Tasmanian Times

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To be or not To be …

Executive summary of the Integrity Commission ...

The powers that be in Tasmania have had their attention drawn to the deficiencies within the Tasmanian Integrity Commission and have done absolutely nothing about them.

 In his 2016  Independent Review of the Integrity Commission Act the Hon William Cox AC RFD ED QC  noted:

 “The Commission is concerned that there are misconceptions about its role in dealing with corruption in the public sector. As it stands, the Commission deals with misconduct and serious misconduct, both of which have the potential to relate to corrupt conduct; however, ‘corruption’ and ‘corrupt conduct’ are not mentioned in the Integrity Commission Act. The Commission believes that there needs to be detailed consideration of whether and how corruption and corrupt conduct should be dealt with in relation to the Commission’s functions, particularly in relation to its investigative powers and resourcing. This would include consideration of the interrelationships between the term ‘misconduct’ in the Integrity Commission Act with the terms ‘corrupt conduct’ and ‘improper conduct’ in the Public Interest Disclosures Act 2002 (‘PID Act’).

 The Commission takes no further position on whether it should, or should not, have the powers and resourcing to investigate systemic or institutionalised corruption. Ultimately it is for the Government of the day and the Tasmanian community as a whole to debate the issue, and to subsequently ensure that the Commission has the appropriate legislation and resources to achieve the objectives of the Integrity Commission Act.”

 In other words the Act as created protects those that govern and rule in Tasmania from prosecution or for that matter investigation in all matters relating to corruption.

 This was I suggest done with both purpose and intent when the Act was drafted by colluding Pollies be they Liberal or Labor to protect their own skin if they had the misfortune to be found out when acting corruptly.

It has resulted in the protection of those involved in corrupt acts relating to the Pulp Mill.

Their cases were dismissed as being outside the remit of the Act and therefore incapable of investigation. How can this be so?

In October 2014, the Tasmanian Integrity Commission released a report highlighting what it believed to be a significant weakness in the legislative regime under which it operates—that is, the lack of a ‘misconduct in public office’ offence in the Tasmanian criminal code.

Those that govern us in Tasmania are not interested in being caught out by an Integrity Commission and the Liberal Party under SCO MO will be no different.

They will recreate a Tasmanian Lite Corruption Commission given half the chance.

We are dealing with bad people who only act out of self- interest and we must not forget it.

With this in mind I would like to think the proposed new Federal Act will embrace this scenario as detailed in Hansard:

The following important speech  by Senator Whish – Wilson regarding the need for a Federal ICAC was made in the Senate  Tuesday, 20 June 2017. This matter is now coming to a head as the Liberals move to take the high moral ground in an effort to win an election,

We do not need window dressing we need proper legislation with real teeth.

I would like to think that under any new legislation this case of blatant corruption over due process will be the first cab off the Tasmanian rank.

Hansard Page: 4430

Senator WHISH-WILSON(Tasmania) (20:23):

Now to my adjournment speech that I gave last week. I would like to put a little case study together and refer directly to an article in the Tasmanian Times I referred to—in the last paragraph. The article is by Mr John Hawkins from Chudleigh, and you can download it on www.tasmaniantimes.com.au. The article is termed ‘Why …?’ and was written on 20 April 2017. In this article, John Hawkins outlines that on 27 January 2006, Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz became the federal Minister for Forestry in the John Howard Liberal government. Hawkins then states:

On the 16th March 2006, some 6 weeks later, Abetz lunched with Ian Blanden, CEO of Gunns Plantation Schemes, and discussed the Gunns Pulp mill, MIS plantations and the 12 month pre-payment rule with no sunset provision.

‘These matters’, at the time were, ‘vital to the future solvency of both Gunns’s business’ and many in the MIS forestry plantation industry. Hawkins notes:

This conversation was documented by the Chairman of Gunns Ltd John Gay in a letter to Abetz dated 29 March 2006 on Gunns Ltd company letterhead and sent to the Minister. (Document 1).

