Saturday, September 3, 2016

Political Donations: The View from Murdoch

The rag you'd least expect to focus on the subject of foreign policy donations, given its slavish devotion to, and promotion of, all things Israel, is Murdoch's Australian.

And yet yesterday's issue has devoted almost a (broadsheet) page-and-a-half to the matter!

Sam Dastyari, of course, gets special treatment, referred to as a 'Manchurian candidate', and there are dark warnings by the outgoing US ambassador John Berry about the influence of 'soft power' by non-democratic countries. (Sam mired by soft power's hard sell, Anthony Klan & Sarah Martin)

There's also a profile of The Mysterious Dr Fu Manchu Minshen Zhu, Dastyari's benefactor, and a report, Junkets searching for a cause, in which we have to wait until the final paragraph for a mention of trips by politicians to Israel.

The centrepiece of the Australian's coverage, however, is an alphabetical list of "House of Representatives MPs' sponsored travel. Top five most-visited countries," with ISRAEL, not China, in first place with 24 visits. (China comes in second with 20 visits.)

According to the list the following 22 politicians have been to Israel, some more than once: John Alexander (L/NP); Sharon Bird (ALP); Bronwyn Bishop (L/NP); Gai Brodtmann (ALP) (x2); Mal Brough (L/NP); Terri Butler (ALP); Jim Chalmers (ALP); Michael Danby (ALP); Peter Hendy (L/NP); Stephen Jones (ALP); Craig Kelly (L/NP); Andrew Leigh (ALP); Russell Matheson (L/NP); Rob Mitchell (ALP); Christopher Pyne (L/NP); Wyatt Roy (L/NP) (x2); Andrew Southcott (L/NP); Tim Watts (ALP) (x2); Ken Wyatt (L/NP).

The list, however, is far from complete. MPs Bruce Bilson, Nick Champion, David Feeney, Joel Fitzgibbon, Richard Marles, Kelly O'Dwyer, Tanya Plibersek, Bernie Ripoli, Bill Shorten, Luke Simpkins and Dan Tehan are listed as junketeers but no mention is made of their trips to Israel.

Add those 11 to the Australian's 22, and the total of MPs who have been to Israel rises to 35.

Curiously, the following 25 MPs who have also been to Israel since 2007 are missing from the list: Penny Wong, Josh Frydenberg, Amanda Rishworth, Belinda Neal, Stuart Robert, Alex Hawke, Mathias Cormann, Kevin Rudd, Kim Carr, Stephen Conroy, Anthony Byrne, Mike Kelly, Julie Bishop, Kevin Andrews, Steve Ciobo, Julia Gillard, Peter Costello, Mark Dreyfus, Tony Abbott, Jacinta Collins, Jason Clare, Peter Dutton, Michael Keenan, and Shayne Neuman. Add them in and our total is now 59. (Note that senators and state politicians have been omitted.)

That's 59 visits to Israel and a mere 20 to China! Israel wins, hands down.

(See my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too for a fuller, regularly updated, list of Israel junkets by Australian politicians, journalists and other useful fools.)

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