It’s the story of a story that no one else seems to consider a story.
When the story is about the Governor General’s rather odd support of an $18 million charity, on the heels of the Governor General’s rather odd silence at the time of Scott Morrison’s rather odd collection of secret ministerial jobs, well , this old journalist finds it rather bizarre.
Canberra’s viceregal tour isn’t my usual pace so I’ve been waiting a week to see who in the media closest to Yarralumla would follow reports that might suggest the Senate estimates hadn’t been fully briefed on the relationship between the Governor-General, the official secretary to the Governor-General, and the guy who apparently single-handedly invented a charity out of thin air that is set to receive $18 million from the federal government.
But the expected sequel did not happen. Given the attention span of the news cycle, if it hasn’t happened after a week, it won’t happen.
Yes, yes, I know, it’s been a while, but it’s almost like there’s a fear of a lèse-majesté charge for further examination of the relationship between the Australian Future Leaders Governor General’s Foundation.
Millions in funding
There were some great stories by ABC’s Stephanie Borys in April when questions began to arise in the Senate Estimates about GG David Hurley’s role in convincing the Morrison government to donate millions of dollars and grant tax-deductible status to a charity without an office nor personal.
It is doubtful that then Finance Minister Simon Birmingham’s attempts to officially justify the expenditure would help anyone with a working knowledge of the English language.
On August 24, someone with detailed knowledge of the government’s labyrinthine accounting requirements reported for Michael West Media on the funding put in place, in light of the Governor General’s performance while Mr Morrison collected secret ministries.
In the financial fine print required to hand out millions of dollars in response to lobbying by the GG and its secretary, the finance minister’s explanatory memorandum said more than once the program was “an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Department and the Cabinet in consultation with the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor General”.
“The overall aim of the program is to develop a group of nationally-minded, cross-sector leaders who are better connected and influential, and who jointly share a commitment to Australia’s future, values and national interest,” says the press release.
The statement goes along the same lines on the creation of what appears to be a networking club, initially made up of 120 selected people who will “in one way or another complement the government’s economic recovery plan and catalyze societal cohesion. , equity and will focus on the national interest, problems and opportunities”. – whatever that means.
If you were to form the opinion that this is all a bit rich, I’d be with you, but wouldn’t we all love to catalyze a bit of societal cohesion if we get the chance?
Two days after the Michael West Media story, ‘citizen reporter’ Ronni Salt posted a Twitter thread as a matter of public interest demonstrating the close relationship between David Hurley and the executive director, prime mover, instigator and sole employee of the catalyst for societal cohesion, a certain Chris Hartley.
She also cited a statement from the GG and estimates from the Senate, evidence from which “a reasonable person would assume that the Governor General met with Chris Hartley in June 2020, had little to do with Mr. Hartley “.
“The Governor-General has no relationship with Mr Hartley (other than discussions of Australia’s Future Leaders Program and a brief meeting in 2019 around the 100th anniversary of the Peace Rowing Regatta),” the statement said. GG press release.
“There is no existing relationship,” official GG secretary Paul Singer told Estimates.
Before that in the Estimates:
Senator Ayres: How did Mr. Hartley make himself known to you and to the Governor General? Is it someone you or the Governor General know?
Mr Singer: I think the Governor-General may have had a tangential and peripheral relationship with him in other ways in the past – for example, through a central rowing regatta for the King’s Cup in the UK.
Ms Salt – keen to point out that there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of Mr Hartley and his “admirable charity work” – took to Twitter to demonstrate via publicly available sources that David Hurley and Chris Hartley seemed to have met quite often. on various occasions, often related to their common interest in rowing.
And since 2020, David Hurley and Chris Hartley have had several meetings to discuss what Mr Hartley calls the Governor General’s agenda for future Australian leaders.
It is possible that the Senate Estimates did not include all of this.
under the radar
As reported by Ms. Salt, Mr. Singer answered the question if he knew Mr. Hartley. “He may not have had a chance to say he knew Chris Hartley well,” she tweeted. This can happen during questions about the estimates.
Both Mr. Hartley and Mr. Singer are alumni of the Commonwealth Studies Conference, a leadership forum.
It’s interesting that the estimates may not have captured the big picture. There are a few days left in the Senate to refuse funding, if it wants to, if it does not fear a lese-majesté charge.
But Ms. Salt’s research and reporting are known only to those who follow her on Twitter. As stated at the start, this is a story about a story that no one else seems to think is worth telling.
As for the GG, it’s almost like it’s a bit accident-prone.
There was the matter of not recording multi-departmental Morrison, there was the matter of his promotional video for the builder who did the renovations to his private home, and now it feels like he didn’t know Chris Hartley as well as he seemed to know Chris Hartley.