Senator Concetta FIERRAVANTI-WELLS on the 'putrid corruption of the NSW Liberal Party.
Wednesday, 30 March 2022
All of the usual suspects - Turnbull, Kean, Morrison et al exposed in exquisite, vengeful detail.
Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South Wales) (21:20): Given the events and outcomes of the dodgy preselection where I lost by a handful of votes last Saturday, my time in this place will finish on 30 June 2022. Accordingly, there are a few matters I wish to place on the record before my departure. Many in this place would be aware of the history I have had with Scott Morrison. Let me give some clarity and context to that history so there can be no misunderstanding.
In order to understand the man it is best to look at his past actions. While professing to be a man of faith and claiming Centre Right status Morrison is a product of the Left, having worked for Bruce Baird. He is adept at running with the foxes and hunting with the hounds, lacking a moral compass and having no conscience. His actions conflict with his portrayal as a man of faith. He has used his so-called faith as a marketing advantage. We learnt the leader of his Hillsong Church group, Brian Houston, was a mentor to Morrison. Houston recently stood down as head of Hillsong because he was charged with sexual offences. It is noteworthy that, in the past, Houston flew top cover for his paedophile father.
When Morrison worked for Tourism Australia he backstabbed his minister Fran Bailey. Eventually he was fired from the position. As state director of the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party Morrison honed his manipulative skills when overseeing the Wentworth preselection to unseat Peter King. About 120 membership applications were rejected to help Turnbull get selected, the person Morrison ultimately backstabbed.
Morrison might profess to be Christian, but there was nothing Christian about what was done to Michael Towke. When Morrison made his run for the seat of Cook there were several hopefuls, including Towke, Fletcher and Coleman. Towke won the ballot in the first round with 84 votes. Morrison got eight votes. Having lost the ballot Morrison and his cronies went to Sam Dastyari to get dirt on Towke, who had been in the Labor Party for a period of time whilst at university. This dossier of anecdotes was weaponised and leaked to the media to the point where Towke's reputation was destroyed. I am advised that there are several statutory declarations to attest to racial comments made by Morrison at the time that we can't have a Lebanese person in Cook. The state executive voted 12 to 11 not to endorse Towke and ordered a modified selection process. The only way that Towke could get political exoneration for a future run was to agree to put his numbers behind Morrison. Morrison met with David Clarke and I and promised various things. Of course he took our votes and never delivered.
After the selection Towke joined my staff. He subsequently sued the newspapers for defamation. He won his cases but this was cold comfort. Morrison, his cronies and the Liberal establishment in New South Wales had destroyed a good, young man. I regret the day that Clarke and I agreed to put Morrison into Cook. Since then Morrison has never faced a preselection. Hence the trampling of members' rights in New South Wales. Denying them proper preselections and installing captain's picks is classic Morrison.
He and his consigliore, Alex Hawke, have deliberately contrived a crisis in New South Wales through a year of delays in not having selections. Hawke, as his representative on state executive for months and months, failed to attend nomination review committee meetings to review candidates, thereby holding up preselections. Spurious arguments were mounted to justify the unjustifiable. The constitution was trashed. There is a putrid stench of corruption emanating from the New South Wales Division of the Liberal Party.
All of this was under the eye of Philip Ruddock. As a former Attorney-General I am appalled that he has allowed Morrison to bully his way to a situation where the next election has been put at risk all to save Hawke's career. This is what it's all about. Hawke knows that, if he faces a plebiscite preselection, he will lose. Morrison has railroaded federal executive into setting up not only a committee which endorsed Hawke, Ley and Zimmerman but a second committee which is now endorsing captain's picks in seats like Parramatta and Hughes, which were scheduled for preselections this week.
So what is the hold that Hawke has over Morrison? Good question, especially given Hawke's own corrupt antics in New South Wales. During a speech advocating for a federal integrity commission I referred to Hawke's activities and the dealings of the Baulkham Hills branch. At a meeting in 2018, 10 members were admitted to the branch. This was confirmed in text messages from the branch secretary. Hawke was present at the meeting. He saw what went on. I'm told there is video evidence of the meeting. I also have relevant documents, including correspondence sent to Morrison on the issue.
After the meeting the minutes were falsified to show that the 10 members were not accepted. Statutory declarations were provided to counter this falsity. The branch was eventually suspended by state executive. The branch president and secretary, both acolytes of Hawke, refused to provide statutory declarations. Despite clear evidence of fraud, Hawke's role in this process has never been fully disclosed. The New South Wales state director has sat on this matter for years. Legal proceedings are now on foot, and I look forward to the day when Hawke will be required to give evidence under oath to explain his corrupt conduct.
There is a very appropriate saying here: the fish stinks from the head. Morrison and Hawke have ruined the Liberal Party in New South Wales by trampling its constitution. Indeed, I understand at a federal executive meeting Morrison was asked whether he was running a protection racket in New South Wales.
In recent months I have kept members of the division updated. I have received hundreds, if not thousands, of emails outlining their disgust. They have lost faith in the party. They want to leave. They don't like Morrison and they don't trust him. They continue to despair at our prospects at the next federal election, and they blame Morrison for this. Our members do not want to help in the upcoming election. By now you might be getting the picture that Morrison is not interested in rules based order. It is his way or the highway—an autocrat and a bully who has no moral compass.
Now to my own situation. Having lost by a handful of votes last Saturday and having analysed the data, I know the numbers tell their own story. Clearly, my push for democracy in the New South Wales division was certainly not welcome. This would mean that the factional operatives can't control preselections. For years, figures in the Liberal Party have denied the existence of factions and criticised the ALP. This is hypocrisy, given that the Liberal Party is now no different to the Labor Party.
In addition, having been a critic of Morrison on a range of policy matters, I was a marked woman. I have known for a number of years of the machinations involving the PMO and others to move me on. Recent media reports confirmed a deal agreed to by Hawke, Yaron Finkelstein from the PMO, Charles Perrottet, Dallas McInerney, Trent Zimmerman and Matt Kean. In my case, Dallas McInerney from Catholic Schools NSW was encouraged to run against me. Realising he did not have support from the conservative base to win a preselection, they resorted to getting Jim Molan to run, despite Molan having promised he would only see out the Sinodinos term.
In my case, Wade McInerney, brother of Dallas, worked in my office for five years. Following his departure to work for Robert Assaf at Greyhound Racing NSW, I discovered he was engaged in inappropriate conduct and activities. I was duty-bound to refer him to the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Finance and the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency.
Having engaged lawyers and fought hard for a preselection, I got it because my enemies realised my strong support from delegates meant plan B had to be implemented. Dom Perrottet's premiership is held together by a thread through a so-called unity deal with the Kean-Poulos Left. For years the Perrottets have railed against Hawke, threatening to prosecute the Baulkham Hills matter but never delivering. The Perrottets, the McInerneys, Assaf et cetera had only about 30 votes between them. In the ultimate act of treachery those numbers were press-ganged into voting for Hawke's candidate, Molan. Why? In short, the so-called conservative Premier aligned with his so-called enemy Hawke to do a deal: Morrison gets his captain's picks in federal seats and no state members jump ship to the federal arena, which would in turn have crippled the premiership of a supine and weak state leader.
In my public life I have met ruthless people. Morrison tops the list, followed closely by Hawke. Morrison is not fit to be Prime Minister and Hawke certainly is not fit to be a minister.
Budget Australian Greens
Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (21:29): Holy smokes! I'm happy to offer another five minutes to Senator Fierravanti-Wells if she'd like to continue.