When it comes to Australia’s “irrelevant” crimes against humanity, I anticipate that the Australian Federal Police will continue with the same policies and practices in regard to the manner in which some federal politicians abuse the “Entitlements Fund”, a pool of money worth billions over the last 20 or 30 years. It is my intention to forward this posting to the Federal Police with a request that Andrew Wilkie’s request to audit back to 2010 be extended back to 1st July 1996.
Anyone who wished to copy the URL below and email to the Federal Police is welcome to support this call. The Federal Police email address is:
[ The short link URL copy is: http://wp.me/p1n8TZ-nv ]
Tonight,s posting scopes down to look at the fine details of the excuse “I made a mistake” that politicians regularly roll out if caught out with claims of questionable legality. This posting takes a layman’s view of what the Rules for Entitlement Claims say, what the law says, and looks at how “Chopper-gate” stacks up against these rules and laws.
How valid was Bronwyn Bishop’s “I made a mistake” explanation for chartering a jet in November 2014 and a helicopter in 2015?
The answer to that question is to be found in the Parliamentary Entitlements website run by the Department of Finance. A quick quiz at the website and it soon becomes apparent that although our federal politicians collectively have millions of dollars’ worth of benefits up for grabs, every one of those benefits comes with readily available, easily understood rules that must be obeys.
To help with understanding and obeying those rules, there are as many as 5 different layers of help available including handbooks, 3 Help Desk systems, and perhaps most significant of all, a ‘last line of defence’ (for us taxpayers) in that in some “special” cases, the permission of a government minister is required, e.g. CHARTERING AIRCRAFT. The rules for chartering aircraft are set out below:
4.6.1 Electorate Charter – the Entitlement
“Senators (except Senators from the Australian Capital Territory) are entitled to use charter transport at Australian Government expense within and for the service of their State or Territory. Members representing electorates of 10,000 km2 or more are entitled to use charter transport within and for the service of their electorate.””
This rule is 2 parts:
- Senators, having a statewide electorate, can charter an aircraft to fly within their state on official business.
- Members representing electorates of 10,000 km2 or more are entitled to use charter transport within and for the service of their electorate.”
So here is a summary of how the “Entitlements” claims system works.
Step 1 in the system is that politicians have access to handbooks, and on-line copies of the information in the handbooks.
“Office holders’ entitlements handbooks provide information on the additional entitlements provided to certain office holders. Generally, references to the specific entitlements of an office holder are provided, but in some cases, the full entitlement of an office holder (that is, as an office holder and as a Senator or Member) is discussed.”
Step 2 in the Entitlements claims process is that politicians are advised that “These handbooks complement the Senators and Members’ Entitlements handbook and are for general information only.
Entitlements summaries outline the full suite of entitlements available to the relevant officer holder (that is, as an office holder and as a Senator or Member).”
Step 3 provided the crucial advice that makes the difference between a ‘mistake’ and ‘fraud’, i.e. rorting of entitlement for politicians are expressly told:
“Where you are unsure of an entitlement, please contact your Entitlements Manager before taking any action or decision on the basis of any material contained in these publications alone.
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP: According to the Rules of Entitlement, exactly when must a politician contact an Entitlements Manager? The magic word is “BEFORE” spending taxpayers money. If they opt not to first check their right to claim an entitlement, then it is a conscious, i.e. deliberate, ‘Act of Omission’ which, when public monies are involved is one or more crimes which I shall identify later on.
Level 1 – Check the handbook “before” you spend any of the taxpayers money: If a politician loses a handbook, or even the entire set, they can whip out the laptop, iPad, or even a mobile phone and download a new handbook from:
Level 2 – “If in doubt”, contact Help Desks (plural) staffed with people who are paid to provide expert advice on what can and cannot be claimed. In Bronwyn Bishop’s case, apart from the generic Help Desks, she also has an Assistant Secretary of the Department of Finance, Mr Jason Ford, who is the head of the “Entitlements Manager” section within the Department of Finance. His job is to oversee a team of people who are experts in helping federal politicians understand what can and what cannot be claimed.
