The shady dealings of the Health Services Union are now just a daily serial about the cupidity of those who have got into positions of influence by purporting to champion the ‘common man’.
Such venal corruption of those attaining elected office has a 2000 year history. Somewhat less traditional and little known 100 years ago is the employment of public funding by those in office to persuade the electorate to continue supporting them.
The new acting speaker, Anna Burke, is a veteran ALP crusader. Perhaps coincidentally, she is on the Board of Climateworks, alongside its Chairman, former Victorian Minister, John Thwaites, and former Keating adviser and reconciliation activist, Sam Mostyn . Climateworks is a pseudo-science campaigning outfit that promotes the need for renewable subsidies and is housed within Monash University’s Monash Sustainability Institute.
Ms Burke joined the board of Climateworks in April 2011, replacing Mark Dreyfus, and six months later the agency got a $424,000 grant from the Department of Climate Change to promote its Low Carbon Plan regionally. That is only part of its government funding. The Monash Sustainability Institute indicates that an additional $781,000 was provided by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments during 2010.
There has to be at least a scintilla of interest conflict here. Something is not quite right when a Government Parliamentarian joins the board of a political advocacy agency that happens to be promoting a policy favoured by the Government and receives funding to prosecute that agenda.
Perhaps though this is the new standard. When a political party occupies the Treasury Benches, perhaps it has obtained the right to loot the country and use the money to reward its loyal followers and to provide ammunition in the public debate to promote its re-election.
Both the Chair and the Executive Director of Climateworks got two places on the Government’s NGO Roundtable on Climate Change. Others on the Roundtable receiving Department of Climate Change funding included the ACTU ($93,000); the Climate Institute ($250,000) and the ACF ($398,000).
There were dozens of other NGO’s, universities and semi-government bodies who also got Department of Climate Change funding to promote the line favoured by the government. In the year to end March 2012, over $40 million was dispersed, most to the research and its dissemination undertaken by universities, CSIRO, and BoM. These government institutions of course received far more than this from other government sources. Considerable sums from the Department of Climate Change also went to local community organisations, “To raise awareness of activity that is reducing carbon pollution and helping to build a clean energy future,” and to local governments to promote adaptation of coastal areas facing the oceanic inundation so heavily spun by luminaries like the richly compensated Tim Flannery.
The government has made it difficult to tot up all the spending thrown at promoting climate alarmism, funding of which is at the epicentre of the slogan “your taxes at work” . There is surely something morally offensive about the government seizing taxpayers’ money and using it to recruit people to promote its own propaganda but nobody seems to mind any more.