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Australians lose when keeping count of Labor's broken promises

Liberal Party of Australia

Australians lose when keeping count of Labor’s broken promises

The 2023-24 Additional Estimates hearings held Monday 12 – Thursday 15 February 2024.

(See Senate Estimates transcripts here)

Australians pay twice for Labor’s broken tax promise

The Albanese Government has revealed it plans to spend $40 million for an advertising campaign to sell its lie on the Stage 3 tax cuts.

In response to Coalition questioning during Senate Estimates, Minister Gallagher said “…the decision of government is to agree to a campaign of up to $40 million over two financial years in relation to the tax campaign.”

This is significantly higher than comparable campaigns on tax cuts delivered by the former Coalition Government.

It’s another example of a government that thinks it can spin and spend its way out of a cost-of-living crisis when in reality, it will only hurt Australians further.


Treasury and Minister refuse to rule out changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax

Treasury Secretary, Dr Kennedy refused to rule out work being done within Treasury on further tax changes that would amount to more broken promises.

Dr Kennedy suggested he was unable to go to specifics of what is being worked on in the tax system, stating “particularly if they should be near a cabinet process or they are part of a deliberative process.”

Treasury Secretary confirms Treasurer part of the planning for the broken promise

Dr Kennedy confirmed in Senate Estimates the Treasurer would have been under no illusions about the advice that was being prepared by Treasury.

Despite maintaining the Government had no plans to change the stage 3 tax cuts the Treasurer would have known his department was going to recommend changes to the stage 3 tax cuts.

Dr Kennedy said he “outlined in broad terms that there were not going to be many opportunities to do that without looking at the tax system”.

Labor’s Stage 3 backflip timeline gets murky

Responding to questions from Senator Hume, Department of Finance officials admitted they had decided to increase the Medicare levy low-income thresholds of individuals and families before mid-December and the release of MYEFO, months before the Labor announced its backflip on the Stage 3 tax cuts.

This indicates that Labor was planning to make changes to the bracket creep reform well before the PM claims and raising further questions as to when the Government decided to start lying to Australians.

Suspicions were raised when Labor’s Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living – Medicare Levy) Bill 2025 stated the changes to the Medicare levy surcharge were provisioned for in the MYEFO.

Australian safety at bottom of list for Labor

On the first day of Estimates, Home Affairs tabled a document that revealed the serious crimes the 149 detainees released into the Australia community were convicted and/or accused of including seven murderers, 37 sex offenders, 72 people charged with assault or armed robbery or other serious crimes like kidnapping.

Uncovered by Senator James Paterson the document contains a timeline of events relating to the NZYQ court case and makes clear the shocking nature of the NZYQ cohort as well as the mismanagement by the Government.

On the Albanese Government’s watch 24 of them have now re-offend since they’ve been released into the community. That includes six who breached their visa conditions and a further 18 who have been charged by state and federal police for offences against the Australian people.

It’s time for the Prime Minister to front up and explain exactly why his Government and his Ministers, Clare O’Neil and Andrew Giles, have done nothing to protect the community from this serious danger.

Link: PM must step in on detainee crisis (

Zero applications for re-detainment

The Albanese Government finally admitted it made zero applications to protect the community from released detainees under preventative detention laws rushed through the Parliament before Christmas claiming it would be too complex.

The Government says it is still in the process of preparing to make an application.

Clip: Albanese govt fails to apply for a single preventative detention order to protect the community (

Home Affairs, AFP and ABF don’t know where detainees are

When questioned about the status of the 149 released detainees, neither Home Affairs, the Australian Federal Police or the Australian Border Force, were able to give clear answers relating to the locations of the NZYQ cohort or whether individuals had been arrested more than once. Several questions were taken on notice.

Link: ABF officials unaware which dangerous re-offenders are out on bail in the community – YouTube

Immigration Minister Miles too busy in London to be briefed on detainee crisis

The Minister for immigration was too busy campaigning for the Voice to attend important briefings about the detainee crisis. At the time the Minster was seen to be in London talking about the Voice campaign despite the ongoing issue back home that his department was attempting to deal with.

Link: Did Voice drown out minister’s detainee warnings (

Attorney-General’s inaction on NZYQ case

The Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus was briefed in June last year, three days after a directions hearing in the case of the detainee known as NZYQ, at which the judge gave a clear indication that the Commonwealth case to keep the detainee behind bars would likely fail.

Under questioning by Shadow Attorney-General Senator Michaelia Cash in Senate Estimates, officials from the Attorney-General’s Department confirmed a hearing report was provided to Mr Dreyfus’s office on June 5, following the June 2 directions hearing conducted by Justice Jacquelin Gleeson.

“The Attorney could have immediately raised concerns that the Government might lose the case. He could have flagged that the Government might need to start exploring legislative options to prepare for a likely loss. There is no indication he did that,’’ Senator Cash said.

It was revealed that Mr Dreyfus did however, on the same day, personally approve for the Australian Human Rights Commission to intervene against the Government in the NZYQ case.

