(The postings in this Blog are a memorial to the more than 3 million Aussie Battlers have been Breached. It is especially a memorial to the (estimated) 5,000+ Aussie Battlers who did not survive being breached. Please, help to spread the word about this humanitarian disaster by using the “Share with a friend” link in the right hand column.)
Whilst the Australian Crime Commission may have done sterling work in dealing with the “under belly” of organized crime, I not aware of any effort to address the far greater danger posed by the elite “Upper Crust” organized crime gangs. This communication, which includes an embedded email from the Federal Police, is a “heads-up” on a truly extraordinary situation. As I am merely an ordinary citizen, it probably means that I have a mega-serious credibility problem in raising these political corruption issues with the ACC.
When teaching new material that is difficult to comprehend, it was standard practice for me to re-visit what was well known by my students and use that as the launch pad for moving into ‘alien’, unknown territory. Please, bear with me whilst I briefly recap some well known issues that are directly relevant to the issues that I wish to draw to your attention.
19th Century – 90% of Australia’s indigenous population is wiped out.
Shooting, poisoning water holes, forcing people over the edge of high cliffs or giving them Cholera infected blankets; these were just a few of the extermination techniques used by early Australia’s settlers, often with the tacit approval of the various colonial police authorities, as they tried to wipe out our nation’s indigenous population. In Tasmania, the campaign ultimately proved 100% successfully, but the vast reaches of mainland Australia helped to ensure that a remnant of the indigenous population survived.
20th Century – The Three Ignored Humanitarian Disasters.
In the last two years Kevin Rudd has said “Sorry” for two humanitarian disasters, i.e. “The Stolen Generation” and “The Forgotten Generation”. Across the country, various state leaders and church leaders are still engaged in the process of apologizing to former victimized Wards of the State. There are a number of common factors in these three humanitarian disasters:
1. The victims were extremely easy to exploit;
2. They were exploited, physically, emotionally, financially and sexually;
3. Victims who spoke up and tried to gain attention to their plight were ignored;
4. Those who ignored the truth were the pillars of society, priests, police, politicians and those tasked by the State with oversight of those at risk, e.g. child welfare officials.
21st Century – The Humanitarian Disaster known as Breaching.
In the last quarter of a century, over 3 million at-risk Aussie Battlers have been placed at risk through a policy which until recently was known as Breaching. This meant that for a period of 3 months, impoverished welfare recipients would have the dole totally cut for and be left without any means of meeting their basic living costs.
It should therefore come as no surprise that on an ongoing basis, fatalities occurred. Centrelink’s Annual Reports contain some interesting statistics about Breaching activity:
1. Howard Government: FY 2000-01 there were 346,078 Breaches with a 13 week "non-payment period". (John Howard’s “Sudden Death” breaching policy which sometimes resulted in deaths caused by fatal heart attacks, strokes and suicides!)
2. Rudd Government: FY 2008-09 there were 2805 “Compliance Procedures”, i.e. breaches with an 8 week "non-payment period". (The new name merely hides the old sins.)
A check of Centrelink’s 2008-09 report into the 2805 people breached will uncover the fact that these people received “pre-breaching” assessments and were offered ‘post-breaching” support. The existence of this support in 2008-09 stems in part from a 2004 report by the Breaching Review Taskforce which highlighted the appalling humanitarian disaster caused by the Howard Government’s breaching policies. In FY 2000-01 when 346,078 people were breached, there was no pre-breaching assessment and no post-breaching support. The Howard Government simply abandoned people to fate with deadly consequences.
To be fair to the Howard Government, the 13 weeks “penalty” has been in place for a decade before the Howard Government was elected. However, deprived of the protection of the law, welfare recipients were as much “fair game” as were the victims of the Stolen Generation, Lost Generation and Wards of the State humanitarian disasters.
- Some CES staff abused their power by engaging in “Breaching competitions”;
- Some employers would offer wages as low as $2 per hour to women and threatened to tell the CES that the job seeker had refused a job which was automatic grounds for Breaching, if they did not accept the job;
- When the Job Network commenced on 1st May 1998, it marked the start of The Great Australian Rort Rush and within just 4 months, the Job Network was facing a total collapse of the system. Agencies took up-front payments of up to $3,000 when signing up long-term unemployed clients and then misused Breaching provisions to “Breach” the clients. This enabled them to then sign up a new client and repeat the whole process again. Centrelink management, not wanting to provoke a scandal in the run up to a federal election, imposed a secret moratorium on breaching instead of calling in the cops. Consequently, welfare recipients who had been breached were not compensated for having been defrauded of legitimate welfare entitlements.
