Foundation series

what now for Governor General David Hurley?

So what about the Governor General now that the Albanian government has given up funding to his favorite charity?

The Australian Future Leaders Foundation (AFLF) may have been well-intentioned – aiming to create a network for young, high-achieving Australians – but it smacks of monarchy. There is ample evidence that the foundation, proposed by people connected to the royal family and promoted by the Queen’s representative in Australia, received special treatment from Scott Morrison, whose government was prepared to support it with 18 million dollars. dollars and special tax status.

The idea was still out of step with Australia in 2022. For months, the funding decision sat there as another example of Morrison’s trademark abuse of process. But everything changed with the revelations about Morrison’s secret ministries, signed by Governor General David Hurley. This gave the impression that the Prime Minister and the Governor General were giving each other special treatment. (The GG office strongly denied the allegation.)

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The grant is gone, but we are left with a host of serious unresolved questions – not only for the outgoing Governor General, but also for his office.

These are the connections, man

AFLF supporters were able to gain the kind of access to the Governor General’s office that other charities would kill for. The file shows that there were a dozen meetings between the office of the GG and the executive director of the foundation, the Englishman Chris Hartley. This then resulted in access to the Prime Minister’s Office as the Prime Minister’s Department and Cabinet took over Hartley’s royal idea with taxpayers’ money.

Conflicts of interest

As Crikey reported earlier this week, the Governor General was finally able to enact two legislative amendments that had been passed specifically to benefit the AFLF. One was to allow payment of $18 million (with one more guarantee) and the other was for the coveted tax-deductible gift recipient status.

These conflicts are distinct from the perceived conflict of Scott Morrison, the prime minister at the time, overseeing the funding of a charity promoted by the Governor General. Legislation authorizing the foundation’s multi-million dollar, multi-year funding describes it as “an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Department and the Cabinet in consultation with the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General”, a description that places it dangerously close to be a joint venture.

Doesn’t this compromise, in theory, the independence of the GG office?

Really, what are the links?

Citizen reporters who go by the names Ronni Salt and Jommy Tee on Twitter have produced extensive research showing a series of interactions between Chris Hartley and Governor General David Hurley, suggesting their relationship is more than described during the government’s estimates hearings. Senate earlier this year. This may or may not be the case, but it calls for an answer.

There are also ties between Chris Hartley LVO and Secretary to the Governor General, Paul Singer MVO.

Singer is a former Royal Australian Navy officer. Relevant to this saga, Singer is an alumnus of CSCLeaders, a program for Commonwealth leaders. Chris Hartley is listed as a Non-Executive Alumni Director of CSC Global.

Singer was made a member of the Royal Victorian Order, a royal honor bestowed upon him in 2016. Hartley received his royal honor in 2000.

An office beleaguered by politics

The actions of the Governor General and his office may not be illegal, but they are frowned upon.

On another level, the foundation saga also represents another chapter in the former coalition government’s attacks on the integrity of government institutions. The Coalition destroyed the independence of the AAT by stacking it with political friends. He regularly appointed political friends to boards and agencies.

When it comes to the Governor-General, the Coalition has relentlessly used the Order of Australia awards to stack the awards corps and reward their political friends with honours, stamped by the GG. In the end, Scott Morrison felt it was perfectly fine to use the office of the GG to empower himself more and more, without even bothering to appear before the Governor General in person, either he became disdainful.

Solicitor General Stephen Donaghue concluded that Morrison’s actions with the GG were legal but violated “the principle of responsible government”.

There are calls for the governor general to resign or explain himself more fully.

At the very least, the net result is that the Governor General’s office has been tarnished by his dealings with Morrison. It’s an open question if the holder can fix it, having failed to face him.

Crikey is short story for readers who can handle the truth.

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Pierre Fray

Pierre Fray
Chief Editor