29 September 2016
by Jennifer Wilson

Turnbull's Taskforce Integrity: Let's start with the politicians, hey?

You may or may not be aware that in November 2015, the Turnbull Government announced the formation of “Taskforce Integrity,” a unit set up specifically to address welfare fraud in the form of undeclared income and non-compliance.

WA Turnbull Government Liberal MP Steve Irons tweeted his support of the innovation.

On Tuesday this week, we learned that Mr Irons charged taxpayers for flights from Perth to Melbourne for his wedding and he also charged us for flights from Melbourne back to Perth for himself and his new wife, Cheryle.

Treasurer Scott Morrison and disgraced Liberal MP Stuart Robert also charged taxpayers for the cost of their flights to the Irons’ wedding. Both men have since repaid those monies.

"Integrity" doesn't appear to be a word in Robert's dictionary. Forced to resign from his Human Services Ministerial portfolio in February after an internal investigation revealed he was a shareholder in a trust linked to major Liberal donor, Nimrod Resources, Robert is back in the news. A special anti-corruption taskforce is now investigating another dodgy donations scandal involving Stuart Robert and the Liberal fundraising body he controls. The investigation comes amid new questions about his cosy relationship with property developer, Sunland.

Returning money you’ve stolen doesn’t mean you didn’t steal it in the first place. I am reasonably confident that neither thief would have repaid the money had their thieving activities not been exposed, or in danger of exposure.

Irons also charged the taxpayer for a trip he made to the Gold Coast to attend a golf tournament.

I have no problem with addressing welfare fraud. I do have a very big problem with politicians stealing taxpayer money to fund their personal lives, and can’t quite see why they are any different from those who seek to illegally and immorally benefit from the welfare system.

Even with my new glasses, I’m unable to see why those who defraud the welfare system should be charged and perhaps incarcerated, whilst those who defraud the taxpayer are given the opportunity to return the money, face no charges, and no jail time.

Integrity, much?
On the subject of integrity, yesterday I watched in weary disbelief as Attorney-General George Brandis claimed that his government is holding a plebiscite on marriage equality. The reason? Because the"Australian people want a plebiscite" and we made this clear when we re-elected the Turnbull Government, thus giving it a mandate, claimed Brandis.

The Turnbull Government has a majority of one seat in the House of Representatives. This is hardly a mandate in anyone’s language.

Let’s quickly revisit the origins of this plebiscite. The notion was introduced by failed Prime Minister Tony Abbott to placate the rabid right-wing of his party who are incapable of rational thought on the topic of same-sex marriage and appear to view it as a catastrophic threat to their own heterosexual identities and unions.

Abbott was also inspired by the Irish referendum. He disregarded the fact that Ireland was obliged to alter its constitution to accommodate marriage equality, while we are not.

In Australia, it is a matter of a simple amendment to the Marriage Act, changed to discriminate against same-sex marriage in 2004 by the Coalition prime minister who lost his seat after taking us into the Iraq invasion on entirely spurious grounds and without any plebiscite — John Howard. But that’s another sickening story of lies, manipulation, immorality, death, despair and destruction.

Brandis concluded his litany of folded lies with the assertion that unless the opposition agree to a plebiscite, marriage equality will be delayed until the mid 2020s, assuming the Coaltion wins the next election.

The Turnbull Government is using the LGBTQI community for its own political purposes — delaying marriage equality as long as possible to placate the right-wing homophobes who permit Turnbull to play at being prime minister and to wedge the ALP.

All that is required is an amendment to the Marriage Act. Brandis made it clear yesterday that will never happen as long as the Coalition are in power. This is not because we the people demand a plebiscite. It is not because of any reasonable argument against marriage equality. It is because the likes of Cory Bernardi and George Christensen are terrified of the gays and lesbians and bisexuals and queers and transgender and intersex peoples.

We are going through all this expense and all this angst because some seriously unhinged men, obsessed with the sexuality of others, cannot cope with the idea of difference.

Personally, I think the Marriage Act ought to be abolished. There’s no place for the state in intimate relationships. However, as long as it exists, and as long as it remains the powerful cultural marker that it is, nobody should be forbidden access to its legal and societal privileges.

And on the grounds that some ignorant, terrified, dysfunctional men don’t like what other people do in bed?

Integrity, much?