Level 2 – Option #1: Talk to the Entitlements Manager’s top dog, a bureaucrat named Jason Ford whose contact details are as follows:
Phone: 02 6215 3403 Fax: 02 6267 3279
Level 2 – Option #2: Talk to the Entitlements Manager for Members of Parliament from New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, Ms Lauren Barons, whose contact details are as follows:
Phone 02 6215 3426 Fax 02 6267 3016
Level 2 – Option #3: If the designated Entitlements Manager for a specific state is not available, talk to one of the other designated Entitlements Managers who support other states:
Shane McGaughey – Entitlements Manager – QLD & SA
Phone 02 6215 3827
Deesiree Kaufline – Entitlements Manager – QLD & SA
Phone 02 6215 3640 Fax 02 6267 3419
If Mr Ford, Ms Barons, Mr McGaughey, or Ms Kaufline were not available, or if Bronwyn Bishop or her advisory staff, did not wish to speak to such high level experts there were still at least 3 other options available. At the next 2 levels, politicians like Ms Bishop would practically be slumming because they would be talking to people who actually are working in Parliament House. Check this link out:
Level 3 – Option 1 during Parliament House Office during Sitting Periods
“M&PS has an office open in Parliament House during sitting weeks, staffed by a member of the Entitlements Management Branch, to assist with entitlements enquiries. The office is located on the Ministerial side of the Members’ Hall, adjacent to the Pool of Reflection.”
Accessing this literally ‘in-house’ human resource, i.e. the local experts, is perhaps best done via the “Walknet” system. This is a truly unique truly whereby a politician, or a member of their advisory staff, stands up and undertakes a health exercise activity known as walking. The politician, or their appointed staff advisor, follows the above directions to the office of the on-site, in-house Entitlements Managers. [ Health warning: Care must be taken not to fall into the Pool of Reflection ]
Hours of operation in Parliament House during Sitting Periods.
Monday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Tuesday to Thursday
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Phone: 02 6277 7040
Email: Parliament House – 180 KB (Hotlink from the webpage to a booklet)
Level 3 – Option 2: Entitlements Management Branch Help Desk
Phone 02 6215 3542 Fax 02 6267 3279
Level 3 – Option 3: The Staff Help Desk
Phone 02 6215 3333 Fax 02 6267 3271
Like the Leyland Brothers 30 – 40 years ago, members of the Federal Parliament like to travel, especially since taxpayers are footing the cost for much of this travel. In November 2014 when Bronwyn Bishop hired a small commuter jet plane, and when she recently hired a helicopter when in Melbourne, local Entitlements Management support would have been useful. It was in fact available as a 4th level source of information:
Level 4 – Commonwealth Parliament Offices and State and Territory Managers
- Australian Capital Territory: Stephen Frost
- Phone 02 6277 6087 Email M&PS-ACT@finance.gov.au
- New South Wales: Sharon Brigden
- Phone 02 8289 9900 Fax 02 8289 9919 Email M&PS-NSW@finance.gov.au
- Victoria Toni Rikys
- Phone 03 9660 6600 Fax 03 9660 6619 Email M&PS-VIC@finance.gov.au
- Northern Territory Ainslie Ward
- Phone 08 8941 4133 Fax 08 8941 4199 Email M&PS-NT@finance.gov.au
- Queensland Daniel Anderson
- Phone 07 3001 8900 Fax 07 3001 8999 Email M&PSQld@finance.gov.au
- South Australia Ben Hooper
- Phone 08 8205 1000 Fax 08 8205 1099 Email M&PSSA@finance.gov.au
- Tasmania Katie Tchia
- Phone 03 6231 0734 Fax 03 6231 2934 Email M&PS-Tas@finance.gov.au
- Western Australia Rosie O’Hare
- Phone 08 9260 5000 Fax 08 9260 5085 Email M&PS-WA@finance.gov.au
Level 5 – Option –Write a letter to the Help Desk team
Ministerial and Parliamentary Services
Department of Finance
John Gorton Building
King Edward Terrace PARKES ACT 2600
Level 6:- The Chartergate Rule 4.6.5 Option.
Note that this is mandatory if you want to charter a passenger jet or helicopter.
