One is word of mouth, the other goes on the record. This is the ‘core promises and non-core promises’ rhetoric of institutional communication. I don’t buy it.

  18. john hayward

    December 7, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    The moral of Pandora’s story in #16 … namely, don’t get inquisitive about what your superiors are up to – is one that Tasmanians have largely taken to heart, except that in the Tas version the gods have been replaced by crooks, and hope is still in the locked cupboard along with all the inconvenient reports they refuse to release.

    John Hayward

  19. Peter Bright

    December 7, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    One thing it seems everyone has overlooked is that today’s innumerable challenges are too great for mere mortals to bear.

    We see disintegration wherever we look.

  20. bob

    December 7, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Hodgman’s Chief of Staff Stansfield comes from the Abetz office. It shows and says it all really!
    ‘I didn’t say that’ and ‘not available for comment’ appears to be the LP mantra these days. Roll on March!

  21. Simon Warriner

    December 7, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Interesting discussion. We live in a world dominated by entropy. Everything devolves from order to chaos without the constant input of energy.

    When you select your political class predominately from a group prepared to conflict interests to gain selection you are narrowing your political gene pool with every iteration. Eventually what is left is what we have. Incompetence compounded, when even the seemingly intelligent types are skewered by their peers.

    Rebecca White may have the gloss of novelty about her, but her pedigree is typical of the modern political machine, bugger all experience outside of the machine itself. Expect another round of the faceless manipulators taking charge.

    I note the libs are chasing Gavin Pearce for federal selection up here in the NW. He seems like a straightforward, competent individual, and business wise he is certainly that, but I do wonder how he will settle into the traces when someone tries to leave him stranded on King Island when he should be at an inquiry hearing in Hobart to assist a constituent ventilate serious matters of corruption.

    For too long we have neglected and avoided spending the energy needed to arrest that inevitable entropy. What will ultimately happen if we continue down that road is an energetic tyrant will assume control and direct the entropy to their advantage.

    Truly, we do get the government we deserve.

    One facet of this that has been missed in the conversation so far is the loss of focus by the senior public service on serving the public and the public good. The focus is on preparing for the next rung on the ladder, not on delivering for the community. In that light Peter Mooney’s latest rort is entirely to be expected.

    Integrity watchdogs serve to return that focus to where it rightfully belongs. they can only do that if their bark comes with a lot of bite.

  22. O'Brien

    December 8, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Business as usual? Maria Island Public property transferred to private hands…

    http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/RTI 048.pdf

  23. Lyndall Rowley

    December 8, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Thanks O’Brien, #22 … but I tried the link, and all I get is this: “Page not found ..
    The page you’re looking for doesn’t exist.

    It might have been removed or is temporarily unavailable.”

    Am I getting paranoid – has this now been removed by DPIPWE since you posted here at 4.09 am this morning?

  24. Lyndall Rowley

    December 8, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Oh Simon #21 … I love it. It’s so catchy!

    VOTE 1: Simon Warriner for Independent

    STOP THE ENTROPY!

    Seriously – you should stand. If I lived in Tassie, I’d vote for you.

  25. john hayward

    December 8, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Lyndall, #23. You are not paranoid; extreme suspicion is the only rational response to Tas Govt announcements.

    A pointer to the truth in O’Brien’s report may be found in the Land Swap saga, where 77,809 ha of State Forest disappeared and reappeared in the private land portfolio of STT (nee FT), seemingly gratis, before being leased by FT to a NSW outfit for a song.

    John Hayward

  26. TGC

    December 8, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Should a government – likely to be Labor under BecWhite – have the guts to establish a fully independent Commission to Investigate Corruption – or allegations of corruption – it is essential no member of that Commission be a Tasmanian and preferably not even an Australian – but rather the Commission be formed by the United Nations selecting from across the globe persons it knows to be of absolute integrity.

    That may be hard to find – but if anyone can do it the UN can. Keep governments right out of it except insofar as government provide adequate funding to enable such a Commission to do its work properly.

  27. Lyndall Rowley

    December 8, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    John (#1, 11, 18 & 25).
    You are another of my preferred candidate picks to stand as an Independent (pref. House of Reps.) in the upcoming state election.

