The investigation you have when you’re not having an investigation: Turnbull, Joyce & Parkinson.

27 Feb

 

Two days before former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce resigned last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull referred allegations that Joyce had breached ministerial standards to Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, for investigation on the following grounds:

The Ministerial Code of Conduct Section 2.23 states:

Ministers’ close relatives and partners are not to be appointed to positions in their ministerial or electorate offices, and must not be employed in the offices of other members of the Executive Government without the Prime Minister’s express approval. A close relative or partner of a Minister is not to be appointed to any position in an agency in the Minister’s own portfolio if the appointment is subject to the agreement of the Minister or Cabinet.

Turnbull suffered considerable angst as he attempted to redefine “relationship” in a manner that would not include an ongoing sexual affair and pregnancy, thus exonerating Joyce from the allegation of breaching ministerial standards because he wasn’t in a “partnership” with Ms Campion at the time of her employment.

Turnbull’s definitions were in stark contrast to those of Centrelink that govern the rest of the population, as I unpack here.

Turnbull’s motives for referring the matter to Parkinson are as yet unclear. We might speculate that increasing public ridicule forced his hand. Perhaps there was a deal with Joyce: you resign, mate, and I’ll see the investigation is dropped. Requesting an investigation created the appearance of a much-needed distance between Joyce and the Liberals. Please feel free to come up with your own explanation, however, what has very quickly become apparent is that the investigation was never genuine.

No sooner did Joyce resign from the DPM position, than Parkinson wrote to Turnbull, stating that in view of Joyce’s resignation nothing was to be gained by pursuing his investigation, and the matter is now closed.

If the matter was worthy of investigation whilst Joyce was PM, it is worthy of investigation after his resignation. The allegations concern the period when he was a minister, and the fact that he is no longer a minister does not negate the seriousness of the allegations. Presumably, were we to extrapolate this insane reasoning to other situations, someone who embezzled funds from their employer no longer needs to be held to account if they leave that workplace. A priest who assaults children need not be held to account by his church if he leaves that church.

While ministerial standards are not laws, the principle is the same.

Had Joyce been found to be in breach of the standards, next in the line of fire would be Senator Matt Canavan, who employed Campion when it was determined by Joyce’s Chief of Staff, Di Hallam, that Campion had to get out of her lover’s office. Then we turn to Turnbull himself, who, having denied all knowledge of the nomadic Ms Campion’s employment history, a denial contested by other accounts of the debacle, breached his own standards by not giving the express approval to her various employments, as required by the Code.

All in all there was little to be gained, as Parkinson points out, in pursuing the investigation, and a great deal, as Parkinson does not point out, to be lost.

Here’s my latest on the repercussions of mainstream media’s failure to report the Joyce affair prior to the New England by-election.

 

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12 Responses to “The investigation you have when you’re not having an investigation: Turnbull, Joyce & Parkinson.”

  1. Moz of Yarramulla February 27, 2018 at 9:50 am #

    Centrelink rules can’t possibly apply to other recipients of government largess. The first rule of Centrelink is: if in doubt, don’t pay. Can you imagine the PM or any other MP having to cope with not knowing when (or whether) they’d be paid? It would have made the s44 kerfuffle very different – a little note to each MP saying “you have 7 days to prove you comply with s44. In the meantime, we’ve suspended your payments”.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. paul walter February 27, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

    Turnbull’s slyness is as remarkable as Abbott’ bluster. Definitive.

    Like

  3. Richard Whittington March 1, 2018 at 9:50 am #

    I am no supporter of Barnaby Joyce but when I read your article in the IndependantAustralia attacking him over his private life I assumed it was satirical. So full of rubbish such as quoting allegations and then later in the article using those allegations as facts to support your position. Reminded me of Bob Santamaria who was probably before your time. I thought you must be some self righteous right wing sanctimonious religious person so was quiet surprised when I googled you to find that doesn’t appear to be the case.
    Perhaps I’m a bit stupid and it was satirical after all ?

    Like

    • paul walter March 1, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

      Probably the former.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Moz of Yarramulla March 2, 2018 at 7:25 am #

      No, it was a completely serious response to Australia’s Sacha Baron Cohen finishing up another performance. Hopefully he will get the ASTRA he deserves, and come out with a new character shortly.

      I think resigning for infidelity immediately after campaigning against same-sex marriage on the grounds that it would diminish his marriage was a triumph. Sadly the corruption sub-plot I think detracts from his primary message, but I admit that in Australia it’s hard to have politics *without* corruption so that was probably inevitable.

      Like

  4. Moz of Yarramulla March 2, 2018 at 1:15 pm #

    Grattan seems to have been influenced by Jacintamania 🙂 But yes, OMG Michaelia Cash has shown that she’s not one to stand back and let the old boys club grab all the limelight.

    https://theconversation.com/grattan-on-friday-what-was-that-about-making-parliament-house-a-better-workplace-for-women-92691

    Sadly my boss’s comment was “but can she really be relied on if she’s pregnant” to which I could only say “Barnaby has apparently been led round by the dick for the last year and you think pregnancy might be worse? How!”

    Like

  5. doug quixote March 2, 2018 at 7:26 pm #

    Cash’s mouth is amply big enough to accommodate both of her feet at the same time. And it often does.

    i f she wasn’t a woman she’d probably be warming a seat in the backbench.

    Discuss.

    Like

  6. allthumbs March 17, 2018 at 12:53 pm #

    Let’s not forget Vikki, whose travel records have been kept secret despite a number of FOI requests. I see no need to portray her as an ingenue in the whole saga. As a former journalist and media adviser she obviously knwe which way the wind blew.

    Like

  7. extrusões de alumínio de porta March 22, 2018 at 3:11 pm #

    Good blog! I really love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I might be notified when a new post has been made. I’ve subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!

    Like

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