Sports rorts shorts

As I’ve said a few times before, I’m not a big fan of scandals. With much of the country burned over the last season (not even last summer, it started in June) and coronavirus in the way, our supposed leaders could do better than argue about handouts for boatsheds. But the corruption is obvious, and someone has to pay. So, here’s my suggestion.

Morrison’s chief of staff, John Kunkel admits that he ran the entire show (given that he was in charge of Morrison’s office, this is highly plausible) and that Morrison knew nothing about it (doubtful, but impossible to disprove). Phil Gaetjens ( Kunkel’s predecessor, now Secretary of PM & C admits he screwed up the investigation. Both of them resign, and everyone goes about their business.

Result: the Opposition get their scalps, and can claim vindication. The government protects Morrison and loses a couple of obscure apparatchiks (admit it , you had to Google them just as I did). The Australian public gets the leaders it elected back on the job. They might not do a good job, but that’s our problem for voting them in.

23 thoughts on “Sports rorts shorts

  1. Can’t agree. Like many people (eg Ben Eltham who’s been going on about this on twitter for some time), I think Morrison and the Morrison government are unusually dishonest and unaccountable. We need to hold them to account for all the lies and cover-ups, keep a record of it all and keep it in the public domain.

  2. You’re letting them off far too lightly. Michael West on his web site has a compilation of the egregious conduct of the (mostly) Coalition members over the last 6 years.

    If we have got the Government the Australian public wanted, and they reflect the values of the electors, it means that 50% of the population are greedy, selfish and happily condone lying. Very sad.

  3. If other welfare recipients are forced to repay incorrectly received money then surely the ineligible recipients of sports grants should be made to repay them and the money reallocated to eligible applicants? There may be considerable fallout from this approach but at least it would be directed correctly, at the politicians and staff who created the problem, and it would reinforce a basic principle of fairness, that all should be treated equally under the law.

  4. “you had to Google them just as I did”

    It’s surprising you haven’t heard of Gaetjens, since he is an economist by background and was previously Secretary of Treasury.

  5. “Morrison knew nothing about it (doubtful, but impossible to disprove)”

    Unless someone on Morrison’s office was cretinous enough to send Morrison an email detailing which organisation in which marginal electorate was getting what, we have here a case of old friend plausible deniability.

  6. @Smith9 I had heard of Gaetjens, but I had to Google him to confirm that he was previously Morrison’s Chief of Staff, and I’d forgotten his fairly brief stint at Treasury. Maybe others are more attuned.

  7. Like the long running discussion of this so-called ‘sport rorts’ issue, most of the comments miss the point. Why should a programme like this exist anyway? The major sports are commercial activities. Local sporting facilities should be provided by local government. There are a few legitimate things that state governments or the Commonwealth might be interested in about sport but they don’t include deciding which local tennis court or football team should be funded. This was a slush fund from the start and what has happened was predictable. The programme is small. Much larger examples of maladministration and Commonwealth overreach like the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and submarines in South Australia are neglected.

  8. “They might not do a good job …” Has JQ been swotting too hard on the postmodernists? Understatement is not usually his style. The current Australian government IS doing a TERRIBLE job, no question.

  9. @James The interesting ambiguities of English. I didn’t mean “it’s possible they won’t do a good job, we’ll have to wait and see” but something more like “admittedly, they won’t do a good job, but that’s our fault for picking them to do it”

  10. JQ says “Both of them resign, and everyone goes about their business.”

    Sports rorts have a symbiotic fungus and the mushrooms you are seeing are, to us outside, usually hidden, – Lib Nat agrement anyone? / Lambie vote for veterans ptsd?- unless extreme like sports rorts. All fed by,

    …” in the fortnight between 27 March and 11 April, the government announced 70 appointments to boards, statutory bodies and tribunals, and diplomatic postings. One in five people appointed to government bodies in that fortnight had links to the Liberal or National parties.”

