I had a most encouraging call with a US colleague during the past week or so.
The Clinton Foundation frauds are being investigated in a significant donor country - sadly not ours.
On 15 November the Clintons face a tax filing deadline in the US.
On my read, for the Clintons to file a truthful return as required by US law each of their previous returns dating back to 1997 will need to be amended and refiled. Two days to go.
In the meantime Saturday Night Live from New York has taken to parodying Hillary and the "new" democrats. That has to be a very good omen! Enjoy - unless you're Kevin, Julia, Julie, Alexander or Malcolm.
These photos were colourised and published for the first time this year for Remembrance Day.
New Zealand troops.
Not hard to see the joy!
A 75 metre shell crater in Ypres.
Nuns, part of an order of nurses tending to graves.
And finally today, here's my granddad Percy Leo Smith and his brothers Leslie John and Gerald Peter Smith in a photo taken around 99 years, 11 months ago in London.
The boys somehow managed to get leave in the Christmas of 1917 an they met up in London - grandad and Les from the 3rd Division on the Western Front in France, and Gerald from HMAS Warrego based at Brindisi in Italy.
Gerald Patrick Smith left home in late 1911 to go to sea on the Royal Australian Navy's first day of service.
The King had just approved formation of the RAN and Gerald was one of its first members.
When war broke out, Gerald had already been to England to sail back on the pride of the fleet, HMAS Australia.
Grerard Patrick was one of the first Australians to see action in The Great War.
He was in the landing party that secured German Rabaul New Guinea.
The elder Smith boy Leslie John was a famous musician and the manager of Stanley MacKay's Royal Pantomime Company. He was constantly on tour with glamorous stars throughout Australia and New Zealand.
119 Leslie John Smith went straight into action as a machine gunner on The Somme.
That's him on great grandma's Catherine's lap with great grandpa the stern school teacher watching over them.
My grandpa Percy Leo Smith was a telegraph operator at the Melbourne GPO.
Les, Percy and Gerald were solid Irish Catholic working class boys.
Waltter Geappen (my grandma's father) was a 3rd generation protestant Australian. His boys signed up too, as you'd expect of the sons of the Victorian Government Printer and Grand Master of Melbourne's Masonic Lodge. Here are the Geappen boys with my grandmother Myrene just before the war.
20 year old blacksmith Les was always going to be a Sapper!
But Les hadn't attained his majority..
Les was an Australian Native just like me.
My grandfather Percy Leo Smith was first allocated to the 7th Battalion. He first served in Cairo Egypt.
When Les went into action on The Somme, Percy transferred to the 3rd Division to be near him.
In December 1916 Les copped a shocking whack - the gunshot wound penetrating his face and eye.
This photo was taken a year later, even in the grainy sepia wash you can see the damage.
Les was a fighter. After he came out of hospital in London he was sent to the machine gun training school at Grantham as a Sergeant Instructor where he spent the remainder of 1917.
Gerald was by then on HMAS Warrego sailing out of Brindisi, Italy hunting subs and enemy ships in the Mediterranean. When Les suggested the boys get together over Christmas 1917 Gerald was on to it like a shot! Somehow he got leave and made his way from Brindisi to London via the Channel - 2,200 kilometres during the war! Not a bad effort.
And so the Smith boys were together again for one final Christmas in London, December, 1917.
Their priority mission was to get the photo to send back home to their mum Catherine in Richmond.
Imagine her excitement going to the letter box in Sherwood Street Richmond with the two girls to see her 3 boys together!
Here's Catherine with the two girls after the war - granddad has written "my best pals" on the top of the photo.
I hope that Percy, Leo and Gerald had the best of times in London and partied like it was their last Christmas together on earth. Because it was.
Les had been seriously wounded. He had a good job in England training machine gunners. He was part of the war effort. But his loyalty lay with his mates and brother.
On 10 March 1918 he rejoined the 10th Machine Gun Company on the Somme.
