Former Morrison government misused $2 billion fund

In a shocking turn of events, the former Morrison government has come under intense scrutiny for its mishandling of $2 billion in health funding programs during its final four years in office. The revelation, centred around the Community Health and Hospitals program, adds to a growing list of questionable practices exhibited by the former government. The pervasive pattern of poor guidelines, politically motivated grants, and a complete disregard for genuine need has left Australians questioning the ethical standards of some of their elected officials.

The Morrison government’s legacy has increasingly become synonymous with scandal, presenting a never-ending source of ammunition for the Labor government. Every few months, new revelations of unethical and potentially illegal behaviour emerge, suggesting a systemic issue within the Morrison administration. Such developments undoubtedly provide substantial material for the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which is poised to tackle these matters head-on.

The disconcerting aspect of this situation lies not only in the scale of misspent funds but also in the government’s evident lack of concern for the wellbeing and health of the Australian population. It was apparent that as long as the money flowed to their intended recipients – political donors and business supporters of the Coalition – the government showed little regard for the broader consequences. The implications of these revelations for the public service are equally worrisome, as senior officials who should have ensured better practices now face scrutiny.

A continuing tale of funding corruption

For years, critics have branded the Liberal–National Coalition government between 2013 and 2022 as corrupt, incompetent, and unethical. The recent revelations about the misspent health funding only serve to reinforce these claims. The Australian National Audit Office, responsible for uncovering this damning information, previously investigated the ‘sports rorts’ affair in 2019 and the Leppington Triangle scandal, where exorbitant amounts were paid to a Liberal Party donor for land undervalued by millions.

It is hard to ignore the political dimensions surrounding these revelations. The timing of the release aligns neatly with the upcoming launch of the National Anti-Corruption Commission on 1 July 2023, and the impending byelection in the seat of Fadden on 15 July, caused by the resignation of former Liberal–National Party Minister Stuart Robert, who is likely to appear before the anti-corruption commission in relation to some of these matters. The Labor government will undoubtedly seize the opportunity to extract maximum damage from these revelations, potentially swaying public sentiment against the Coalition.

One particularly alarming aspect of the released information pertains to a $4 million grant awarded to the Esther Foundation. This Christian rehabilitation centre has faced numerous complaints, including allegations of sexual abuse, denial of food, restrictions on communication with friends and family, and LGBTQI suppression techniques. Indigenous residents were also subjected to demeaning beliefs that their skin colour and cultural heritage were possessed by the devil. Despite these serious concerns, the Morrison government saw fit to grant the organisation a substantial sum of taxpayer money, exposing their incompetence and misplaced priorities.

Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s assertion in 2019 that he “doesn’t invest in things that don’t work” stands in stark contradiction to the reality of his government’s actions. The allocation of $4 million to a controversial religious group exemplifies the inadequacy, incompetence, and corruption that plagued the Morrison government.

Morrison scandals still reverberate a year later

The sheer volume of scandals associated with the previous administration is overwhelming. It is no wonder that people have grown weary of these never-ending controversies. The repercussions of the Coalition’s misconduct in government continue to reverberate through Australian society, a year after their departure from office. With the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, it is anticipated that the exposure of such malpractice will persist for some time into the future.

It is vital to remember how egregiously the Morrison government treated the Australian public during its tenure. Elected officials took the citizens for granted, exploiting their trust for personal gain and, as the saying goes, ‘they took us for mugs’. The intertwining of religion with government affairs, especially when it produces dodgy and harmful practices, warrants rigorous examination, deconstruction, and eradication from public life. Those involved must be held accountable, and the affected individuals should be rehabilitated, ensuring a more functional and responsible government for the future.

While personal faith and beliefs should be respected, when they begin to encroach upon the broader society, it becomes imperative to subject them to criticism, investigation, and scrutiny when necessary.

As Australians brace themselves for further revelations and investigations, they demand a government that prioritises their wellbeing, upholds ethical standards, and restores faith in the political system. The Morrison government’s legacy of mismanagement, corruption, and incompetence should serve as a stark reminder of the importance of transparency, accountability, and integrity in public office.

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About David Lewis 11 Articles
David Lewis is co-presenter of the New Politics Australia podcast, historian, musicologist, musician and political scientist based in Sydney. His lecturing and research interests include roots music, popular music, Australian, UK and US politics and crime fiction. He has published in Music Forum Australia, Eureka Street, Quadrant, Crikey and has edited several books.