You will find the Chartergate Rule 4.6.5 option at:
Scroll down the page until you come to this Rule:
4.6.5 Special Charter
“The Special Minister of State may approve the use of charter transport within Australia in special cases, e.g., where there are no scheduled commercial services or where the use of scheduled commercial services would result in undue delays. A Senator or Member wishing to use charter transport in such circumstances should obtain the approval of the Special Minister of State, before travel is undertaken.”
Note the last sentence: “A Senator or Member wishing to use charter transport in such circumstances should obtain the approval of the Special Minister of State, before travel is undertaken.”
Senator Michael Ronaldson is the Special Minister for State, and if Bronwyn Bishop, or any other member of the Federal parliament wants to charter a jet plane or a helicopter, they need his permission to so BEFORE doing so. UNLESS of course, the politician wants to pay for the ride out of their own pocket. They do not need permission to do that.
Senator Ronaldson’s contact details are as follows: Phone 02 6277 7820
Fax 02 6273 4140
Email via http://www.aph.gov.au/Senator_Ronaldson
Mail: PO Box 6100
Canberra ACT 2600
Since Senator Ronaldson, a former Barrister, i.e. a lawyer, is the Special Minister for State, the Minister for Veterans Affairs, and an elected member of the Liberal Party since April 1994, it is therefore highly likely that Senator Ronaldson is listed in the ‘speed-dial’ contacts list on Bronwyn Bishop’s mobile phone. It is an equal certainty, that Bronwyn Bishop has his office and/or personal email address.
The phrase “If in doubt” is the legal loophole that politicians try to exploit with the “I made a mistake” claim. However, they are not the first people to try to avoid accountability for the commission of crimes by using that excuse. In the last posting, buried in 40 pages of information was an extract from the High Court’s Boughey Decision which I’m repeating here:
Boughey v R  HCA 29; (1986) 161 CLR 10 “…ought to have known”
The phrase “…ought to have known” in paragraph 31 of Justice Gibbs summary of the Boughey murder trial appeal in 1986 validates both the above comments in relation to what politicians who wrongly certify travel and other expenses claims. In paragraph 14 of the findings, the judge said “It In the context of the content of the element necessary to constitute common law murder, the gravity of the charge requires that the content of the requirement that an accused knew of the probability or likelihood that his acts would cause death be not discounted.”
[TRANSLATION: Did Dr Boughey, the person who was accused of the murder know that his actions in strangling the victim, Miss Begum Mahjabi Ali, allegedly for a heightened sexual experience, was dangerous?]
In paragraph 32 Justice Gibbs goes on to state “The starting point of the inquiry on the question whether an accused ought to have known that his or her actions were likely to cause death must be the knowledge, the intelligence and, where relevant, the expertise which the particular accused actually possessed. The relevant question is not whether some hypothetical reasonable person in the position of the accused would have appreciated the likely consequences of the applicant’s act. It is what the particular accused, with his or her actual knowledge and capacity, ought to have known in the circumstances in which he or she was placed.”
MY COMMENT: In the Boughey murder case, the defendant was a medical practitioner, i.e. a doctor, who had specific expertise that applied to his actions. This case is a very valid precedent for considering Bronwyn Bishop’s claim of “I made a mistake” because of her professional skills and experience. Bronwyn Bishop is the longest serving female in the Federal Parliament with 28 years of experience that cannot be casually ignored as the following statement by Justice Gibbs clearly indicates: “the question whether an accused ought to have known that his or her actions were likely to cause death must be the knowledge, the intelligence and, where relevant, the expertise which the particular accused actually possessed.
The key principle at issue here is in the phrase “…the knowledge, the intelligence and, where relevant, the expertise which the particular accused actually possessed” and its relevance to Bronwyn Bishop’s education, intelligence, professional skills and experience as a member of the Federal Parliament.
- “Knowledge”: a federal legislator for 28 years.
- “Intelligence”: a university graduate with a law degree.
- “Experience”: 28 years’ experience in making Entitlements claims – she is one of the longest serving politicians in the Federal Parliament and therefore can be considered to be one of the most experienced members in matters such as monthly and bi-annual compliance certification obligations.