On 30 March 1918 my grandfather saw his brother Les shot and killed in action at Dernancourt, The Somme.
There wasn't much to send home.
His effects were boxed and placed on the Barunga, formerly the German liner Sumatra which was captured by the Royal Australian Navy in Sydney Harbour at the start of the war. Gerald Smith was there when she was captured and put into service for Australia.
He was also there on the Mediterranean Sea when a German submarine torpedoed her and sent the ship and his brothers earthly effects to the bottom of the sea.
I wonder if Catherine knew the little trinkets left to her by her son were on Barunga when she read about her sinking?
There was no homecoming for the dead in World War One.
Grieving mothers were asked to pay for a copy of the gazette entry recording the headstone details of their dead boys.
But a mother's love for her son never dies.
When the Australian men came home the official historian Charles Bean's first order of duty was to oversee the creation of an Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Today, new generations of Smiths can see the name of 119 Smith, Leslie John in bronze on the Roll of Honour.
A few years after the war, Catherine Smith received a polite note from the official historian asking for details about Les.
I can imagine her tears as she wrote about the lad who won the Royal South Street Open Violin solo - at the age of 17! And the memories of treasured letters from his tours of the major provincial centres of Australia and both islands of New Zealand with the pantomime company.
CDC: People With Dirt On Clintons Have 843% Greater Risk Of Suicide
ATLANTA, GA – According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control released on Thursday, people with inside, compromising knowledge of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s financial and political dealings are 843% more likely to commit suicide.
“We’ve never seen a single risk factor cause a spike of this magnitude,” a CDC spokesperson told reporters. “Interestingly, in spite of their increased suicide risk, people with dirt on the Clintons rarely show any warning signs of suicide, and they never leave a suicide note.”
Remarking about how abnormal it is, the spokesman again stressed the significance of the data.
“Therefore, we advise any American with detrimental information about Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, or the Clinton Foundation to forget about it as quickly as possible to avoid a greatly increased probability of taking your own life,” he cautioned.
“And—I swear—that’s all we know.”
PS - UPDATE - someone sent me this on Facebook. So it must be authentic. Right?
Nestled among the hundreds of thousands of pages slowly drowning me is the original certificate of incorporation for Thiess Contractors Pty Ltd.
Our criminal law provides that a corporation can be a victim of crime. Like its employees, the entity can also be a criminal defendant or perpetrator.
For the police to prove either, they must show the court that the corporate entity has attained an incorporated personality.
Sir Leslie Colin Thiess's baby - Thiess Contractors Pty Ltd - acquired its corporate personality in 1981 from a shelf company called Cometvale.
Space.com tells us this about comets:
Comets: Facts About The 'Dirty Snowballs' of Space
By Charles Q. Choi, Space.com Contributor |
Comets are icy bodies in space that release gas or dust. They are often compared to dirty snowballs, though recent research has led some scientists to call them snowy dirtballs. Comets contain dust, ice, carbon dioxide, ammonia, methane and more. Astronomers think comets are leftovers from the material that initially formed the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
Wikipedia adds to the metaphor for the slimeballs at Thiess.
A comet is an icy small Solar System body that, when passing close to the Sun, warms and begins to release gases, a process called outgassing. This produces a visible atmosphere or coma, and sometimes also a tail.
Thiess, the icy small body that when exposed to the Sun releases gas - it sometimes has a tail and is often in a coma, particularly when it comes to corruption.
This is an extract from the Australian Dictionary of Biographies curated by the Australian National University for Sir Leslie Colin Thiess.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy’s devastation of Darwin in December 1974, next month the Whitlam Federal government appointed Thiess as chairman of the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. Controversy quickly arose over the question of Thiess Bros’ tendering for contracts. Thiess found it intolerable that his firm might be denied work as a result of a perceived conflict of interest on his part, and he resigned in March. In the 1970s he appeared to be winding down his business involvement. He relinquished office as managing director of Thiess Toyota in 1976, and as chairman of Thiess Bros in 1978. His career seemed to be over when CSR Ltd succeeded in a hostile takeover, gaining a majority of shares in Thiess Holdings in 1979. Although Leslie remained on the board, the other former directors retired. He was not finished as an entrepreneur, however. His family company, Drayton Investments Pty Ltd, joined with Westfield Ltd and Hochtief AG to buy back the construction division of Thiess Holdings from CSR.
