On 29 February 2016 - almost two years ago - I wrote to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (via her senior advisor):
I refer in part to DFAT's release of documents posted on its FOI log here:
In what capacity did Bill Clinton sign the 22 February 2006 MOU with the Australian Government?
Under the heading "Australian Aid Funding to the Clinton Foundation" DFAT's briefing paper refers to a "range of measures concerning the transparency and accountability" of the Foundation, agreed to by President Clinton.
What were they?
Given that President Clinton did not become a trustee, officer or director of the Clinton Foundation until 2013 how was his "agreement" to the transparency and accountability measures operative?
I note that DFAT has donated about $36M (according to the table in your FOI release) to the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative inc.
Is DFAT satisfied that the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative Incorporated was appropriately registered by US authorities to receive donations from foreign governments for aid funding?
On 31 March 2008 the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative Inc was dissolved by regulatory authorities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (the reregistration was backdated to and operative from 31 December 2007 and became operative at that date as a result of breaches of the law by the entity). The entity wasn't merged with another, it was dissolved.
Last night I received a statement from Mr Howard Cutter of the Corporations Division, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in relation to the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative Inc (I refer to the extract from their records showing the involuntary dissolution details attached).
Mr Cutter's statement says: "The entity was dissolved by our office for failure to file annual reports in consecutive years."
DFAT and AusTender.gov.au records report that DFAT continued to purportedly deal with the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative Inc for some years after it was dissolved by the Massachusetts authorities. Does DFAT have any comment on this matter?
Michael, thanks for your query.
The following can be attributed to a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade:
“Former US President Bill Clinton signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australian Government in 2006 in his capacity as the Founder and Representative of the William J Clinton Foundation. The MOU is a non-binding cooperation agreement with the intent to fight HIV/AIDS in China, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. All funding arrangements are accompanied by specific legal funding agreements with specified outcomes, deliverables, budgets and conditions. No donations were provided to the Clinton Foundation.”
“All DFAT funding agreements are with Clinton Health Access Initiative - a separate legal entity from Clinton Foundation since 2010 – to deliver HIV/AIDS treatment to a range of Asia-Pacific countries.”
For your background, the “range of measures concerning transparency and accountability” of the Foundation mentioned in DFAT’s briefing document refers to an agreement between the Clinton Foundation and the US Government concerning Hillary Clinton’s nomination as Secretary of State. It bears no relation to the Australian Government’s funding agreements with Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Media Liaison | Media Liaison Section
Parliamentary and Media Branch | Public Diplomacy and Communications Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
That was the end of my previously good relationship with Julie Bishop.
This stuff didn't happen on Ms Bishop's watch and she could have noted there were deficiencies, we've learnt, we've fixed things up etc.
But she didn't. She went out of her way to protect the Clintons.
It was all apparently hunky dory.
Only we were lied to.
All was not hunky dory at all.
The biggest contract under the $25M MOU was the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative PNG - all up we gave the Clintons about $15M between 2006 and 2009.
The CF was supposed to "complement" our funding by making its own contribution.
We put in $15M odd cash but according to the final report,
"CF has contributed paediatric ARVs, paediatric OI drugs, commodities for the Early Infant Diagnosis Program (e.g. reagents, equipment including PCR machine) totalling US$417,622 USD as of June 2009".
That project was independently audited at a cost of about $100K - the audit report is here:
Here are some direct quotes:
assessment of value for money has not been possible due to insufficient financial information in project reporting
the inadequacy of project documentation has quite significantly affected the ability to undertake a systematic evaluation of the project.
inadequate outcome indicators against one consistent set of objectives limits the extent to which there can be an acceptable discussion about effectiveness.
The Audit noted the project had
- no statement of project goal or purpose,
- no clear Program Area objectives and
- no targets
The auditors noted:
A Funding Agreement was signed in July 2006 between the government of Australia and CHAI. This outlined the terms and conditions of the arrangement between AusAID and CHAI for the implementation of CHAI in PNG. This agreement states that “the parties agree to monitor the Program against the Program Milestones and evaluate it against the Program Outcomes.” The defining document against which this occurs is the Program Workplan 2006- 2009. As noted above there is no stated objective/outcome in this document (or any documents subsequent to this) for the whole project (and associated indicators). Outcomes or objectives for each of the AoC are not articulated (thus no indicators provided). It is therefore impossible for this part of the agreement to be adhered to.
the overarching goal/purpose/objective of the CHAI was never clearly articulated, and thus no indicators to measure its achievement have been presented in any project documentation.
In the absence of a clear statement of objectives at the overall project level, and objective statements without indicators at the Program Area level it is not possible to say with any degree of confidence whether CHAI has been effective.
I wrote to Ms Bishop's department pointing out in chapter and verse the adverse findings in the audit and other reports.
Thanks for your enquiry.
The following information is for your background.
The funding agreement for the PNG Clinton Foundation agreement 2006-2010 had specified outcomes, deliverables, budgets and conditions including the supply of audited Financial Statements. Australian Government funding was delivered as per the agreed schedule and milestones met under the terms of the agreement.
The Clinton Foundation worked in partnership with both the Australian Government and UNITAID on paediatric HIV. UNITAID assisted in the procurement of affordable paediatric medications and this program supported the services to provide these medications to children.
The Australian Government regularly reviews and evaluates the performance of aid program projects, including ongoing monitoring of programs to identify both progress against outcomes and possible areas for improvement. More information on how we manage performance is on the DFAT website.
Media Liaison Section
Parliamentary and Media Branch | Public Diplomacy & Communications Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Phone +61 2 6261 1555
Is it just me - or is there an apparent push to protect the Clintons - to the detriment of Australia's interests.
In May 2015 Bill Clinton thought of Julie Bishop as one of the Clinton Foundation's "closest supporters" - so close and so supportive he invited her to New York for the CF's annual internal planning retreat.
Clinton's personal invitation was delivered through then Ambassador Kim Beazley direct to the Foreign Minister's office.
Clinton used the formal diplomatic channel to ask our Foreign Minister to take part in the planning day with him and his top advisors/leadership team "to celebrate our shared success, reflect on recent accomplishments and engage in discussion around our priorities for the year ahead."
"We hope you'll join us to share your input and to help us shape our work for the years to come. Thank you for your continued friendship and thought leadership".
This is just over 18 months ago. The level of intimacy given recent disclosures is frightening.
Just months prior to the invitation, Bishop was in New York for the Clinton Global Initiative where she made this announcement:
Former US President Bill Clinton and I have witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing Australia and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to work together to transform access to health in developing countries over the next five years.
The MOU will support Australia’s $5 billion aid program, which encourages innovation in research and new technologies to promote sustainable economic growth and alleviate poverty. It will also build expertise and networks in facilitating public‑private partnerships, civil society, and private sector financing for health investments.
Australia has previously worked with CHAI in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Vietnam and China to build capacity in government health services and systems, improve access to life‑saving technologies and lower the costs of treatment.
The Australian Government will pursue these innovative partnerships to strengthen health systems, improve maternal and child health and tackle communicable diseases, including control of drug-resistant malaria and tuberculosis.
I have announced the establishment of a Development Innovation Hub within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which will test creative ideas and strategies to address different development challenges.
Since 2006, Australia has contributed $88 million to CHAI and its sister organisation, the Clinton Foundation.
Read more here.
And expect a lot more from me as I assemble evidence and other documents for transmission to the FBI.