Prime Minister and Defence Minister MIA on Red Sea response

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) have today confirmed that Prime Minister Albanese had no involvement in the decision for Australia to not send a warship to the Red Sea, nor was a National Security Committee of Cabinet meeting called to resolve Australia’s response to the request.

On multiple occasions PM&C deflected questions to the Department of Defence citing they had no oversight of the request made by the United States, stating “It was a decision by the Defence Minister.”

To make matters worse Defence officials confirmed that Minister Marles “was unable or [had] other commitments” to be able to participate in a videoconference with US Defence Secretary Austin following the request for Australia’s assistance in the Red Sea.

With 12 per cent of the world’s trade passing through the Red Sea this is an embarrassing revelation for Australia to have refused a request of our allies without it even passing the Prime Minister’s desk.

It is both remarkable and negligent that the Albanese Government seemingly couldn’t even be bothered to call a National Security Committee to discuss this request from the United States, especially given the woefully inadequate response provided by the Albanese Government.

Not open for urgent care

Labor’s failure to deliver its Urgent Care Clinics as promised was highlighted again in Community Affairs estimates, with the Department confirming that at least 72% of the clinics are not open for the extended opening hours that were promised by Prime Minister Albanese.

Adding to the broken promises on these clinics, was the revelation that 32% of the Urgent Care Clinics contracts went to a company called ForHealth, which has clear and concerning ties to the Labor Party.

Labor leaves Ukraine behind

The Coalition welcomed the mid-Estimates announcement of an additional $50 million contribution Ukraine that builds on the more than $285 million of assistance delivered by the former government.

While financial assistance is welcome, the Albanese Government is yet to clarify why it chose not to donate Australia’s out of service MRH-90 Taipan helicopters to Ukraine nor answered Ukraine’s request for more Australian coal shipments for months.

Senate Estimates also revealed that the $50 million commitment would come out of the already strained Defence budget – another sign of a Defence Minister that is cannibalising his own department.

While this decision has bipartisan support, it is inadequate against the reasonable and repeated requests from Ukraine for specific assistance. And despite constant promises of support from the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, the reality is that Australia’s contribution has fallen under the Albanese Government when compared to that of other non-NATO members.

All care, no responsibility on Landcare as Labor breaks yet another promise

During the Federal election campaign of 2022, Labor made huge play of a $75 million promise to create opportunities for 1,000 new ‘Landcare Rangers’ to “deliver on-ground actions to protect and restore Australia’s environment and heritage”.It then upped that commitment to $90 million in the October 2022 Budget.Yet, just over a year later, it has now been conceded by DCCEEW officials that the commitment has quietly been shelved.

Under questioning from Shadow Environment Minister, Jonno Duniam, DCCEEW officials admitted the starting point for the potential delivery of the commitment has been deferred until at least 2027-28.That’s after all of the original funding was meant to have been spent, and close to at least two Federal elections away.


Tafe and skills enrolment crash under Labor

Department officials confirmed that two years into the Albanese Government, Labor is running a skills deficit as the much-hyped Fee-Free TAFE program has only delivered 23,286 newly skilled workers from 300,000 enrolments to date.

The figures were forced out of the Albanese Government at Senate Estimates after the official mandatory data reporting documents was blocked from publication under the justification it would “damage Commonwealth-State relations”.

The National Centre for Vocational Education and Research also confirmed that commencements have dropped by 40 per cent since Labor took office with 110,000 less Australians enrolling in a new qualification, trade or training course.

Despite all of Labor’s promises to skill Australians their policies are failing and there are now over 50,000 less apprentices and trainees today than when Labor took office and over 110,000 less Australians starting a new course, qualification or trade.

Richard Marles v Defence Department

It seems there is “nothing to see here” as Labor tried to sweep Richard Marles’ feud with his own department under the rug.

Defence officials in Senate Estimates refused to give further details around a meeting between the Defence Minister and senior officials in which Mr Marles is alleged to have given them a ‘dressing down’.

Officials were unable to recall details and admitted that no minutes were kept from the October meeting. It is hard to believe that the Australian Financial Review has more notes about the notorious meeting than the Secretary of Defence.

Officials also confirmed rumours that Richard Marles’ was at his desk, red pen in hand, sending back briefs that contained spelling errors, saying “the Minister… points out the need to provide quality in the work we provide to him.”. The word is that a number of those briefs were personally proofread by the Chief of the Defence Force.

The Defence Minister should focus less on patronising his department, and more on leading from the front and addressing the issues that our Defence Force is facing.

Taipan helicopters

The Albanese Government must immediately clarify why it chose not to donate Australia’s MRH-90 Taipan helicopters to Ukraine, as requested by the Ukrainian Ambassador last year.

Labor has made various excuses as to why Australia is unable to provide the Taipans to Ukraine, including that it’s too late to fulfil the request, the aircraft may not be safe, and that the helicopters are not suitable due to low availability.