At the age of seventy-two Thiess formed with BP Australia Ltd and Westfield Ltd a consortium which, in 1981, beat thirty-one other tenderers to develop a new central Queensland coalfield, Winchester South. Opponents of the Queensland government questioned the propriety of the tender process as the Thiess group's proposal was not the most financially advantageous to the State. A Labor politician, R. J. Gibbs, alleged in State parliament that Jack Woods, the director-general of mines, had holidayed at Thiess's beach house shortly before the tenders were considered. In another business combination, the Thiess Watkins Group, Thiess won the licence for a casino in Townsville, and his tenders were accepted for a number of government constructions, including prisons and the project management of the 'Expo ’88’ site in Brisbane.
There was a hint of personal scandal in 1982 when a Labor front-bencher, Kevin Hooper, linked Thiess’s name in parliament with a paternity case brought by a Qantas hostess. His name arose again in Tony Fitzgerald’s (1987–89) commission of inquiry into corruption. Among his findings, Fitzgerald determined that Thiess had made dubious gifts to a government minister, Russell Hinze, taking the form of unsecured loans from Thiess subsidiary companies. Much worse followed in August 1989, when the journalist Jana Wendt broke a story on Channel 9's A Current Affair alleging that Thiess had bribed Premier (Sir) Joh Bjelke-Petersen, an old friend and business acquaintance, to gain the controversial Winchester South project, the Expo ’88 deal, and other contracts.
Unwisely, Thiess sued Channel 9, Wendt, and a former Thiess Watkins employee, Ron Woodham, for defamation. The court case from January to April 1991 aired his business and political dealings over many years. A pantheon of leading Australians, Gough Whitlam among them, gave him character references. The jury found that he had been defamed, and awarded him a pyrrhic $55,050 in damages, but concluded that thirteen out of twenty-one claims in the Channel 9 story were true. Not only had Thiess bribed Bjelke-Petersen with gifts—including an aircraft hangar and equipment repairs—worth nearly $1 million to secure government contracts, but he had also defrauded a Japanese business partner, Kumagai Gumi, and other shareholders in his companies.
With that judgment Thiess 'lost the good name he had built over a lifetime of achievement’ (Walker 1991, 5). He insisted he had done nothing corrupt, believing that his gifts had been within the norms of rural business mateship from an earlier era. Even more unwisely, he appealed to the Full Court, which in 1992 dismissed his appeal and awarded most of the costs against him. In poor health, he withdrew completely from public life.
Thiess’s entrepreneurship had brought him enormous wealth and influence. He built his empire on a personal combination of business acumen, energy, austerity, self-sufficiency, and family solidarity, qualities evident from his teenage years. He gained many clients through his reputation for economy and reliability: consistently undercutting his competitors' prices but finishing projects on time. All his business activities were underpinned by his capacity for grasping the potential of new technologies, which kept his companies at the forefront of the civil engineering, construction, and mining industries for fifty years. By the time his business affairs came under scrutiny in 1981, it is evident that he had established a pattern of regularly obtaining Queensland government contracts through his closeness to politicians and officials, and sometimes by means of inducements.
And, lest Sir Colin's rest is disturbed by the idea that his successors had lost the touch, here are some reassuring recent references.
Jul 15, 2015 - ... a year for the AWU courtesy of Nick Jukes "the embodiment of the Thiess culture" ... Once Thiess had obtained the contract to construct the Dawesville ... the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption?
It's now 2 years since the Trade Union Royal Commission abruptly released a media statement (prior to final submissions and almost two months prior to the Commissioner's final report) "clearing" Bill Shorten of criminal conduct.
