Principal Economic Analyst
Parks ACT 2600
4 November 2019
RE: Official Letter of Complaint against the Australian Treasury
Dear Secretary Steven Kennedy,
I am writing to you directly to launch an official complaint against the Australian Treasury (Treasury).
On Friday afternoon of 1 November 2019, details of a Treasury Ministerial Submission (the Submission) was published on social media. The Submission was obtained as a result of a Freedom of Information request (FOI 2580 - Document 1).
Economy Wide Cash Payment Limit
On 16 August 2019, the Submission relating to the Economy Wide Cash Payment Limit (CPL) was sent to the Minister for Housing and the Assistant Treasurer, the Hon. Michael Sukkar MP (the Minister) as well as to the Treasurer, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP (the Treasurer).
The Submission provided the Minister and the Treasurer with the outcomes of the public consultation conducted by the Treasury regarding the Currency (Restrictions of the Use of Cash) Bill 2019, the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash - Excepted Transactions) Instrument 2019 and other associated documentation. The public consultation was conducted by Treasury from 26 July 2019 to 12 August 2019.
In the Submission, Treasury informed the Minister and the Treasurer that:
"Treasury has received over 3,500 submissions during the two week public consultation period. Over 3,400 of these submissions are part of a campaign by the Citizens Electoral Council."
This statement by Treasury is both factually incorrect and highly offensive to thousands of Australia who have legitimate concerns about the Government's proposed legislation and its economic and broader social impacts and who have no political or financial association or affiliation with the Citizens Electoral Council (CEC).
‘In the Interests of the People’ YouTube Channel
The actual historical record is very different to the claims made by Treasury via the Submission. The facts are as follows:
1. The first media platform which highlighted the Currency (Restrictions of the Use of Cash) Bill 2019 and its policy implications was not the CEC, but actually a YouTube based economics program called "In the Interests of the People" (IOTP) which is co-hosted by myself (John Adams of Adams Economics) and Martin North from Digital Finance Analytics.
2. "In the Interests of the People" is Australia’s number 1 YouTube based economics program and is viewed regularly by Australian politicians across the Federal and State Parliaments as well as by members of the mainstream media (MSM).
3. Martin North and myself are not members of the CEC and are both politically independent (we are currently not members of any political party in Australia).
4. Our program which aired on 30 July 2019, ‘Red Alert: Scomo declares war on the Australian people’ attracted an audience of over 92,000 viewers with approximately 80% of the program's audience being Australians domestically within Australia (as revealed by YouTube analytics).
During this program, we encouraged Australians from across the country to voice their opposition to the CPL by lodging a submission with Treasury.
5. This show followed on from our program, “A war on cash is a war on the people” which aired on YouTube 16 March 2019 in which we discussed the CPL. This program on that occasion attracted an audience of over 22,000 viewers.
6. During the consultation period, IOTP published a subsequent post on 6 August 2019, Don’t Believe the Establishment’s Cash Ban Lies and Propaganda which attracted an audience of over 21,000 views (due to technical errors with YouTube’s software during this period, it is difficult for IOTP to establish the real audience for this program).
Again, we encouraged our audience to lodge a submission with Treasury opposing the CPL.
7. Our 30 July 2019 IOTP program ignited a flurry of other Australian based internet programs to discuss and oppose the CPL including:
· The ‘Heise Says’ YouTube program (the episode was called ‘Australia’s planned $10,000 Cash Spending Limit’) which was broadcasted on 31 July 2019 and attracted an audience in excess of 28,000 viewers.
· Martin North’s Digital Finance Analytics program on the Walk the World YouTube channel (the episode was called ‘the real issue behind the cash ban’) which was broadcasted on 1 August 2019 and attracted an audience of approximately 147,000 viewers with a majority of viewers being outside of Australia.
8. On 31 July 2019, I wrote a newsletter entitled ‘Critical: You have 7 weeks to save Australia’ to my extensive subscription database via my website, www.adamseconomics.com encouraging my subscribers to lodge a submission to Treasury opposing the CPL.