On June 27th 2000, Cheryl Kernot, a prominent ALP MP, issued a press release containing specific details of the Howard Government’s implementation of a Breaching Quotas program which explain the 346,078 breaches that occurred in FY 2000-01. The Howard Government was misusing its lawful authority to defraud welfare recipients of legitimate welfare entitlements. The death toll from that illegal activity is unknown because, for obvious reasons, the “human impact” of Breaching has never been reported to Parliament.
The Breaching Quotas Campaign was totally unprecedented and it triggered such a massive humanitarian disaster that community welfare agencies were totally overwhelmed. They fought back by funding the establishment of the independent Pearce Inquiry which was chaired by Professor Denis Pearce. At that inquiry, some Centrelink staff put their careers on the line by testifying that they were being forced to meet Breaching Quotas. When the inquiry released its report, the FaCS Minister, Senator Amanda Vanstone, denied any knowledge of Breaching Quotas despite the massive increase in breaching numbers.
It is important to note that whilst Centrelink Annual reports contain massive amounts of data and details tables of “performance” results, the humanitarian consequences of breaching, including the death toll from this activity has never been reported.
The consistent absence of that data from DSS/Centrelink annual reports was a complete denial of the Transparency which is so essential for the proper running of our democracy for without it there is a lack of Accountability. In this case the accountability for the deaths of an unknown number of people who died after being defrauded of legitimate welfare entitlements. At this point in time, after years of trying to obtain this information, I can state with complete confidence that neither John Howard nor Kevin Rudd, plus dozens of other MPs and senators, has never denied or refuted a death toll in excess of 5,000 victims. Given that most of these deaths can be re-classified as serious crimes such as Felony Murder, it comes as no surprise that bureaucrats and political parties are not keen to release this information. The state of play at this point in time is that I have being waiting for the Home Minister, Brendan O’Connor, to make this information available since November 2009.
I strongly recommend that the ACC review the case, Crown vs Josiah Finch, SA Supreme Court, February 2006 on the charge of “Felony Murder”. The Crown alleged that a teenager, Josiah Finch knew who was responsible for the death of an acquaintance but had refused to disclose that information. In March 2006, Josiah Finch was sentenced to 14 years with an 8-year non-parole period. Clearly the SA Supreme Court takes a very dim view of people who conceal wrongful deaths! What would this court think of the politicians and bureaucrats who have concealed the huge breaching triggered death toll for decades?
One of the critical issues that I believe that the ACC should investigate is the total number of deaths that have occurred as a result of breaching practices and to determine how many of these deaths are either Felony Murders or, as is the case in Victoria, Manslaughter by Criminal Negligence.
A flow-on issue is the refusal of the Australian Federal Police to investigate the breaching quota activity in July 2004, citing “gravity/sensitivity” and implying a lack of resources to investigate the issues that I raised. I have two concerns about this refusal:
- Had the AFP investigated these deaths it is almost certain that fraudulent activity would have ceased and the public awareness of breaching fatalities would have resulted in the current measures being put in place much earlier.
- It is possible that the AFP and the Howard Government did a deal, i.e. no investigation of the Breaching Quota program in exchange for the increased police powers contained in the Anti-Terrorism Bill #2.
If I am correct about the second concern, then that legislation represents “The Proceeds of a Crime” and is therefore legally invalid.
The official roll of the Australian Federal Police is to protect the public from criminals. However, the refusal of the Federal Police to act in July 2004 and again in September 2009 raises the very real possibility that the AFP is actually protecting criminals from the public.
There is nothing in either the Australian Constitution or in the statute law that established the Australian Crime Commission that says that federal politicians are above the law. In fact, paragraph 5 of the constitution is quite clear that the laws of our nation are binding upon everyone. Therefore the ACC cannot ignore allegation that federal politicians may have engaged in organized crime activities.
The reference to ‘Perksgate’ in the email from Federal Agent Pearce that follows on from these comments, refers to a report by the federal Auditor-General which was tabled in parliament in September 2009. In that report, the Auditor-General went as close as he could to accusing federal politicians of being a bunch of thieving crooks:
“As elected officials holding public office, Parliamentarians are expected to act with integrity in accordance with the public trust placed in them.”
Page 12, Auditor-General Report No.3 2009-10. Audit Report – Administration of Parliamentarians’ Entitlements by the Department of Finance and Regulation. (a.k.a. the “Perksgate” Report)
If the Auditor-General is to be believed, in the run up to the October 2007 federal election, 144 MPs engaged in organized rorting of $4.64 Million of taxpayer’s money!