However, it was revealed in Senate Estimates today that the Taipans are in fact safe, some of the helicopters could be restored and readied, and that our close partners in New Zealand successfully operate a reliable fleet.

Despite Labor being caught red-handed misleading the Australian people and our Ukrainian friends, Defence officials were unable to confirm who within the department provided that advice. No one was prepared to accept responsibility.

Recruitment and retention

The recruitment and retention crisis in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is getting worse, as revealed in Senate Estimates. As of 1 January 2024, the ADF is 4,308 people below its authorised strength, a bigger shortfall than at last Estimates (October – 4,252).

Personnel numbers have dropped to 58,427 – well below the target of 62,735. The Army is the most impacted, with personnel numbers sitting at 28,236, compared to the target of 31,127. This is not surprising – in April 2023, through the Defence Strategic Review (DSR), the government gutted Army of its armoured vehicles, and moved personnel north, far from major cities.

Defence also confirmed that the time taken to recruit personnel has surpassed 300 days. This is unacceptable and the government must explain why Adecco, the government’s contractor, has not fulfilled its commitment to get that number down to 100 days.

Labor leaves our sailors in the lurch

In yet another failure of leadership, Defence Minister Richard Marles was a no-show when it came to standing up for our brave sailors who were attacked by a People’s Republic of China (PRC) destroyer in November last year.

Senate Estimates revealed that while our divers from the HMAS Toowoomba showed up for duty, our Defence Minister did not. He didn’t even seek a call with his Chinese counterpart to protest the sonar attack.

Under Coalition questioning at Estimates on Monday, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet confirmed the Prime Minister was informed of the incident on the day it occurred, just ahead of meeting Chinese President Xi at APEC in San Francisco.

However, the Department refused to confirm whether the Prime Minister raised the incident directly with President Xi, leaving little doubt that despite having the chance to stand up for Australian personnel, the Prime Minister chose the weaker path and failed to do so.

Minister Conroy misleads over Nauru’s diplomatic switch to China

Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Pat Conroy, has been caught out misleading over the extent of his prior knowledge of Nauru’s decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

The Minister had claimed to have been given a heads up by Nauru of the decision.

In Senate Estimates, department officials confirmed that whilst the Government was advised by Nauru that a “significant announcement was coming” it was only through other “sources” that the detail was uncovered.

It would seem Minister Conroy was wanting to give an impression that he and the Government had relations in Nauru such that he was given prior knowledge.

Albanese has not a care in the world for EU trade agreement

Prime Minister Albanese hasn’t lifted a finger to try to salvage an Australia EU Free Trade Agreement, failing to pick up the phone to his counterpart EU President Ursula von der Leyen for near on six months.

Revealed during Senate Estimates, Prime Minister and Cabinet officials confirmed that Prime Minister Albanese has not spoken to the EU President since early September last year, nor were they able to identify engagement with any other EU leader.

Under the Albanese Government not only have they let trade talks with the EU collapse but Mr Albanese has either raised the white flag or has no interest in such negotiations.

Free trade agreements require engagement from all levels of government, particularly when things go south. What does it take for this Prime Minister to show leadership when he continues to go missing on matters of economic and national security importance?

Labor stalling on key Jenkins recommendation

Senator Hume questioned the Department of Parliamentary Services about one of the priority recommendations of the Jenkins Review – the Parliamentary Health and Wellbeing Service.

Despite the Jenkins Review being handed down in November 2021, there has been no progress on recommendations other than the installation of vending machines.

The Department told the Committee they are doing work on “privacy pods”, so that people in the building can make “personal calls with their GP or counsellor outside of the workspace”. This was not a recommendation of the Jenkins Review, but instead a recommendation of the Department’s own feasibility study done separately.

The feasibility study also confirmed that a GP service was possible, at a cost of $361,000. This is exactly the amount that the Department of the Senate spent on designer furniture in 2022/23.

It is no wonder some staff are concerned the Parliamentary Departments are not serious in their commitment to implementing the Jenkins Review recommendations.

Labor’s fake family-friendly sitting calendar fail

A key Jenkins Review recommendation was that the Parliamentary sitting calendar should be family friendly.

Minister Katy Gallagher, responsible for setting the calendar, admitted that the 2024 Parliamentary Sitting Calendar has parliament sitting for four school holiday weeks. This will be the first time in ten years that will force parliamentarians and their staff to be away from families during school holidays.

The calendar means it will be the first time the Parliament has sat on Holy Thursday since 2008, meaning that many politicians and staff will not make it home before the religious holiday Good Friday and will be forced to travel home over the Easter weekend.

Minister Gallagher also confirmed that the Government’s sitting calendar completely forgot the Tasmanian school holidays.

Despite being responsible for implementing the Jenkins Review, officials from the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet revealed they were not consulted on the 2024 Parliamentary Sitting Calendar. What a family-friendly fail.

Labor’s still banking on fake saves from the NDIS

Almost a year on from the Albanese Labor Government setting its 8% target for growth in NDIS spending and there are still no policies that would deliver that target.

