David Littleproud
David Littleproud (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

For an outfit mired in sleaze and corruption like the Morrison government, the scandals are usually about the wasting of taxpayer money or a minister trying to look after their own and their family’s commercial interests.

But the corruption at the heart of this government now threatens something much worse: the stability of the financial system.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that this comes from the National Party, the great rorters and grifters of Australian politics, who also have an eye for wild statements about the financial system.

After all, it was Barnaby Joyce, during his brief but hilarious stint as the Coalition’s finance spokesman, who claimed that Australia might default because of Labor’s deficits. At that stage, our net debt was around $45 billion. Now it’s heading for $700 billion this year, but strangely Barnaby hasn’t renewed his warning that the bailiffs are about to come knocking.

Yesterday, in response to ANZ’s announcement of an investment policy focus on transition to renewables, including a move away from coal by 2030, Agriculture Minister David “live export” Littleproud declared “the Nationals will review every policy lever at the federal government’s disposal — including the availability of deposit guarantees — to protect Australian farmers from these sorts of arbitrary boardroom ideological agendas.”

Littleproud spent 17 years with the ANZ’s Melbourne rival, the National Australia Bank.

This wasn’t Barnaby talking in opposition, as in 2010. This was a senior Nationals minister warning that banks that didn’t toe the Coalition’s climate denialist line faced an unlimited regulatory threat and could be abandoned by the government in the (unlikely) event they got into trouble.

Australia guarantees deposits in authorised deposit-taking institutions up to $250,000. Is the man who can’t control the abuse of animals in the live sheep and cattle trades now claiming to be able to tell the Reserve Bank, APRA and Treasury what to do when it comes to the stability of the financial system?

There was silence in response to Littleproud’s threat from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, so we have to assume Littleproud wasn’t speaking out of turn but reflects that the government’s policy is now to threaten the foundations of Australia’s financial system as part of its lunatic war against science and coming generations.

What’s this got to do with the corruption that runs sewer-like through this government?

As we pointed out earlier this week, Mark Vaile, the former Nationals leader and chair of ailing Whitehaven Coal, demanded that the government force banks to invest in coal mining, specifically by using taxpayer guarantees. Whitehaven is a large political donor, exclusively to the Coalition — just under $125,000 between 2013 and 2019.

Now Littleproud is doing exactly what Vaile asked for. For donors and Nationals mates, ask, and you shall receive. As it turns out, 120 grand and change can buy you the destabilisation of the entire financial system.

And just to illustrate that the Coalition isn’t the only side of politics corrupted by its donors, Labor is endorsing the government’s economically and scientifically illiterate embrace of gas at the behest of opponents of climate action in the CFMEU’s mining and energy division and the right-aligned Australian Workers’ Union. Australia now has bipartisan stupidity for an energy policy.

Amazing what a toxic mix of climate denialism and corruption can do.

What do you make of Littleproud’s comments? Let us know your thoughts by writing to [email protected]. Please include your full name to be considered for publication in Crikey’s Your Say column.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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