Mr Roger Shipton, still currently of ASIC, likes to have his hand held. He got me and other taxpayers to pick up a tab north of $100,000 for tax advice when he took his position at ASIC. Since this came to light in October of last year, he has stood aside. If it was not obvious then, it was certainly obvious by now that no one could have confidence in ASIC if he returned permanently – his position was untenable. According to the press, he hired a platoon of lawyers to help him ride the current wave – three barristers and a solicitor, not from those at the bottom of the market. Well, at least I will not be called on to pick up their tab – directly; but I may be called upon indirectly, because I am now up for about $200,000 foregone since he stood down. Well, I suppose I will get more than half of that back in tax – unless of course he gets a flotilla of other lawyers to tell him how to avoid paying that tax.
It was obvious that the man had to go. But neither he nor the Minister had the decency to say so. Instead we are told that ‘we believe that it is time for a fresh start at ASIC and a fresh start will begin with the search for a new chairman.’ All this comes after an investigation, we are told, cleared Mr Shipton ‘of any wrongdoing’. So, he has done nothing wrong – but he must go.
Do these people think that we all came down in the last shower? Why has this investigation taken months? Why could it not have been concluded in twenty-four hours? It is not a question of whether Mr Shipton has broken any law or infringed any guideline. The question was whether a person who has claimed a payment for his personal benefit of more than $100,000 from public money while he was the chairman of a statutory body that regulates the conduct of business in this country could retain the confidence of the business community or the public at large. There could only ever have been one answer to that question.
This is appalling nonsense of itself. But it gets so much worse when you look at what the leader of the federal government did to Christine Holgate. She authorised payments of $20000 to executives of Australia Post as a reward for very good results. She acted within established authority within the corporation and derived no personal benefit from the transaction. She too has now been cleared of any wrongdoing (although her investigator saw fit to refer to the views of some weasel directors and used terms like ‘inappropriate’ or ‘inconsistent.’) But without hearing from her, let alone an independent investigation, the Prime Minister unleashed a posse that that predicably became a lynch mob.
And all this when all who knew what was going on at Australia Post said this woman was doing a great job.
No one said of that of Mr Shipton – not even his scripted despatcher.
If people in government behave like this, what do they expect from us?
And people who want to step outside their brief and offer gratuitous commentary of their own on a subject of their inquiry may wish to reflect on the standing of a man who may have changed the course of world history by doing just that. His name is James Comey and the beneficiary of his backhander was Donald Trump.