Under questioning from Senator Hume, the Department of Finance confirmed there was a material risk that the Government would not meet its 8% target for the NDIS spending.

Once again, Labor’s 8% target has proven to be based on nothing more than a hope and a prayer. This is a budget blackhole that will leave Australians billions of dollars worse off, and the NDIS with an unsustainable future.

Labor’s secret plans for the aged care sector

The Government has created further confusion and uncertainty for the aged care sector and the older Australians who rely on it, following a lack of clarity provided to the Community Affairs Committee.

Despite admitting that the final report of the Aged Care Sustainability Taskforce was completed prior to Christmas, the Department refused to provide a commitment on when this report will be released to the Australian public.

The Government’s determination to delay the outcome of the Taskforce has reaffirmed the Coalition’s suspicions that they are hiding their real intentions for the ongoing financing of the aged care sector.

Labor’s teddy bear barrelling

The Government was forced to explain why it spent $4000 of taxpayer money on teddy bears to promote their failed urgent care clinics, following questioning from Senator Ruston.

The teddy bears, which cost the Australian Government $16 each, seem to have only been provided to Labor parliamentarians, and add to the extravagant cost of the Government’s 40th birthday celebrations for Medicare.

On top of the teddy bears, department officials confirmed that $18,000 was spent on a vanity project ‘pop up’ used to celebrate the anniversary. The Department took the cost of the birthday cakes on notice.

Secretary’s right to ignore minister for golf games

Following questions from Senator Ruston on the likely impact of Labor’s new Right to Disconnect on the Department of Health and Aged Care, Secretary Blair Comley noted that he would exercise a right to disconnect by ignoring the Minister ‘from time to time’ and has in fact exercised that right to play golf on Saturdays.

Senator Ruston noted, the clear point here is the contrast between what is practical and what is now legislatively required by Labor’s new legislation.

Shingles vaccine rollout mismanagement

Despite promising 5 million Australians access to the shingles vaccine, Health Department officials confirmed that more than 80% are currently missing out due to the Albanese Government’s mismanagement of the rollout.

Under questioning, it was revealed that the Government has only secured 800,000doses , leaving more than 4 million without access despite the clear promise that was made to them.

Only securing enough supply to vaccinate one fifth of eligible Australians is not only unacceptable, but it places some of the most vulnerable Australians at risk of developing serious complications from shingles.

Convicted criminals receiving welfare payments

It was revealed in Senate Estimates that convicted criminals released from immigration detention following the NZYD High Court decision have been accessing welfare payments, despite ordinary Australians struggling with the cost of living and burdened with long call wait times and payment processing delays.

Blow out in Services Australia payment processing times

Australians are waiting longer to receive crucial welfare payments, with new figures revealing processing times have blown out under the Albanese Labor Government.

Documents tabled by Services Australia from Senate Estimates expose the delays and blow out in processing times amid a cost-of-living crisis.

No energy to meet apprenticeship promise

Departmental Officials have confirmed Labor’s much vaunted New Energy Apprenticeships program which promised 10,000 apprentices has only delivered 1,804. Officials confirmed the program is heading for an underspend because of the drastically slow take up.

Zero guarantee for Australian skills

Department officials confirmed Labor’s much hyped ‘Australian Skills Guarantee’ has failed to deliver a single apprentice on a single project anywhere in the country. This was a key election commitment from Prime Minister Albanese that has delivered nothing.

Assistant Minister breaches Ministerial Standards

Under intense scrutiny at Senate Estimates, Assistant Minister for Manufacturing Tim Ayres denied there was any conflict of interest associated with his role in the appointment of his former colleague, Glenn Thompson, to two paid board positions in the Industry portfolio.

The Secretary of the Industry Department, Meghan Quinn PSM, confirmed no conflicts of interest declarations were made by Assistant Minister Ayres in relation to his role in the appointment of Mr Glenn Thompson to the Rail Industry Innovation Council. In 2008, Glenn Thompson was a Director on the CBUS Board and assisted Tim Ayres to be installed as the “Alternative Director to Glenn Thompson”. The CBUS Board role was a paid position and included superannuation payments to Mr Ayres.

Now, as a Minister, it appears Senator Ayres has returned the favour and played an instrumental role in the appointment of Thompson to two plum government positions within his portfolio, worth almost $300,000 over the next few years. On face value, this is a clear breach of the Ministerial Standards and Assistant Minister Ayres should be sacked by the Prime Minister.

Broken Promise: Only two of 500 frontline workers on the ground

Only two of the 500 frontline community sector workers are on the ground (one in SA and one in NT) after nearly two years, the Department of Social Services admitted during Senate Estimates.

Worse still, the Minister allowed $38 million of the $169 million to flow to state and territory jurisdictions late last year despite delivering almost nothing.

Prime Minister Albanese said on 27 November 2023: “My government is taking immediate and practical action … We’ve delivered on our commitment of new frontline and community sector workers to support victim-survivors”.