As Judge Gibbs put it so clearly, “The relevant question is not whether some hypothetical reasonable person in the position of the accused would have appreciated the likely consequences of the applicant’s act. It is what the particular accused, with his or her actual knowledge and capacity, ought to have known in the circumstances in which he or she was placed.”
The logic answer that may be reasonably adduced by any ordinary reasonable person serving on a jury is that Bronwyn Bishop knew precisely what she was doing when she chartered the 2 aircraft and it is highly likely that she avoided contacting any of the Entitlements Management support team because she did not wish to be told that she could not charter the aircraft at taxpayers expense.
What laws may have been broken? The law is the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act (1995)
Section 4 deals with defining act of commission or acts of omission as “voluntary” “physical elements” that constitute unlawful acts.
4.1 Physical elements
(1) A physical element of an offence may be:
(a) conduct; or
(b) a result of conduct; or
(c) a circumstance in which conduct, or a result of conduct, occurs.
(2) In this Code:
conduct means an act, an omission to perform an act or a state of affairs.
engage in conduct means:
(a) do an act; or
(b) omit to perform an act.
(1) Conduct can only be a physical element if it is voluntary.
(2) Conduct is only voluntary if it is a product of the will of the person whose conduct it is.
Obtaining a gain:
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if:
(a) the person does anything with the intention of dishonestly obtaining a gain from another person; and
(b) the other person is a Commonwealth entity.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.
Causing a loss:
(3) A person is guilty of an offence if:
(a) the person does anything with the intention of dishonestly causing a loss to another person; and
(b) the other person is a Commonwealth entity.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.
(5) A person is guilty of an offence if:
(a) the person dishonestly causes a loss, or dishonestly causes a risk of loss, to another person; and
(b) the first‑mentioned person knows or believes that the loss will occur or that there is a substantial risk of the loss occurring; and
(c) the other person is a Commonwealth entity.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 5 years.
Whether it is welfare recipients or politicians, rorting is a very serious crime. The refusals of the Australian Federal Police to investigate politicians is in itself a serious crime, i.e. an act of omission that demonstrates shocking political bias. The Australian National Audit Office 1997 Report of Performance Audit of Ministerial Travel Claims (Report #27, 22 December 1997) indicates that a review of ALL claims by federal politicians as far back as the Howard Government coming to power in 1996 is essential, i.e. as far back as at least 1st July 1996. To do less than this is to invalid all prosecutions of welfare recipients during this period, i.e. about 35,000 – 40,000 prosecutions. Such massive bias against welfare recipients is totally unacceptable. Paragraph 5 of the constitution states “This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, shall be binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State and of every part of the Commonwealth, notwithstanding anything in the laws of any State;”. Neither politicians nor the Federal Police can exempt politicians from being investigated for alleged rorting, and if the findings of an impartial investigation reveal grounds for prosecution, then it is a matter for the courts, not the Parliament, to determine the guilt of innocence of those accused of possible rorting. The question in the case of Bronwyn Bishop is whether or not there is enough evidence to justify possible charges? Having looked at what Bronwyn Bishop’s due diligence obligations were, her professional qualifications and experience, my personal viewpoint is that it would be a gross miscarriage of justice for every welfare recipient ever accused if she were to be exempted from prosecution because of the “gravity/sensitivity” of the case; a reality as is shown by the 2 documents below.
ON July 7th 2004, the Federal Police refused to investigate both possible rorting by a member of the Howard Government, and the possibility that John Howard had used his position as the Prime Minister to Obstruct justice, i.e. a possible crime under statute 149.1 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act. Note the phrase “gravity/sensitivity” and the fact that Federal Agent Denley did not deny that the law may have been broken.
The email below is almost a boiler-plate text repeat in parts of Federal Agent Denley’s letter above. Again note the use of “gravity/sensitivity” in this response to a request to investigate yet another Auditor-General’s report that politicians had ripped of taxpayers, this time to the tune of $4.64 million!
Ronald Medlicott – Registered teacher and a Christian advocate for welfare justice.