When Senator Vanstone was the FaCS Minister, she was quite strident in her claims that the government would crack down on (welfare) rorters because they were stealing money from the public purse. As a qualified lawyer and former Federal Attorney-General she was well qualified to classify rorting as a crime.
Since rorting is a crime and 144 federal MPs and senators engaged in organized rorting, then it follows that these 144 politicians were engaging in organized crime, a crime that is most definitely within the remit of the ACC. It is also equally appropriate to classify the political parties that allegedly organized that rorting as elite “Upper Crust” organized crime gangs.
A Comparison: Welfare Justice versus Elite Upper Crust Justice.
Centrelink’s annual reports make it quite clear that anonymous, unsubstantiated ‘tip-offs’ are a major source of information that enables it to achieve its goal of 10 prosecutions per day. However, as Federal Agent Pearce made quite clear in his email, the Federal Police refuse to accept complaints from the public about federal politicians who engage in criminal activities such as rorting! Quite clearly, two standards of Justice are in play.
Since FY 2004-05, ten AFP officers are “out-posted” to Centrelink to assist in training, guidance and technical support and Centrelink’s annual report makes it quite that they have no problem with anonymous reports whilst their Canberra colleagues blatantly refuse to investigate formal complaints from the public against federal politicians identified by the Auditor-General has having engaging in organized rorting. Such biased and elitist justice that blatantly protects politicians whilst dumping on the poor is totally unacceptable. The question is, why is the Federal Police leadership team acting in such an overtly partisan manner? Again, the possibility exists that the Federal Police are simply honouring the alleged secret 2004 agreement made with the Howard Government.
In May 2004, SA citizens discovered that a prominent federal MP, Trish Draper, had left her spouse at to look after her 4 children whilst, at taxpayers expense, she took a male companion overseas on a “fact finding tour”. After unsuccessfully trying to conceal her actions with a blanket media suppression order, Ms. Draper eventually admitted her “error”. The Federal Police refused to investigate. Please, compare 10 of Centrelink’s “10 a day” prosecutions from May 2004 and tell me what is uniquely different about Ms. Draper’s case that justifies the Federal Police refusal to investigate. Using the same logic, select 144 of Centrelink’s “10 a day” prosecutions from September 2009 and tell me what is uniquely about the alleged Perksgate rorters activities when compared to the 144 Centrelink prosecutions.
Whether or not you actually do those comparisons or not is really a moot point. The ACC is a Crown law enforcement agency and by making that request, I may have opened the door to lawyers defending clients accused of rorting by Centrelink to ask that question of the crown in court.
Political stone-walling and a lack of Transparency.
In a type written, hand dated letter dated 25 November 2009, Home Minister O’Connor claimed that an investigation into Perksgate had been made. Since Accountability requires full and open Transparency, I requested that Minister O’Connor make available full details of the investigation. To date, nothing has been provided to prove that Due Process of Law in regard to Perksgate has occurred. The best that can be said is that the 144 alleged rorters were either members of the former government or are members of the current government and that the AFP has used “government protocols” in refusing a request from a member of the public to investigate the alleged rorting. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house! It should therefore come as no surprise that so far, not one of the alleged 144 members of the Upper Crust gangs has been prosecuted. It should also come as no surprise that Minister O’Connor has also failed to provide the details of post-breaching deaths. When it comes to breaching triggered deaths and the Perksgate rorting ‘investigation’, a wall of silence exists.
- In November 2005, a senate committee secretly classified my 2004 complaint to the Federal Police as “confidential” and prohibited my copying and distribution of documents relating to those issues, even though some were already in the public domain. As of 28 March 2010, submission 287 to the Anti-Terrorism Bill #2 is “Not yet available” and probably never will be if the Senate gets its way.
- At the same time, another senate committee looked at the same material and then secretly threw the submission “overboard”. When challenged on their actions, they claimed that the deaths of welfare recipients, (through the maladministration of breaching legislation), were “irrelevant”. Personally, I don’t think that 5,000+ avoidable deaths are “irrelevant”, especially since the current senate committee inquiring into “Roofgate” is looking into the deaths of ‘just’ 4 workers.
- On March 1st 2010, the Senate Standing Committee for Environment, Communication and the Arts, (ECA), used both of the above tactics to prevent a submission which would have exposed ‘the other maladministration deaths’ from being published on the Senate’s website. This committee misused its powers and buried my submission by falsely claimed that the submission was “…outside the scope of the inquiry”. Given that Term of Reference #3 was an incredibly loosely worded “Any other matters”, it was quite impossible to actually be outside the scope of the inquiry!