9. On 5 August 2019, I lodged my submission to Treasury opposing the CPL and subsequently published the submission via my www.adamseconomics.com website. Over 4,000 Australians read my submission including many Australians who lodged their own submission to Treasury, the overwhelming majority of whom have no political or financial relationship with the CEC.
10. On 11 August 2019, Martin North via his Walk the World YouTube Channel broadcasted an episode entitled ‘What I said to Treasury’, which detailed his specific arguments opposing the CPL. This episode attracted an audience of over 15,000 and again North encouraged his audience to lodge a submission with Treasury.
11. Our 30 July 2019 IOTP program was responsible for Senator Pauline Hanson declaring her party’s opposition to the CPL which occurred via a Facebook post on 6 August 2019. In this post, Senator Hanson encourage her followers to lodge a submission with Treasury opposing the CPL.
Senator Hanson’s office was first notified of the Treasury consultation process through our program. Senator Hanson’s office personally contacted me prior to publishing their Facebook post seeking technical policy assistance.
12. Senator Malcom Roberts gave an exclusive interview to IOTP declaring Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party’s opposition to the CPL on 17 August 2019.
13. The CEC published a press release opposing the CPL on 30 July 2019, following the release and in response to the 30 July 2019 IOTP program.
14. The CEC’s weekly TV and YouTube program, the CEC Report only spoke of the CEC’s opposition to the CPL during the Treasury consultation period on the 2nd and 8th of August 2019. In these episodes, supporters of the CEC were encouraged to lodge a submission to Treasury opposing the CPL.
The YouTube ratings of these episodes of the CEC Report were in excess of 20,000 and 12,000 respectively.
15. IOTP’s leading coverage of the CPL was acknowledged by MSM organisations, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Daily Mail Australia and Ten Daily who sought and published my personal policy views regarding the CPL. This includes Nassim Khadem from the ABC who published two online stories on:
20 August 2019: Paying More than $10,000 in Cash could make you a criminal under proposed law
25 August 2019: Banning cash so you pay the bank to hold your money is what the IMF wants
The views of the CEC were not featured in any of these MSM reports, nor was the CEC invited to comment on radio or television whereas I appeared on ABC News 24 TV on 20 August 2019 as well as on ABC local radio Perth, Adelaide and Alice Springs publicly opposing the CPL.
Previous campaigns initiated by the Citizens Electoral Council (CEC)
The last major campaign that was initiated by the CEC against a piece of Commonwealth legislation was in 2017 in which they opposed the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Crisis Resolution Powers and Others Measures) Bill 2017.
I am informed by officials from the CEC that their campaign against this legislation during a similar 2-week Treasury consultation process in August 2017 only resulted in approximately 250 submissions being lodged with the Treasury.
Given the track record of the CEC and the resources at their disposal, it is impossible that the bulk of the submissions received by Treasury during the CPL consultation round could have been driven or led by the CEC’s campaign against the CPL legislation.
Misleading the Minister and the Treasurer
The actions of your Department have resulted in the Minister and the Treasurer being grossly misled.
Given the CEC’s controversial history and in some cases radical and untenable policy views, the lumping of the genuine concerns and opposition to the CPL by a cross section of Australians who have no political or financial affiliation/association with the CEC is both unfair and unconscionable.
Via the Submission, Treasury officials have sought to delegitimise and dismiss thousands of Australians who oppose the CPL.
As a former Commonwealth public servant and economic advisor to an Australian Senator (Senator Sinodinos), I find the actions of officials from your department to be highly unprofessional and bordering on being corrupt.
I plan on informing my IOTP audience and my website subscribers of the actions of the Treasury. Thousands of Australians will be deeply offended at how your department has handled this matter.
The reputational damage that officials involved in the drafting and approval of the Submission will inflict on the Treasury and on the Australian Government will be materially and adversely significant.
It is only appropriate that Treasury issue a public apology to those Australians who participated in the CPL consultation process and who have no association or affiliation with the CEC.
I would also suggest that the officials responsible for drafting and approving the Submission be formally disciplined over this matter.
I plan on sharing my official complaint with Federal Parliamentarians including Senators and their staff.
If you wish to discuss the matter further, I can be contacted either by e-mail at email@example.com.