    Just eating the mushrooms – Kunkel & Gaetjens – leaves the fungus fully operational. With tighter light exclusion making it harder to expose and manage.

    Which means we need protection of the media AND a sabre toothed and well resourced federal icac…
    “The second reason I was attentive, but sanguine, was media organisations possessed the institutional power to check the worst impulses of powerful people.

    “Now, 23 years after I started as a reporter in Canberra, I question both of my previous beliefs, at a fundamental level.

    “Our ecosystem is profoundly disrupted.

    “Politicians are bolder, and we who watch them on behalf of voters are weaker institutionally.

    “These deductions take me to the logical place. The case for a national anti-corruption commission is now entirely self-evident.”

    Sports rorts changes everything. It’s time for a federal Icac
    Katharine Murphy
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/07/sports-rorts-changes-everything-its-time-for-a-federal-icac

    If as you say JQ, “Both of them resign, and everyone goes about their business”, this will be strengthen the whole fungus in government & supporting biota, and the spores will end up lobbying from outside or worse, be on of the “One in five people appointed to government bodies in that fortnight had links to the Liberal or National parties.”.

    As Val says “We need to hold them to account for all the lies and cover-ups, keep a record of it all and keep it in the public domain.”

    And we are left with Alistair Watson’s question; ” Why should a programme like this exist anyway? ” Excellent question.

  11. I had to google John Kunkel but I worked with Gaetjens many many moons ago. He was a clever, competent and agreeable fellow but not seen as a particular star in any way. But he was quite careful.

  12. I’m surprised that you are being so generous towards Morrison. Have a look at Rick Morton’s article about him in the “Saturday Paper” and you might change your mind about him and what you appear to see a a “little picture” issue.

  13. Ha I just came here to recommend Rick Morton’s article and I see Stuart has beaten me to it. Anyway here is the link https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/opinion
    I highly recommend that people read it. Morton’s point that while many politicians are uncomfortable being questioned and try to avoid or cover up things they don’t want to talk about, Morrison takes this to a new level, is one key point. It’s really important to hold him to account, he has been destroying political discourse in Australia at least since ‘on-water’ matters. Accountable democracy in Australia is declining and Morrison is a key player in this.

  14. This particular scandal should result in a federal ICAC. However, Morrison is dead against any inquiry, not because he has anything to hide, but because it’s in his nature – he just needs to win every point.

    In that respect he has become the Emperor with no clothes eg on many occasions he refused the banking RC yet the opposition prevailed and won the day. Yet he won’t concede any political loss and claims that the govt had been working for a very long time on banking reforms.

    Pugnacious and chutzpah are two words synonymous with Morrison.

  15. Morrison has a lot to hide. That is why he is against inquiries, openness and accountability.

  16. There’s a lot of talk on Twitter about how the Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020 has been caused by the lack of trust engendered by the sports rorts following the bush fires.

    I agree. In fact Morrison is so untrustworthy he’s caused toilet paper panics all over the world.

  17. Smith9 is obviously being ironic. Clearly, Morrison did not cause the toilet paper panic. Equally clearly, he is responsible for a lot of other things. At some level he was a contributory cause to the sports rort. He was an important contributory cause to Australia being badly under-prepared for the serious bush-fire season which was well predicted by those with specialist knowledge. Morrison stands responsible, in all or in part, for quite few of the serious problems we are now facing as a nation.

    As for the toilet paper panic, I was bemused that toilet paper preparedness apparently was rated above food preparedness. It was definitely rated above the safety of not closely engaging with other people in a public or commercial place during the start of an epidemic. What better way to catch coronavirus from someone carrying it than to engage in a tugging, spittle-flying argument with them?