    Working alongside the likes of Simon W. I think you’d make a good team and bring some integrity and true community representation and values back into government. Your work in particular in regard to holding Private Forests Tasmania & related others to account is notable, as well as other challenges you’ve taken up to authorities as mentioned in TT.

    I encourage you to stand for the people of Tasmania.

    VOTE 1: John Hayward for Independent

    “I FIGHT FOR INTEGRITY IN GOVERNMENT AND FAIRNESS FOR THE COMMUNITY”

    (or “Vote for me and I’ll keep the bastards honest”)

    PS – Make sure you’re not a dual citizen before you sign the nomination form.
    PPS – If the Independent route is too difficult alone, perhaps consider joining a small party like JLN if policies suit and you can operate with a good conscience?

    Nomination info from the AEC website:

    “Candidates may not lodge nominations until after the writ for the election has been issued. The date fixed for the close of nominations must be at least 10 days, but not more than 27 days after the issue of the writ.

    Nominations must be made before 12 noon on the day nominations close. Nominations will be declared 24 hours after close of nominations.

    Senate – Nominations for the Senate are made to the Australian Electoral Officer (AEO) for the State or Territory.

    House of Representatives – Nominations for the House of Representatives are made to the Divisional Returning Officer for the division where the election is to be held.

    For a general election the registered officer of a political party may make a ‘bulk nomination’ of all endorsed House of Representatives candidates within a particular State or Territory. This allows all of a party’s candidates to be nominated in one action.

    … Nomination forms … must contain … information including:
    • for endorsed candidates – verification of their endorsement by the registered officer of the party, and an indication of whether the party’s full name or abbreviation is to be printed adjacent to the candidate’s name and whether the party’s registered logo is to be included on the ballot paper;

    • for unendorsed candidates – nomination by 100 electors of the relevant division, and an indication whether the word ‘Independent’ is to be printed adjacent to the candidate’s name

    Senate candidates must pay a $2000 deposit with their nomination

    House of Representatives candidates must pay a $1000 deposit with their nomination

    These deposits are returned if a candidate is elected, or gains more than 4% of the total first preference votes, or if the candidate is in a group of Senate candidates which polls at least 4% of the total first preference votes.

    http://www.aec.gov.au/Elections/candidates/overview.htm

    Crowd-funding could be used to obtain the deposit? (I’d kick in some $$ for sure. Ditto for Simon).

    What do you say?

  28. Simon Warriner

    December 8, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    re 26 … I agree that it would certainly be helpful if the Commissioner of any Integrity body set up to investigate corruption in Tasmania was not previously a resident of the state. Beyond that, I doubt the UN would be much help. They generally aren’t, and we cannot afford them in any case. Rarely, with the exception of the US military, is so little done for such large expense.

    re 24 … Thanks, but no thanks, Lyndall. I am quite happy to keep pushing the Independents barrow, and should I stand at this point I would be conflicting my interests. That and I honestly think I can achieve more by encouraging people to think critically about party representation. Stand by for more on that matter……

    Maybe further on down the track.

  29. TGC

    December 8, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    #28 … re #24 … Keen-but not that keen – happy to nominate others to take the risk.

  30. Lyndall Rowley

    December 9, 2017 at 9:58 am

    TGC #29 … I’m unfamiliar with any history you and Simon might have, so it’s difficult for me to judge exactly how loaded (if at all) and personalised your last comment is.

    However, it occurred to me that I could also take the same message to apply to myself and any others who share strong opinions with a political bent on TT and elsewhere.

    Clearly politics is a very dirty game. You need an extremely thick skin and the stomach for being around some rather nasty people who are motivated by political power – e.g. always playing in-house tactical oppositional games rather than conducting themselves cooperatively in the full service of delivering a high standard, well-functioning government in the best interests of the people and the state. At times the atmosphere would be pretty toxic and very unpleasant to work in, I imagine.

    I’m not made of the right stuff to be a politician, and I can’t criticise others who wouldn’t want to subject themselves to the negative ‘corporate’ culture that comes with the profession either.

    Don’t you agree, TGC?

  31. TGC

    December 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    #30 … Generally, yes! And it is also true that there’s a ‘toxic’ culture outside the ‘parliamentary’ sphere – particularly online!

  32. TGC

    December 9, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    #27 John Hayward is hardly “Independent” He holds – strongly- very fixed opinion.

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