Senate Estimates has uncovered further evidence of the Liberal Party’s crass politicisation of the Australian Treasury through the appointment of Scott Morrison’s former Chief-of-Treasurer as Treasury Secretary.
Most of Labor’s questions to the new Treasury Secretary, Mr Phil Gaetjens, was marred by a clear pattern of interference from Mathias Cormann.
In an extraordinary revelation, Mr Gaetjens admitted to not providing a CV to PM&C as part of the appointment process for Treasury Secretary.
All the Government could offer was Mathias Cormann’s feeble ‘the CV of Mr Gaetjens is well-known’.
Mr Gaetjens wouldn’t answer questions on whether or not he advised the former Treasurer Scott Morrison to vote against a Banking Royal Commission twenty-six times.
It was put to Mr Gaetjens that as uncovered via a Treasury Freedom of Information request, Treasury had sent him information that had been requested to attack Labor’s reforms to dividend imputation, a fact initially disputed because according to Mr Gaetjens I was not either actioning or the direct recipient of that email.” That is not correct.
Federal Labor is concerned that only a few months ago, Mr Gaetjens was the spearhead of political advice to Scott Morrison attacking Labor’s policy, and now as Treasury Secretary, he’s responsible for Treasury advice on this and any submission it might make to Tim Wilson’s Dodgy Inquiry into Labor’s reforms to dividend imputation.
Federal Labor has consistently expressed a concern at what such an overtly partisan political appointment means for the development of the incoming Labor Government brief and the production of the independent Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook (PEFO).
Keneally: Mr Gaetjens did you include your time as Chief of Staff to these former Treasurers on the CV you provided to the Prime Minister and Cabinet as part of its appointment process?
Gaetjens: I didn’t apply…. supply a CV to the Prime Minister and Cabinet department
Keneally: You didn’t supply your CV or record of your history to Prime Minister and Cabinet? Did you supply one to anyone as part of your appointment process?
Cormann: The CV of Mr Gaetjens is well known. I think the Labor party would know the CV of Mr Gaetjens in some great detail.
Keneally: So are you telling me Minister that the Government appointed a Treasury Secretary without getting a copy of his CV?
Cormann: The appointment process in relation to the position of secretary of any portfolio of any department across the Australian public service is a matter for the Prime Minister’s portfolio of course.
BERNADI: We are here to talk about Treasury estimates. We’ve got a new Treasury secretary. Yes his experience is well known, his politics and his association with it is well known. Can we get on to the substance of what we’re meant to be talking about?
Keneally: Mr Gaetjens, how many times did you advise Scott Morrison to vote against a Banking Royal Commission?
Gaetjens: I can’t see how that’s relevant with this Estimates hearing, I’m sorry.
Keneally: It’s incredibly relevant. A Banking Royal Commission is currently taking place. The Treasurer who you served as Chief of Staff voted against it 26 times. What advice did you provide to him regarding the Banking Royal Commission?
McAllister: Mr Gaetjens, on the Treasury FOI log, there is an FOI numbered 2292. It’s a series of documents in response to a request from a Fairfax journalist who sought Treasury briefs or documents provided to the Treasurer’s office on the refund ability of dividend imputation. Are you familiar with that FOI document Mr Gaetjens?
Gaetjens: I do remember one on the issue yes.
McAllister: So you’re aware that that comprises a series of emails from Treasury officials to you specifically advising on Labor’s dividend imputation policy on the day that that policy was announced?
Gaetjens: My memory I think was I was copied in, I was not either actioning or the direct recipient of that email.

McAllister: Mr Geatjens, I go back to the FOI that I referred to earlier, 2292, and on the second page of that there is an email from an official and it commences with “Hi Phil and Gerry”. There is no other Phil listed in the ‘TO’s or ‘CC’s, I assume that that person companionably referred to as Phil is you? It’s Phillip Gaetjens.
Gaetjens: I’d have to double check that.
McAllister: Well Mr Gaetjens I’m putting it to you that you are in receipt, you were in receipt at that time of material that was requested in order to attack the Labor Party’s tax policies and I’m asking you how you….