Yet another broken promise from the Albanese Labor Government that is only harming Australians.

Cashless Debit Card data not available

The Department of Social Services admitted it does not hold month-by-month data on anti-social behaviour in former Cashless Debit Card trial locations. This means it can’t conclude whether the abolition of the card has had a net positive or negative effect.

Instead, the committee was told that in crime-ridden Ceduna, focus had shifted to investing in an arts centre on the foreshore and constructing a rocket launch site.

Minister ignores family and domestic violence

National Family and Domestic Violence Commissioner Micaela Cronin admitted to the community affairs committee that after a year in the role she had only met with the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth once. She has instead been continually pawned off to Minister Rishworth’s deputy, Assistant Minister Justine Elliot.

In the midst of a family and domestic violence epidemic, why does the Minister not have an interest in meeting with her commissioner?

Social media accounts sharing violence in rural Indigenous communities

Community leaders are doing nothing to stamp out the emerging trend of violent videos being published on social media accounts. eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant advises the commission does not have powers under the Online Safety Act to take down social media accounts. A challenge at a time when we are trying to turn the dial on family and domestic violence.

eSafety Commissioner at odds with her Minister

The eSafety Commissioner distanced herself from the Government’s decision after it rejected her recommendation of a trial on age assurance technology.

The technology would help to protect children from online harm, such as pornography.

The Communications Minister has been criticised by 50 leading child and women’s safety advocates for refusing to support a trial. The Government had claimed the technology wasn’t ready.

But, at Estimates, the eSafety Commissioner disputed this, saying: “We did not find that in our age verification roadmap. There are a range of technologies that are out there that are being used both for the purposes of gambling, for alcohol, and can be used to protect children from pornography as well.”

Labor failing to address antisemitism

The Albanese Labor Government’s response to rising antisemitism in Australia has been inadequate and unbalanced.

During Senate Estimates, it was highlighted by Senator Paul Scarr that while the Government has allocated funds to combat Islamophobia and support various communities, there is a notable absence of a specific, dedicated programs to address the increasing antisemitic incidents targeting the Australian Jewish community.

The Labor Government’s announcement on 19 October 2023, promising $25 million to both the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Inc (ECAJ) and Australian Palestinian, Muslim, and other communities, supposedly to enhance community safety and address various needs, might seem commendable at face value. However, this gesture falls short in effectively tackling the specific incidents and complexities of antisemitism.

There is a lack of a targeted approach to antisemitism, especially compared to the efforts against Islamophobia. It raises questions about the Government’s commitment to tackling all forms of hate speech and bigotry equally, as well as their commitment to ensuring equitable protection and support for all communities, including those most affected by rising antisemitism in Australia.


Shocking delays in compensation for terror victims

The government took four months to work out whether or not the 7 October attacks by Hamas was a Terrorist Attack and delayed compensation to Australian Citizens.

The delayed announcement of the scheme being approved came about after 5 pm on a Friday, as to deliberately avoid media attention as the scheme and general support within the Labor party for it has been seen to be unpopular within the government particularly among Labor backbenchers.

Link: Albanese government fails Jewish community with delays to victims of terrorism compensation – YouTube

Minister King to blame for abandoning Kimba Waste Facility

It was exposed in Estimates that the Government spent over $108 million in developing a dedicated nuclear waste storage site at Kimba, until the Minister decided to walk away from the site in August 2023 after opposition from a local traditional owner group and just before the Voice referendum.

Under questioning from Senator McDonald, Shadow Minister for Resources, the Resources Department and the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency (ARWA) told the committee that Minister King made the formal decision to not appeal the Federal Court putting aside the Kimba site two days before the final brief of policy and legal advice was provided.

It is unclear what motivated Minister King to rush a decision without receiving a full briefing.

It was also revealed that the Minister was advised that there were additional legislative and policy solutions to continue with the Kimba site despite refusing to appeal the court decision, however the Government chose to hide behind excuses and abandoned bipartisan support for the facility.

The Department were unable to provide an estimate for the cost of a new facility, did not have a timeline, and would not commit to building a dedicated facility, claiming the Government had not yet made a decision on the future of a waste facility.

Labor’s anti-business energy policies will mean paying more for power

Senator McDonald grilled the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water on the need for significant investment into the gas sector to firm the energy market as coal sunsets out towards 2030 and renewables are unlikely to plug the shortfall to the grid.

There are suggestions there would need to be a significant investment in gas procurement as high as 60%, however due to policies such as the safeguard mechanism and the gas market cap, if any new entrants have not been scared off, they will no doubt factor these pressures into the costs charged to consumers for power.

The department became very uncomfortable when asked about whether costs would likely be passed on. The response was that new entrants would have already baked those things in. So, in short. Yes.

More uncertainty for defence industry

The Albanese Government continues to show complete disregard for defence industry, refusing to clarify when they will release its response to the Surface Fleet Review.

