Federal MP Peter Dutton Covers Up $39 Million Fraud and Theft at the Australian Border Force
By Shane Dowling
A corrupt payment of $39 million was made by the Australian Border Force to a company called Austal in 2015/2016 when federal MP Peter Dutton was in charge of Border Force. Two barristers who were meant to be investigating the matter on behalf of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) were sacked by the newly appointed commission chief, Jaala Hinchcliffe this year.
Border Force is Peter Dutton’s responsibility as he was appointed Minister for Home Affairs in December 2017 which also has oversight for Border Force. Prior to that Peter Dutton was Minister for Immigration and Border Protection from 23/12/2014 to 28/8/2018 which covers the period when the $39 million fraud and theft took place.
And as we all know Peter Dutton rules his department with an iron fist so the $39 million would not have been paid without his approval. Yet his name hasn’t, at this point, been mentioned in reports on the scandal so maybe we should start calling him Teflon Pete or Majic Pete.
The SMH reported on Wednesday (21/10/20):
The investigation is looking into why the Australian Border Force, in late 2015 and early 2016, disregarded internal advice that it should not pay Austal part of a $44.6 million success fee for delivering patrol boats used to target people and contraband smugglers and illegal fishing.
The fee was meant to be paid only if Austal met key milestones to deliver eight problem-free patrol boats. The boats were delivered but the Border Force advice stated the ASX200 company had failed to reach the milestones because the boats were plagued with problems.
However, after intense lobbying by Austal, Border Force paid out $39 million, with the first $31 million handed over two days before Christmas in 2015. A further $8 million was paid in June 2016, according to Border Force records.
In the 2015-16 year, donations records reveal Austal donated $60,000 to the Liberal Party, including $20,000 to the party’s West Australian branch. It donated $1500 that same year to the ALP.
The cover-up by Majic Pete who can make any corruption disappear
The SMH reported on Thursday (22/10/20):
The chief of Australia’s national anti-corruption commission rejected advice from external barristers that her agency should hold private coercive hearings as part of its investigation into suspected corruption in the Australian Border Force.
Instead, Jaala Hinchcliffe, head of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, sacked the barrister who made the recommendation and ignored his memo laying out a plan to interrogate officials suspected of making tens of millions of dollars in corrupt payments.
As well as removing Mr Hyde and Ms Tang in April, Ms Hinchcliffe also scrapped Mr Griffin’s planned public coercive hearings into corruption allegations surrounding gaming giant Crown Resorts. She removed Sydney barrister David McLure, SC, and his colleague Shipra Chordia as counsel assisting that inquiry, and instead released a limited report. That found Home Affairs gave preferential visa treatment to Crown Resorts’ high-roller gamblers, including people who had initially been refused entry on character grounds, but it made no finding of corruption.
The Crown Resorts investigation would have been, at the very least, embarrassing for Peter Dutton and it was also scrapped by Ms Hinchcliffe which means she has saved Peter Dutton twice. Why?
Jaala Hinchcliffe was appointed Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) in February by Attorney-General Christian Porter. The ACLEI is meant to investigate corruption in the federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Police and Border Force. But it looks like Ms Hinchcliffe is a patsy for the Liberal Party covering-up government corruption.
Senator Rex Patrick questioned Ms Hinchcliffe at a Senate Inquiry on Thursday which got fiery:
The MSH reported (22/10/20):
“the corruption investigation into the two payments totalling $39 million had been scaled back, including scrapping hearings and standing down counsel assisting, Jonathan Hyde and Dianna Tang.”
Ms Hinchcliffe, who became head of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity in February, said she was briefed on the legal team’s strategy but a “divergence of views” over the use of further private hearings resulted in counsel leaving the case.
Senator Patrick listed Mr Hyde’s qualifications and said this disagreement “raises concerns in my mind” before alleging that Ms Hinchliffe was influenced by politicians to wind back the investigation.
“I want to be really fair to you, that this has been put to me that someone has leant on you, someone’s put pressure on you and there are so many senior people involved in this that you simply don’t want to go there,” Senator Patrick said.
These comments prompted backlash, including from deputy chair Senator Amanda Stoker who labelled it “slander” and “defamatory”.
Given that Peter Dutton has the most to lose it would be almost certain he has leant on Jaala Hinchcliffe to cover it up.
The SMH did some great reporting and the links above to the full stories are well worth clicking on but the elephant in the room is that they don’t mention Peter Dutton who was in charge of Border Force in 2015 and 2016 when the corrupt $39 million payment was made. He is now the Minister for Home Affairs which has become a super ministry and now also has responsibility for Border Force.
Peter Dutton’s fingers are in numerous suspicious government spending scandals. Peter Dutton and his wife have made $millions from childcare businesses and property.
In 2018 it was reported:
Mrs Dutton, 44, owns and runs the Camelia Avenue Childcare Centre and Bald Hills Childcare Centre in Brisbane’s north-west. Both are owned by RHT Family Trust, of which the family are all beneficiaries, according to ASIC documents.
The Government’s childcare reforms came into effect on July 2, meaning centres receive Commonwealth subsidies, which are passed on to parents.
This could mean Mr Dutton has a “direct or indirect pecuniary interest with the Public Service of the Commonwealth”, meaning a disqualification from Parliament.
On Wednesday (21/10/20) A Current Affair broadcast another story on childcare fraud by dodgy operators which are costing Australia tens of millions of dollars every year if not more. The NSW “Police Minister David Elliott said the Federal Government needed to look at how auditing was done as a result of crime syndicates ripping off the system. “Clearly the auditing has let the situation continue,” he said.”
But the federal government refuses to fix the problem and allows the fraud and theft of taxpayer’s money in the childcare industry to flourish. Which raises questions such as how much exactly do Peter Dutton and his wife profit from their childcare centres, are they audited and does Peter Dutton continue to be part of the government decision making process when it comes to childcare centres?
But back to the $39 million fraud at Australia Border Force which has been overseen by Peter Dutton since 2014. It is time for Peter Dutton to make a statement saying what he knew and when about the fraud and theft and what action has he taken to get the $39 million back. I suspect he has taken no action and if that is the case, why? And why did he cover it up for years?
Above are more examples of why the federal government has refused to introduce to parliament the draft legislation for a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) that they have secretly had since December 2019 which was exposed this week. They know a truly independent Federal ICAC would put some of them in jail.
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