Hawkins also notes:

Three weeks later on 21 April 2006, Gunns gave the Liberal Party—

a donation of—

$50,000 … which was accepted.

Hawkins asks: why? He then asks:

Was this a donation made in an attempt to influence the thinking of the Minister to act in favour of the company—

Gunns Ltd. He says:

A large political donation made outside the electoral cycle is unusual. It was, I suggest, made with the sole aim of gaining the ear of the Minister for Forests, one Senator Eric Abetz.

He then goes on to say:

Abetz was in a position to protect and promote the highly-profitable Ponzi Nitens Woodlot Managed Investment Scheme … that were at this time keeping Gunns Ltd solvent. The demise of these schemes through ATO action caused their promoters to finally call in the liquidators.

I went into this in significant detail in the first half of this speech.

At the time, Senator Abetz was negotiating with Minister Peter Dutton, then Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, on changes to managed investment schemes. I just note that the $50,000 donation to the Liberal Party was authorised by Mr John Gay, the CEO at the time, who was subsequently convicted of insider trading but who was then chairman of Gunns Ltd. Mr Hawkins further states:

By 22 June at the latest … Abetz reports to Gay—

This refers to document 3, a letter from Senator Abetz to Mr Gay. Mr Hawkins continues:

Unaware of this $50,000 … donation, I wrote to the Financial Review expressing my concerns.

Mr Hawkins also comments on a letter he wrote to The Ageregarding Bob Brown. Mr Hawkins says that Senator Abetz threatened to sue him for defamation over his comments in these two letters but that Senator Abetz then withdrew. This particularly annoyed Mr Hawkins, who dug in deeper and went through FOIs to uncover more documents. In the end, he claims:

Abetz then sent two goons to my front door to threaten me. I informed them that the days of the Third Reich and jackboots were over and that they should return to their master and tell him that I would pursue him to the grave.

This is a public document on a public website and available for anyone who wants to read it.

Mr Hawkins claims that these political donations, which were made to the Liberal Party—as I outlined last week—and also to the Labor Party, were unduly influencing policy, which later turned out to be a total catastrophe for so many investors around this country, not to mention rural communities. I would note for anyone interested to read document 7, which is Mr Hawkins’ letter to Mr Abetz, where he says: ‘I am not saying anything about personal corruption. I am just saying that it looks really bad that you took donations of $120,000 after you became forestry minister and after you changed MIS policy which favoured these companies. His letter states:

I have no problem with corporate gifts to political parties during election campaigns, but when you back a winner after the race and the bet is accepted this is easily misconstrued and can have sinister connotations.

Your thoughts would oblige.

John Hawkins

This is very important, as I stated last week, because the current matter of public interest is significant around political donations. It is not just a national issue; it very much applies to my home state of Tasmania. There is legitimate concern in the community that not everyone has the same opportunity to lobby decision-makers or to donate to political parties, and that those with the deepest pockets and the most power and connection are better able to influence policy making. The secretive way most lobbyists and donors currently operate means that the public cannot be confident that decisions are being made in the public interest and on merit, after considering a broad range of views. The Greens have before this chamber three private senators’ bills for an independent ICAC, an integrity commission and donation lobbying reform. It is time that we actually got on with it. (Time expired)

John Hawkins born and educated in England. He has lived in Tasmania for 13 years. He is the author of “Australian Silver 1800–1900” and “Thomas Cole and Victorian Clockmaking” and “The Hawkins Zoomorphic Collection” as well as “The Al Tajir Collection of Silver and Gold” and nearly 100 articles on the Australian Decorative Arts. He is a Past President and Life Member of The Australian Art & Antique Dealers Association. John has lived in Australia for 50 years and is 75 this year. In two of the world’s longest endurance marathons and in the only teams to ever complete these two events, he drove his four-in-hand team from Melbourne to Sydney in 1985 and from Sydney to Brisbane in 1988.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Emmanuel Goldstein

    December 20, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    Ho, ho, ho … and the cheque’s in the mail!