Labor also couldn’t confirm how many frigates would be built in South Australia, or that any tangible capability decisions would be made.

We are now 296 days into what was described as a ‘short, sharp’ review, but it has now taken longer for the Government to consider the recommendations than it did for the independent assessment team to write the review. It would seem it’s lost in the pile of paperwork sitting on the Defence Minister’s desk.

The Government gave no guidance as to when we will see their response, instead stating that “most Australians, including Australians engaged in defence industry, appreciate that the government is bringing an orderly approach to decision making.”

The Government continues to show complete contempt for defence industry as it continues to drag out the Surface Fleet Review—a delay which is now longer than the time it took for the Defence Strategic Review itself.

Defence estate audit is demolishing morale

In Estimates, when asked if the Victoria Barracks in Sydney and in Melbourne were for sale, Labor couldn’t rule it out. In fact, when asked if the Victoria Barracks in Sydney and Melbourne were excluded from a review of potential divestments, the Government confirmed that these historic and cherished Army bases were in-scope.

The Albanese Government has already delivered a series of body blows to the Army by drastically cutting the Redback infantry fighting vehicle program, renegotiating the Boxer combat recon vehicle program, moving and merging key battlefield units further afield from their natural homes.

Morale is at all-time lows as soldiers and their officers leave the Army in record numbers, responding to the weak leadership and indecision of the Albanese Defence Ministry with their feet.

Selling off Victoria Barracks in Sydney and Melbourne would strike at the heart and soul of the Australian Army, it would be an act of cultural vandalism.

Brain cancer and the NDIS

In light of many recent reports of terminally ill patients being left in limbo as states and NDIS argue over disability supports the Opposition asked the NDIA why Australians who are left with profound disability following treatment for brain tumours are being denied access to the NDIS, have had cuts to their funding and whether there had been a change in the availability of plans to certain individuals?

It was a case of he said, she said with NDIA CEO Rebecca Faulkingham stating, “I don’t have the staff or the finical governance to deliver palliative services and I think we would all want people who are really well-trained in effecting those circumstances to deliver those services. We have to make a decision to see if people meet the requirements of the scheme and if we make that decision, it becomes a participant of the scheme. We then fund the disability related support for that person that they may need.”

Given the anecdotal stories published in the media in recent months this does not seem accurate.

Rat cremation using NDIS funding

Yes – you read that correctly, NDIS funded the cremation of a participant’s beloved pet rat.

The Opposition asked questions probing what specific criteria or guidelines the NDIS has for determining which animals qualify as support animals.

Upon ongoing questioning around this, NDIA officials could not and would not categorically rule out that a participant used NDIS funds for the cremation of their pet rat.

NDIA secrecy

It’s evident there’s a disturbing trend with Labor’s secrecy around the NDIS where it is doing everything it can to avoid scrutiny.

Lack of clarity from public officials, refusing to provide materials and information that was requested during Senate Estimates, is just the latest in a long line of secrecy where Labor is keeping vulnerable NDIS participants in the dark.

For the last 20 months the Coalition has called for honesty and transparency from Bill Shorten with regards to the sustainability of the NDIS, after he went to the election telling anyone who would listen that the NDIS had no sustainability issues and that plans would not go backwards while he was Minister.

NDIS misses checks on children with autism

Thousands of children with autism or developmental delay who should not be on the $42bn National Disability Insurance Scheme are still getting taxpayer support because public servants are failing to reassess their cases. The NDIS caseload of young children surged last year, as the number of 0 to 6-year-olds who joined the scheme skyrocketed 400 per cent. Despite admitting that the NDIS’s third quarter report was available and in the hands of commonwealth and state governments, the officials refused to table the documents or provide budget data over the past four months.

Attorney-General Dreyfus shows disgraceful lack of transparency

The Albanese Government’s cavalier attitude to transparency was on full display in Senate Estimates with the refusal to answer simple questions about a potential political appointment to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Shadow Attorney-General Michaelia Cash asked both the Attorney-General’s Department and the Minister at the table if Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus had recommended his political ally Justice Stephen Rothman as deputy Commissioner of the NACC.

“It is outrageous the Minister representing the Attorney-General took on notice a very simple question on whether the Attorney had recommended Justice Rothman,” Senator Cash said.

“This Government promised a new level of transparency and integrity before the election but has now completely retreated from that promise,’’ she said.

“To be hiding details of the issues around potential appointments to the NACC is an absolute disgrace. This has the potential to damage public confidence in the NACC before it is even a year old,’’ Senator Cash said.

Tony Burke’s department admits underpaying more employees

Minister Tony Burke’s Department of the Employment and Workplace Relations admitted it has underpaid more staff than it had previously publicly revealed, although they are not sure how many or by how much.

Answering questions from Shadow Minister Senator Michaelia Cash during Senate Estimates officials revealed that ongoing payment errors were made well after the initial cohort of 99 employees’ underpayments were first discovered.

