The truth behind the ‘brazen’ corruption scandal that has engulfed the Australian government
With one year to go until the election, Australia’s top political officials are still hiding behind the mask of the national security adviser’s position and refusing to explain the extent of the corruption that has infected their governments.
The scandal that was sparked by the resignation of the director-general of the Defence Force, Michael Griffin, has become a lightning rod for debate about the integrity of the nation’s top military leaders.
The fallout has left the Government in a quandary over who to blame for the scandal.
What are the options for those who wish to expose corruption within their governments?
In an interview with The Australian on Monday, a former senior government staffer said the most likely scenario was that senior Defence Force officials and senior bureaucrats were implicated in the scandal and that they were “a bunch of crooks”.
But he said there were other options, and that there were a number of reasons why they would not want to be implicated in what he described as a cover-up.
“There are other options out there that the Government could do,” he said.
The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the Government was reluctant to acknowledge wrongdoing and would likely go through the normal legal process, such as the parliamentary privilege process, but would be unwilling to take a more expansive stance than it has so far.”
Or they could be more circumspect and say, ‘Oh, it’s not as bad as they’re saying’.”
The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the Government was reluctant to acknowledge wrongdoing and would likely go through the normal legal process, such as the parliamentary privilege process, but would be unwilling to take a more expansive stance than it has so far.
The former staffer, who worked in the Defence Forces in the early 2000s, said he was “quite sure” the Government had a “pretty good idea” what had happened and was unwilling to allow it to be revealed.
He said the issue could be “put back on the table” for the next government but said the process would be “a little slow” and that the public would not be comfortable with it.
“It would be quite hard to take the next steps,” he told The Australian.
But, he said, it was the Government’s duty to make public the facts about what happened and that would include a public apology and an investigation.
The man said the question of whether or not to press charges or allow the matter to go to trial was a “serious question”.
“There’s a lot of discussion about whether or no you should prosecute or whether you should not prosecute,” he argued.
And the “serious” question was about whether a “big-name” lawyer should be retained by the Government.
The official said he had no problem with the Government “not prosecuting” Griffin or saying that he had been acting “unlawfully” and was therefore not fit to hold the position.
However, he was concerned about the prospect of a public inquiry, which would likely see a lawyer appointed to conduct an inquiry.
The man suggested the Government would be more open about its actions if it had a legal adviser and that, if he was a witness, he would not hesitate to speak out.
“The problem with an adviser is that they are a pretty big-name lawyer and they are also a pretty powerful person in their own right and that’s a big-ticket item,” he added.
“I think the public could be very uncomfortable if they saw a public figure who’s not doing the right thing.”
But the problem is the public won’t be comfortable that it’s just some anonymous source that they’re going to be hearing all these dodgy things.
“The man was referring to a former chief of staff to Defence Minister Stephen Smith, who resigned over allegations that he was being paid by the Defence Industry Commission to lobby on behalf of Defence contractors.
Smith said at the time he had not been paid by any agency.
But the former official said the same thing about Griffin.”
You can see the hypocrisy there,” he pointed out.
It is not the first time that the Federal Government has been accused of not acting aggressively to hold senior officials to account.
Earlier this year, a report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) said there was “serious concern” about the “unprecedented” amount of corruption within the Defence Department and the Government should “take swift action” to hold those involved accountable.
In July, former Labor minister David Johnston was arrested for allegedly using his position to influence the approval of a $2.7 billion contract between the Australian Defence Force and Lockheed Martin.
A week later, a federal parliamentary committee was told it was concerned the Government did not take enough action to protect Defence Force whistleblowers.
Last month, it emerged that a former staffer to Defence minister Michael McCormack had been investigated by police over allegations of misconduct after he made false claims about his work for Lockheed Martin, which is part of the Government-owned Defence Equipment Corporation (DEPCO).
McCormack resigned from