Demanding a government that is transparent to its people is one of my highest priorities – and no less than we deserve. In fact, this isn’t something that we should have to ask for, as honesty and openness of our elected politicians should really be a given, not something we need to demand.
This has become no more evident than in recent new reports of the Murray-Darling water buyback controversy.
We shouldn’t have to demand government transparency
In 2017 the former National leader, Barnaby Joyce, signed off on the payment of $200m in water buybacks in a process that happened without an open tender. There has been open criticism of a number of aspects of this deal, including that the quality and reliability of the water purchased was substandard and one of the companies it was bought from is located in the Cayman Islands, a known tax haven.
Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA) was paid $79m for water that the government had previously rejected twice before. It has emerged that the current Minister for Energy, Angus Taylor, was one of the early directors of EAA, although he was not involved with the company at the time of this water purchase.
The price paid for the water was very high and the due diligence undertaken in the process has been called into question, demanding a royal commission into the whole process. This would bring the entire unredacted paper trail to light for our consideration – which otherwise doesn’t have to be shown to the voting public or the rest of the parliament.
It has been widely reported that the water purchases may not have been true value for money and may not even have been returned to the Murray-Darling itself. Some reports are that the water purchased can’t be used outside of its own property location.
The different government factions argue over who may have profited from this process while the documents connected to the process don’t have to be revealed to anyone. The Opposition is calling corruption, and the voting public yet again are getting sick of the palaver that goes back and forth with no real solution.
I am not about attacking other parties or parliamentarians just for the sake of it – I am about creating a system of government that is entirely transparent and open to scrutiny
The system should be such that no outsider can claim corruption or that due diligence hasn’t been followed – because the tender process should be open for public examination.
A good government has nothing to hide, so I will seek to remove the hiding places.
Recently $400 million worth of funding was pledged to ‘help’ the Great Barrier Reef. That funding was awarded to a small company without a tender process that was comprised of representatives of Australian business, science, and philanthropy and is supported by companies including BHP, Qantas, Rio Tinto, Google and Orica.
Too much is kept behind closed doors and hidden from us because politicians think we don’t ‘need to know’.
This also includes:
- Withholding important information about the extent and immediate danger posed by global warming and climate change
- Withholding statistics and research results about child safety
- Expert medical opinion about the obesity crisis and mental health epidemic
- The tender process for the Adani mining proposal
- The questionable funding of a security company on Manus Island made available through Minister Dutton
- The proposed funding injection into Christmas Island, which in the last six months has already opened and closed the doors of the detention centre as the debate about refugees continues
- Closed decision-making processes about mines and forestry agreements
- And much, much more.
I want there to be open disclosure of government business. We have a right to know how and why decisions are made. I want to create a government of complete transparency including all high-level business deal, contracts, and tender processes.
We shouldn’t have to demand it, and if you vote for me, you won’t have to.