“Tony Burke likes to lecture Australian small and family businesses about paying their staff correctly but has remained completely silent about his own Department’s extensive underpayments of its own staff.His hypocrisy is breathtaking,” Senator Cash said.

The initial underpayments occurred between 7 July 2022 and 11 August 2023. But further underpayments have been discovered between 11 August 2023 and 11 December 2023.

Tony Burke deliberately avoided scrutiny on right to disconnect

Tony Burke’s Department of Employment and Workplace Relations was involved in the drafting of the Greens “right to disconnect” legislation in December last year but did not consult with stakeholders on the matter.

Answering questions from Senator Michaelia Cash department officials revealed they issued drafting instructions on a number of occasions between December and when the legislation was introduced in the Senate last week.

“Mr Burke hid the details from the business community, avoiding any scrutiny of the law before it was introduced in the Senate a day before it was to be voted on last week,’’ Senator Cash said.

“The lack of transparency and consultation is an absolute disgrace,’’ she said.

No defence for disastrous defenders’ grant

Coalition Senators Duniam, McDonald, Nampijinpa-Price and Hughes joined together on Monday to expose a host of further problems with the Albanese Government’s disastrous $8.3 million grant to the Environmental Defenders Office.

The EDO is a radical environmental group that engages in mass green lawfare, and whose practices were recently slammed by Federal Court Justice, Natalie Charlesworth observed that the EDO’s legal team manipulated and coached a number of Traditional Owners, fabricated evidence, and that their claims were so lacking in integrity that no weight could be placed upon them.

Among a string of new revelations, it was uncovered $3 million has already been paid by the Government to the EDO for the completion of just one contract milestone. The Department has no awareness of (numerous) other examples of EDO witness coaching; no-one from the Government or EDO has apologised to the Traditional Owners who were manipulated in the Federal Court case; the Government failed to research and check a host of crucial details that should have been examined before the grant was ever awarded; and the Department will now have to consider widening the scope of their recently-announced investigation of the use of the grant.

Fallout from EDO grant spreads across government

The fallout from the Government’s grant to the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) was also the subject of questioning in other portfolios throughout Estimates.

Across the Attorney-General’s, Treasury and Industry portfolios, Senators Cash, Smith and McDonald raised a series of issues that highlighted the lack of co-ordination and due diligence within government in relation to the funding.

Questioning from Senator Duniam at the Environment and Communications Committee hearing also revealed that DCCEEW has not even sought the Department of Home Affairs’ advice on whether the EDO’s activities and extensive relationships with numerous well-funded and well-resourced overseas organisations might mean that the grant funding has breached Australia’s foreign interference laws.

Probe into potential EDO misconduct must be expanded

Calls for the Departmental review into the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) to be expanded into a comprehensive investigation and for the next multi-million dollar payment to be cut have been turbocharged by Coalition Senators after more revelations over the mishandling of the $8.3 million grant were exposed at Senate Estimates.

Further, concerns that the EDO violated their grant guidelines by receiving taxpayer funds were aired following evidence of social media recruiting for the EDO to coach people on how to participate as a ‘Relevant Person’ to challenge new gas projects in the courts.

Further revelations uncovered:

  • That the Government failed to undertake any due diligence of the organisation before making the grant, especially in regard to foreign donations.
  • That the Government has no plans to apologise to Traditional Owners for the hurt incurred from the conduct of the EDO, especially in the Munkara vs Santos case.
  • The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is now open to widening its review of the funding arrangement with the EDO.

Plibersek prolongs anxiety for Tasmanian salmon industry

Cruelly, there continues to be no sign of an end date for Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s review of salmon farming in Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour.

Last year, Ms Plibersek acquiesced to the requests of the EDO, Bob Brown Foundation and Australia Institute to review the right of salmon farming to continue in the harbour.The instigation of the review (and Ms Plibersek’s accompanying speculation about a possible shutdown of the industry) has already created deep uncertainty and anxiety across Tasmania – especially for hundreds of salmon industry workers and their families.

However, in replying to questioning from Shadow Fisheries Minister, Jonno Duniam, senior officials from DCCEEW were forced to concede that they don’t know when the review will end – other than it “won’t be before the end of March”.This means that the widespread frustration and distress caused by Ms Plibersek’s review will now span a period of at least four months.


DAFF purges senior (female) staff

At Rural, Regional Affairs and Transport Estimates, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) was forced to reveal that it has not only made a dizzying series of changes to its senior management positions over recent months – but that it has compromised its gender targets in the process, and that the circumstances surrounding some of the departures are highly troubling.

DAFF also admitted that a number of the incoming senior officials now won’t even be based in Canberra, leading to substantial new travel and administrative costs.

Responding to questioning from Senator Duniam, DAFF Secretary Adam Fennessy revealed that multiple Deputy Secretaries have left the Department in recent months.But he strenuously avoided giving clear answers to a number of questions about the causes of these departures.