    I did “prep” for this pandemic by putting a few extra items in my shopping trolley each time I shopped, doing this bi-weekly since mid January. I “knew” by that time to a high degree of certainty that a world pandemic was possible and even likely (more than a 50-50 chance). The signs were there. That is not panic, it is timely preparation. Timely preparation that is proportionate, not excessive, does not cause shortages. The supply chain has time to adjust. In fact, it front loads supply into the period where supply chains still have the capacity to adjust. Individual and household stocks will mean less need for a fully operating supply chain later when the supply chain indeed may be degraded.

    Australia and other nations like the USA and UK, will now pay the price of the neoliberal minimization and degradation of government positive intervention and administrative capacity. More draconian security laws exist on the booksto control people and the national security apparatus is ready to use those (probably against rather than for the people). But positive intervention capacity by government in medical, care and other areas has been degraded by de-funding and other stratagems. As well as “just in time” supply chain management we have seen the implementation of “just enough staff” staffing. This works until a crisis when suddenly there are simply not enough staff in employ and not enough trained and ready to bring into employ.

    We notice that the managerialists in the governments (state and federal) have no idea how to respond to a real crisis. They are focused on spin and subsidies for facile “industries” like tourism rather than on real problems. Tourism is a consumption activity not an industry. Our governments are increasing or about to increase tourism advertising at a time of pandemic! Nothing could be more absurd. Increasing tourism also increases pollution, greenhouse emissions and resource shortages. This is a not a long term strategy in any shape for form. They are not examining nor even flagging the need to re-examine our economic dependence on tourism, foreign students and one major trading partner. These are deep-seated structural problems which will need to addressed after the pandemic.

    We need to switch a significant proportion of production from facile and ephemeral goods and services (like tourism, sport, gambling, drinking, cosmetics, fashion and entertainment) to essential goods and services including the switch to a renewable, sustainable economy and to full social, age, dental and medical care (to name a few areas). Does this sound grim to people? Well, a collapse caused by over-consumption of resources for frivolous purposes will be much grimmer and even, in a way, deserved if it happens.

  18. Somewhat annoyingly I just moved house and it seemed silly to buy groceries only to pay someone to move (or break) them. Which meant that on Saturday I really wanted to do a big shop to get back to my normal 2-3 weeks of groceries in the house. But some key things were out of stock. Weirdly rice milk, which I normally buy by the 12x1l box because I go through a lot of it, but there were 7 in the local supermarket. So I’ll be using Aldi non-organic rice milk instead (the horror!). Also less pasta and sauce than I’d like because those were popular with the panic buyers. Curry sauces etc and rice noodles were there in large quantities even though the pasta shelves were stripped. I get the strong feeling that the great majority of people really did just buy an extra few meals worth of easy to store stuff.

    I did succumb to panic though, I bought *two* bottles of laundry liquid.

  19. It is amazing that so many people don’t “get” what the Bridget McKenzie statement is actually about.

    Will offer up this from the doyenne of Australian journalists, Michelle Grattan, at the Conversation.
    It well backs stuff from several writers at the Guardian, eg Katharine Murphy, Amy Remeikis, who also understand the significance of what Bridget McKenzie claimed late last week:

    https://theconversation.com/more-sports-rort-questions-for-morrison-after-bridget-mckenzie-speaks-out-133160

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/08/sport-australia-defies-senate-on-questions-over-sports-rorts-grants

    People DO understand the implications of McKenzie’s comments, don’t they?

    But what do people understand after the PM refusing to answer questions at a Friday presser and the reports concerning the sabotaging of legitimate inquiry by Sports Australia, it is not a case of he said she said. This is about a protracted series of lies ruinous to supposed colleagues from the person this country entrusts responsibility to for legitimate government. McKenzie’s statement moves SportsRorts BEYOND the realm of conspiracy theory to an ugly example of the pathology of those in the highest places of government in this country.

    We know it has substance because of the curious lack of attention given it by sections of media and press.

  20. “We know it has substance because of the curious lack of attention given it by sections of media and press.”
    Ha,ha! Tell me what is new! This is the “free press” don’t you know?

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