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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Laws are broken: Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor work against the law : Section 142.1/1b of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act...
Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor in the House
A little over two years ago, in the wake of an indecisive Federal Election, Prime Minister Julia Gillard secured the formal support of three independents that would allow her to form government and retain office.
To do that deal, Mr Wilkie, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor were offered priority funding allocation for their electorates in the ''regional priority'' round of the Health and Hospitals Infrastructure Program. In total, applications for projects in their electorates totalled around $450 million, which is about one third of the total funds available. There were 114 applications for funding under that scheme, and the other 111 could now only draw from whatever money was left over.
Section 142.1/1b of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act states that it is an offence for a public official to offer a benefit if “the receipt, or expectation of the receipt, of the benefit would tend to influence a public official (who may be the other person) in the exercise of the official’s duties as a public official “. The Act explicitly states that it doesn’t matter whether the person to whom the offer is made is the ultimate beneficiary.
And on the other side, Section 142.1/3b of the Act states that an offence has been committed if “the receipt, or expectation of the receipt, of the benefit would tend to influence a Commonwealth public official (who may be the first-mentioned official) in the exercise of the official’s duties as a Commonwealth public official”.
So… a leader of a political party needs the support of three independents to form government. To secure that support, she guarantees that applications for substantial grants for each of their electorates will be approved before applications from 111 others, irrespective of the merit of those other applications. They agree, and give their support.