The apparent about face came six weeks into the Turnbull administration.
On 3 September 2017, more than two months ago I wrote to Turnbull's FOI officer.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you for considering this request under the Freedom of Information Act, 1982.
I seek all communications involving the Prime Minister or staff with or about the Trade Union Royal Commission from 14 September 2015 until 6 November 2015.
For the avoidance of doubt, I include records (including telephone call data and text messages) involving Jeremy Stoljar SC, William (Bill) Steenson or Commissioner John Dyson Heydon AC QC.
The FOI office had 30 days to reply.
On 23 October I received this note (Turnbull took office on 15 September 2015)
Afternoon Mr Smith
Thank you for your email. To assist with the processing of this matter could you please provide some additional information.
The timeframe of your request covers both the office of the former Prime Minister Mr Abbott and the current Prime Minister Mr Turnbull. Could you please confirm if it’s your intention for the request to cover both Prime Ministers?
Your requests reference staff—to ensure clarity can you please confirm if this is staff of the relevant Prime Minister’s Office?
Should you wish to discuss please don’t hesitate to contact on the below number.
Access and Administrative Review Section | Honours and Legal Policy Branch
Government Division | Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
I made clear it was the Turnbull administration.
Last night, 8 November 2017 I received this.
Dear Mr Smith
Thank you for your email dated 27 October 2017 in which you confirmed the scope of your request to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (the Department) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) in the following terms:
I seek all communications involving Prime Minister Turnbull or his staff with or about the Trade Union Royal Commission from 15 September 2015 until 6 November 2015.
Timeframe for receiving your decision
We received your initial FOI request by email on 3 September 2017 and the 30 day statutory period for processing your request commenced from the day after that date. We were therefore required to provide with you a decision on your request by 3 October 2017. We apologise for the delay and will finalise your FOI request as soon as possible. In the circumstances, we may seek an extension of time from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
For documents that fall within scope of the request, it is the Department’s policy to withhold:
any person’s signature;
the names and contact details of Australian Public Service officers not in the Senior Executive Service (SES);
the mobile or direct numbers of SES officers;
the names and contact details of Ministerial staff at a level below Chief of Staff.
The names and other details of SES officers will not be withheld unless there is some reason for that information to be exempt from release. If you require signatures, the names and contact details of non-SES officers or Ministerial staff below the level of Chief of Staff, or the mobile or direct numbers of SES officers please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org so the decision-maker may consider; otherwise we will take it that you agree to that information being excluded from the scope of your request (that is, the information will be treated as irrelevant and redacted from any documents for release).
In very brief overview, counsel assisting have submitted that the Commissioner should find that a number of officials of the AWU and the AWU itself may have engaged in criminal conduct in relation to the falsification of invoices and the taking of commissions.
It is further submitted that a number of persons employed by major employers and employers themselves may have engaged in similar criminal conduct, by receiving and paying bogus invoices and paying commissions (see e.g. Chapter 3 – Thiess John Holland, paragraph 213; Chapter 5 – ACI, paragraph 118; Chapter 6 – Chiquita Mushrooms paragraph 85; Chapter 8 – Winslow Constructors, paragraph 44).
Counsel assisting have submitted further that a number of officials of the AWU may have engaged in conduct in conflict of interest by causing the union to enter into lucrative side deals that were not disclosed to the members.
There is no submission that Mr Bill Shorten may have engaged in any criminal or unlawful conduct.
This non-submission on Shorten was in stark contrast to the evidence elicited during his excoriating appearance in the witness box - recall this exchange:
We will soon know if there's any record of Turnbull or his people communicating with the TURC prior to its about face.
Here are some of our articles following Shorten's appearance.
In Part One we published Joanne Painter's story in The Age which described Darrouzet's attempt to conceal his company's payments to the AWU Workplace Reform Association. Darrouzet told CFMEU national secretary that Thiess had made only one payment to the AWU - and that was for a study into the use of asbestos contaminated soil.