After insisting that he led a “contemporary, values-driven organisation”, Mr Fennessy also ultimately found himself agreeing with Senator Duniam’s calculations that now only one (previously three) of the five Deputy Secretaries was a woman and that only 9 (formerly 11) of the wider group of 21 First Assistant Secretaries were female.


Plibersek’s bottleneck on ‘reform’ continues

Notwithstanding that the Minister is now nearly two years into a process that she committed to have completed by the end of 2023, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is still a long way from delivering her promised overhaul of Australia’s national environmental laws.

At Environment and Communications Estimates, DCCEEW officials were forced by Shadow Environment Minister, Jonno Duniam, to confess that they, extraordinarily, still can’t nominate an end date for their long-promised overhaul of Australia’s national environmental laws.

Of course, this all flies in the face of Ms Plibersek’s claims at the National Press Club, on 19 July 2022, that the actions of the Coalition Government had supposedly meant that she couldn’t afford to “waste another minute” in her management of the Environment portfolio.

Confirmation Minister can order misinformation investigations

Officials acknowledged the Communications Minister’s plans to give herself the power to order investigations into alleged ‘misinformation’.

This was a fact that was recently uncovered in an FOI – which showed the Minister writing to the Prime Minister to seek approval to have the personal power to order investigations into ‘misinformation’.

Except nowhere in any of her announcements – or the departmental materials placed online – did they reveal that the Minister would be giving herself the power to order such investigations.

Asked for the first time about this development by Senator Henderson, a Communications department official agreed that Minister Rowland would be allowed to take this action.

Minister couldn’t handle the truth on Optus outage

We learnt that during the massive Optus shut-down, the Communications Minister insisted on telling the public that mobiles would still connect to the 000 service, even after her own departmental officials tried themselves and found they couldn’t get through.

Under questioning from Senator Cadell, officials revealed three of their staff had used their own phones to try to get through to 000 – and two had failed to connect.Telstra had also warned the Minister that Optus phones were not always connecting to 000.

Despite the warnings, the Minister failed to reveal the problems at press conference she gave later in the morning.

The Minister had said she “didn’t want to cause panic”, and that she wanted to “be able to say that mobiles will still connect”.In doing so, she failed the transparency test of telling the full truth about the failures that saw thousands of callers unable to get through to 000.

ABC Director at odds with employees on charter

Senator Hughes questioned ABC Managing Director David Anderson on the constant instances of bias from employees as evidence that those ideological biases are not a result of the soundness of the charter, but rather that the national broadcaster has a problem with the culture within the network which sees individuals with predominantly left leaning political orientations sought for employment with the broadcaster. When Mr Anderson rejected this, Senator Hughes pointed to the fact that the very employees he was defending had moved a motion of no confidence in Mr Anderson regarding the coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

ABC faces more questions of bias, lack of transparency

During extensive questioning, the ABC revealed it had received 3000 complaints over its coverage of the Israel-Gaza war, with nearly 60% of these relating to allegations of lack of impartiality and bias.

The Managing Director was also grilled on why details of his five-year $1-million a year re-appointment had been kept a secret for so long.

FOI documents had revealed that neither the Communications Minister, nor anyone at the ABC, had chosen to reveal the reappointment until months after the decision, and only after it was leaked to the media.

Senator Henderson wanted to know why Mr Anderson hadn’t mentioned the board’s decision back in May last year, when he was asked about his salary package. Anderson said it was a matter for the board.

The FOI documents had revealed repeated engagement with the Minister on the reappointment.But the Minister had failed to mention it, raising more questions of a lack of government transparency

Are Labor liars, or are they just bad at grammar?

Estimates revealed that while Minister Aly blamed a missing dash in Hansard for making misleading claims about VET and TAFE data – Assistant Minister Chisholm doesn’t know how commas work.

When grilled about why Albanese Ministers were taking credit for 123,000 educators in training pipelines, claiming those educators had been in the pipeline since May 2022 (when in fact it was a combo of 2021/22 VET and Higher Ed data), AM Chisholm blamed a comma in a media release.

And when asked about why Minister Aly doubled down in the House last year, claiming those educators in the pipeline were ‘in no small part thanks to fee free TAFE’ (noting that didn’t start until 2023), he claimed he hadn’t seen the Hansard. Funny, that given Assistant Minister Chisholm has been in the Senate since 2016, he should know Hansard is available online..

Education department apologises for “restaurant rorts”

The Albanese Government has been shamed into banning education department bureaucrats from meeting in lavish restaurants after the Coalition exposed that thousands of dollars had been spent on “restaurant rorts.”

In Senate Estimates, the secretary of the department apologised for letting down Australian taxpayers over the blatant misuse of taxpayer funds which has resulted in Education Minister Jason Clare implementing new rules which cap the cost of taxpayer funded meals.

Big jump in public servants

The Australian Public Service Commission revealed that as of 30 June 2023, there were 170,332 employees in the APS.

When asked by Senator Hume to compare that figure to 2022, the APSC official revealed the APS had grown by 6.9%, which equates to 11,041 employees and was described by officials as “quite a big jump”.

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