  2. max

    December 18, 2018 at 8:07 am

    We live in a world that is controlled and run by corruption. We elect politicians who are beholden to their sponsors, the ones who donate to a party or person so they have the finance to pay for the propaganda that sways the gullible. Until we stamp out donations to politicians we will have politicians who are controlled by their reliance on donations.

    It would be simple to stop all donations if the politician had the will .. but they won’t, why? Donations give them an edge over the more honest who would be elected if the bribes called donations were stopped.

    Until we stamp out donations to fund politicians we will have politicians who are corrupted by their reliance on donations .. and because they are corrupted they will refuse to vote for anything that will uncover their corruption.

    It is that simple.

  3. John Hawkins

    December 17, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Jack … the interesting matter here is that the Mercury and the Examiner, who rely on the Political Advertising Dollar to stay solvent, never write or utter on such important matters in case they divert the State Government’s river of gold.

    As a result, the pollies can just ignore all the criticism in its entirety.

    What did the Mercury or the Examiner say when the Gambling Industry bought the election for the Liberals?

    Tasmanian Times is the only venue and place of record for tabulating what is a set-up created by Hall and Wilkinson to assuage we troglodytes with the production of a pantomime phantom .. the toothless so-called Integrity Commission.

    • Jack

      December 18, 2018 at 10:22 am


      With the federal LNP government proposing a similar model for its IC it has revealed the Tasmanian experience as a test case for what can be anticipated. Hence, it is very worthwhile highlighting this on TT and putting the comparison on the public record with the hope that the revision of the federal proposal in 2019 will in time give Tasmania no option but to follow. The deficiencies of the Tasmanian model are blatant and the score card laughable for any western institution.

      As the IC tells us, there is no corruption in Tasmania!

      You are correct about the self-interest that causes the MSM to treat the issue like kryptonite. This will backfire ultimately. People are starting to wake up to the cabal-like qualities of such relationships.

      Once the MSM is shown to have sat on its hands and allowed the establishment to avoid reform, thus cementing corruption, it will suffer a terminal loss of business. 2019 might well be the start of its Waterloo.

      What is needed is a state Independent who will take on the general issue of corruption and begin an on-line conversation with the people that sidelines the local MSM. So far such a person has not emerged. Engaging youth is important, and again, we are relatively slow to do this effectively. This is the cohort that will pick up the issue and spread the word effectively without giving a hoot about the broadsheets. They are also the people with the most at stake.

      Reforming the Tas IC will be a major step in putting the state on the right track and getting democracy and the justice system working for the people .. and not just the elites and the gambling industry.

      The Morrison government has the inverse Midas touch. It has recently blessed the Tasmanian IC model, so we can now anticipate that it will wither and die.

  4. Jack

    December 17, 2018 at 2:00 am

    “In other words the Act as created protects those that govern and rule in Tasmania from prosecution, or for that matter investigation in all matters relating to corruption.”

    It’s difficult to conclude anything else. The Australia Institute’s 2018 report (‘Tasmania’s toothless watchdog’) noted on the front page:

    “Between 2012 and 2016, NSW ICAC held 28 public hearings, referred 76 people for prosecution and made 123 findings of corruption. Tasmania’s IC scored zero on these measures and has never held a full inquiry.”


    The Tasmanian model corrupts the very meaning of ‘integrity’ as it is a political device that achieves the exact opposite. It mocks the people of this state and stands in the way of justice.

    • John Hawkins

      December 17, 2018 at 6:24 am

      Thankyou, Jack. That is an excellent reference from an authoritative source, and all TT readers should click on the link you provided: http://www.tai.org.au/sites/defualt/files/P465%20Tasmania%27s%20toothless%20watchdog%20FINAL.pdf

      I quote:

      “Definition of corrupt conduct …

      The jurisdiction of NSW ICAC provided by the definition of corrupt conduct is broad. It allows the Commission to investigate any person, whether or not they are a public official, whose conduct adversely affects the honest exercise of public office. It also includes breaches of public trust, official misconduct, dishonestly using public funds for private benefit and a long list of matters that could be involved. Any conspiracy or attempt to engage in corrupt conduct is also included.