When it comes to evidence of a cover-up of the disastrous, deadly humanitarian impact of Breaching Quotas, there is no shortage of public domain evidence of the impact of Breaching Quota activity and the cover-up of the disastrous consequences of that illegal activity.
- Cheryl Kernot’s press release provides specific details down to the first decimal place;
- Centrelink’s annual reports record the massive upsurge in breaching and the “Savings” achieved by this activity. (About a Billion Dollars per year!)
- Those same reports contain no reference to the Human Impact of Breaching, i.e. there is no Human Impact Statement in any of the reports. The absence of this information in parliamentary reports covering decades of Breaching activity is a powerful indicator that the horrific impact of Breaching was being hidden from the public and from State/Territory Law Enforcement agencies. Care to guess why?
- The Pearce Inquiry Report and the public submissions to the Pearce Inquiry.
Documents not in the public domain include:
- Archived DSS and Centrelink internal documents.
- The report of the Breaching Review Taskforce and submissions to that taskforce.
- Cabinet documents dealing with Breaching legislation and “Savings” from this activity.
- Parliamentary Privilege “confidential” classified public submissions. These can be identified by the “Not yet available” comment in the submissions listings to relevant senate committee inquiries.
- Public submission documents subject to a Parliamentary Privilege Suppression Order.
Breaching no longer exists so why bother? It is a matter of Public Interest, i.e. Transparency and Accountability, that the issues raised in this communication are investigated in an open and transparent manner in accordance with our nation’s democratic principles:
1. The public has a right to know if politicians have misused their lawful powers for unlawful purposes and;
2. Welfare recipients who have been defrauded of legitimate welfare entitlements have a right to know so that they can seek restitution and/or compensation.
3. The Australian Constitution requires that politicians who engage in criminal activity that merits a sentence of one year or more MUST be dismissed from Public Office. Many welfare recipients who were convicted of rorting far, far less that the 144 politicians allegedly involved in the $4.64 Million Perksgate rort have received longer sentences. It is crucial that people who could be convicted of rorting, fraud or of causing deaths by having a reckless disregard for human life (Felony Murder/Manslaughter) are identified BEFORE the next federal election.
4. Families of those who died are entitled know the full truth about the underlying causes of many of those deaths, e.g. the way in which Breaching Quotas were ruthlessly used to callously push at-risk Aussie battlers “over the edge”.
5. The public need to know which politicians and which political parties were engaging in these activities or knew about the humanitarian consequences of these activities and actively supported them.
6. Some of those responsible for breaching quota deaths are either still on the public payroll or else received publicly funded benefits.
7. Liberal Party and National Party backbench politicians who voted in support of the failed attempt to increase the breaching penalty to 26 weeks should be interviewed to determine if they were made aware of the death toll from breaching by their parliamentary leaders before they were asked or told to support this legislation. If they were kept in the dark about these deaths by their leadership teams, then they too are entitled to know this fact.
8. Murder is murder, whether with a gun, knife or computer. Welfare recipients in South Australia who died as a consequence of being defrauded of legitimate welfare entitlements are felony murder victims and there is no statute of limitations on these deaths.
9. Possible police corruption should never be swept under the carpet.
10. The Anti-Terrorism Bill #2 may be the proceeds of crime and as such its validity is questionable as are the convictions of those tried and found guilty of violations the laws contained in this legislation.
Perhaps for ACC officials, the most compelling reason for acting on the information provided is the issue of Internet Justice. China, North Korea are controlled by tyrannical governments who cannot effectively censor the flow of information via the Internet. This communication is a public domain “document” already posted on the Internet for the world to see.
“The System Protects the System”.
Three thousand years ago King Solomon came to that conclusion. (Ecclesiastes, chapter 4, verse 8)
The repeated refusal of the Australian Federal Police to investigate pandemic corruption in the Federal Parliament is a text book case of “The System protects the System”. Federal Agent Pearce’s email which comes next is a clumsy, crude attempt by the Federal Police to again protect politicians from the legal and political consequences of their own greed, duplicity and stupidity. It is totally unacceptable and must be impartially investigated by ACC investigators who have no links to the Federal Police.
Given that AFP officers are seconded to the ACC, I appreciate that that may be a difficult task. However, an open and transparent investigation must avoid any hint of Taint due to the involvement of AFP officers.
Ronald Medlicott (Christian welfare justice activist.)