Another exclusive feast of current affairs items: Scott Morrison’s “sports rorts” overshadowed by Nigel Scullion’s misuse of funds for Aborigines; New Yorkers squeezing last drop of profit from share market; bringing back some Aussie words; how America’s Pilgrims survived and prospered; Pentecostal pastor sums up coronavirus; Plug of the Week from Rowan Cahill.
How the Nationals rorted Aboriginal grants
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Coalition is justifiably in the dock and being roasted for the “sport rorts” affair. Some journalists in the National Press Gallery have made it their mission to nail Morrison himself for orchestrating the rort.
Their intentions are clear: they believe he is guilty of the misuse of public funds and can be forced from office. They are undiluted regime-changers who want a prime ministerial scalp hanging from their belt. They argue that John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull were all forced out of office, so why not Scott Morrison?
However, my attention has been grabbed by another story of massive Federal rorting that is far more devastating. It is receiving no attention whatsoever, with the exception of The Guardian Australia and its livewire correspondent Lorena Allam.
The essential facts are these: “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals, the retail giant Wesfarmers, two National Rugby League (NRL) clubs, the Brisbane Broncos and the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville, and Catholic and Anglican welfare organisations received millions of dollars from a Federal fund dedicated to alleviating disadvantage among indigenous Australians.
On 5 April 2019, six days before the Morrison Government went into takeover mode, the former Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, a National Party senator, approved more than $560 million worth of public funding (that’s taxpayers’ money) in his final six weeks in office.
London-born Scullion was a professional fisherman before entering the Senate in 2001. He became a minister in Prime Minister John Howard’s Government and Prime Minister Abbott promoted him to Indigenous Affairs Minister, a portfolio he held onto during the Turnbull and Morrison Governments. He retired at the 2019 Federal Election with a gold-plated parliamentary pension for life. In February 2012 he appeared in the second episode of Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet which she has called her most memorable show in the series.
Between 1 March and 11 April, 2019, Scullion approved 240 grants worth around $567 million from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy meant specifically to alleviate poverty, joblessness and disadvantage among Aboriginal Australians. It has an annual budget (taxpayers’ money) of almost $5 billion a year. According to the government’s own website its function is to “improve the way the government does business with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to ensure funding actually achieves outcomes”.
WA’s richest man, Andrew Forrest, was lucky enough to score an “outcome” of $3.828 million for “strategic activities that focus on getting Indigenous Australians into work, fostering Indigenous business and assisting Indigenous people to generate economic and social benefits from effective use of their land, particularly in remote areas”.
How voters paid for Coalition to win Queensland seats
With the Coalition straining to wins seats in Queensland at the 2019 Federal Election, the Brisbane Broncos received $10 million for the establishment of a girls’ academy and the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville received $2.7 million for a boys’ academy.
Let’s be clear: Scullion’s pre-election cash splash could not have occurred without the agreement of Indigenous bureaucrats. Their support would have been essential in getting the grants approved. Was their faithful service rewarded in any way? We don’t know.
Scullion has form. In 2018 he allocated cash from the Indigenous Advancement Fund (public money) to the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, the NT amateur fishing lobby and the Northern Territory Seafood Council, an industry group which he used to chair. The purpose of the grants? To oppose Aboriginal land rights claims.
Just because he has left politics, it does not mean that Scullion’s previous activities as a minister cannot be examined. And they should be. Scullion deserves to be summoned before a parliamentary committee to explain his conduct.
No wonder the Morrison government keeps postponing any decision to establish a Federal form of ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption. One minister hilariously claimed recently that it would be “too expensive”. Obviously, he’s quite happy to have Federal Indigenous programmes looted of hundreds of millions of dollars but not investigate the billions of dollars rorted in other Federal schemes.
Get rich quick from share meltdown
Addison Wiggin, a New York share urger, this week told his devoted followers how to get rich from the crashing share market.
Defying gravity and the worst trading days since the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) and the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Wiggin bravely urged investors to climb into the market and buy up certain shares.
“If you wait until tomorrow it could end up being a costly mistake,” he wrote. “Learn how to protect and even grow your wealth during this difficult time. Most people are losing a ton of money right now in the markets. It doesn’t have to be like that for you. Click here and learn how to prepare.”
For anyone who respects science and certainty, this is a click too far. Shares are melting down faster than a polar icecap.
Lost words revived
Joe Gillard is to be congratulated for publishing a neat little volume called Lost Words. Flicking through the pages you will learn about snollygosters (corrupt politicians) and young people who sleep all day and don’t work (dewdroppers).
There’s a word for the cosy room where you can watch Netflix and chill out (snuggery), and you can discover the meaning of collywobbles (stomach pain) and fandangle (a useless ornament). By the end of the book you’ll know what a blateroon and a flapdoodle are and you’ll be telling friends about grokes and fizgigs you’ve encountered over the years.
Each “lost” word is accompanied by a definition and an explanation of its historical origins and usage. Have you ever been caught betweenity? For example, trying to choose between a red or white wine?
Then there is the Shakepearean-like curse of Fie! – an expression of outrage as in “Fie upon you!” Or you might hear a grumpy uncle say, “That lad is a right little rapscallion.” He means the boy is mischievous. Or an uninvited guest who always appears around meal time and tucks in with a hearty appetite. He’s a scrambler.
Try to avoid wamblecropt, or should I say digestive discomfort after using hot chilli sauce or eating very spicy food.
Why are these words “lost”? In part, it is because they are considered old-fashioned by today’s standards. And secondly, the more that Australia becomes Americanised, the more Australians adopt their lingo and drop ours.
Crikey and stuff me up a dead bull’s arse, but I’m buggered if I’m ready to become a howdy-doody septic tank.
A page from history
When the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the East Coast of North America they were devastated by disease. Two and three people were dying each day. By mid-year 45 people had died, nearly half of the passengers of The Mayflower.
At the end of the year they held a Thanksgiving to celebrate their good harvest. The Pilgrims were joined by 90 Native Americans to feast for three days on corn, venison and fowl.
Quote of the Week
“Coronavirus is a Satanic attempt to kill older Christians so socialism can take over the United States.”
- Pastor Perry Stone, a prominent conservative and ordained Bishop of the Pentecostal Church of God in Tennessee.
Plug of the Week
Rowan Cahill, one of my most supportive readers, reckoned that my Notebook last week was a corker so he posted the following:
“Too much for the human mind … Alex Mitchell and a feast of good and bad news and the usual round of fungal low-life and lurkers and jerkers in high places”.
Now there’s someone who hasn’t lost the good words.