      The key section of the definition from the NSW ICAC Act is provided below:

      (1) Corrupt conduct is:
      (a) any conduct of any person (whether or not a public official) that adversely affects, or that could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the honest or impartial exercise of official functions by any public official, any group or body of public officials or any public authority, or
      (b) any conduct of a public official that constitutes or involves the dishonest or partial exercise of any of his or her official functions, or
      (c) any conduct of a public official or former public official that constitutes or involves a breach of public trust, or
      (d) any conduct of a public official or former public official that involves the misuse of information or material that he or she has acquired in the course of his or her official functions, whether or not for his or her benefit or for the benefit of any other person.
      (2) Corrupt conduct is also any conduct of any person (whether or not a public official) that adversely affects, or that could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the exercise of official functions by any public official, any group or body of public officials or any public authority and which could involve any of the following matters:
      (a) official misconduct (including breach of trust, fraud in office, nonfeasance, misfeasance, malfeasance, oppression, extortion or imposition),
      (b) bribery,
      (c) blackmail,
      (d) obtaining or offering secret commissions,
      (e) fraud,
      (f) theft,
      (g) perverting the course of justice,
      (h) embezzlement,
      (i) election bribery,
      (j) election funding offences,
      (k) election fraud,
      (l) treating,
      (m) tax evasion,
      (n) revenue evasion,
      (o) currency violations,
      (p) illegal drug dealings,
      (q) illegal gambling,
      (r) obtaining financial benefit by vice engaged in by others,
      (s) bankruptcy and company violations,
      (t) harbouring criminals,
      (u) forgery,
      (v) treason or other offences against the Sovereign,
      (w) homicide or violence … “

      In contrast, the Tasmanian definition is narrower in its jurisdiction.

      It is limited to solely investigating the conduct of public officers. The Act provides a specific list of who is defined as a public officer, which includes people employed by the Parliament of Tasmania, in Ministers’ or MPs’ offices, government departments, the police service, a state owned company, local government or any other body funded by public money.

      It limits the ability to investigate parliamentarians, and anyone not a public officer.
      The Tasmanian IC is limited in its ability to investigate parliamentarians by the definition of misconduct, and by the protections of parliamentary privilege. The protection of parliamentary privilege means that parliamentarians are immune from investigation requests for information or documents. The definition of misconduct provides that the Tasmanian IC cannot investigate conduct that is connected with a proceeding in Parliament. This is broadly defined as ‘all words spoken or acts done in the course of, or for the purposes of or incidental to, the transacting of the business of a House of Parliament or of a committee … ’

      In other words it was designed by Tasmanian pollies to protect Tasmanian pollies.

      Only in your corrupt Tasmania!

      • Jack

        December 17, 2018 at 12:48 pm

        John … Two of the most pertinent issues and implications here are:

        1. “It is limited to solely investigating the conduct of public officers.”

        So, if a corrupt public officer is investigated by the Tas IC and a realistic chance of a negative finding exists, they simply resign. Afterwards there is not a thing that the IC can do. This has happened several times and the investigation becomes a sham and it cannot obtain justice or a valid determination. It is a get-out-of- jail-free card. If such a public officer has done something that might be prosecuted via the Crimes Act/Criminal Code the very fact that the Tas IC has progressed an “investigation” means that it is far less likely that this will happen.

        This is extraordinary, and the very opposite of justice. It is a total sham that protects the guilty, wastes money and destroys confidence in due process. It is, in itself, corrupt.

        2. “It limits the ability to investigate parliamentarians, and anyone not a public officer.”

        Even from a common sense prospective, given the large number of private contracts, individuals on boards and committees who direct public funds, it is absolutely pathetic that they cannot be held to account. They are part of the system of governance and service delivery, yet outside the law.

        The Tasmanian Integrity Commission is the most symbolic and practical example of politicians failing to deliver outcomes to protect the people of the state. It embodies and protects the main corrupting influences holding the state back and the self interests of politicians. It is Orwellian in its double-speak; it might otherwise be called the Ministry of Truth.

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