Scott Morrison and Brian HoustonPrime Minister Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison’s Hillsong mates ripped off $millions in Aboriginal grants and tenders. Why is no one talking about that?

Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s mates at Hillsong Church ripped off $millions in Aboriginal funding from the government which is well known. But that fraud and theft, and many others like it, from the federal budget has received no attention from politicians or the media during the indigenous referendum coverage for recognition in the constitution and a voice to parliament.

The fact that fraud and theft from Indigenous Affairs received no mention by any politicians during the referendum campaign shows that all sides played politics with the Voice Referendum.

I published an article in September 2020 titled “Scott Morrison’s Hillsong mate Leigh Coleman who has allegations of fraud and bribery against him given $42 million in government grants” and I will republish the article below in a minute so you can see the documented evidence of stealing from Indigenous Affairs.

But firstly, a few words on the lack of discussion on the fraud and theft over the last few weeks during the referendum promotion and media reporting.

Fraud and theft from the Indigenous Affairs budget should have been the central argument for people pushing the “Yes” vote. And for people pushing the “NO” vote they needed to address how they planned to stop the fraud and theft.

The loudest voice pushing the “Yes” vote was the Labor Party and the loudest voice pushing the “No” vote was Liberal/National coalition parties. The reason the political parties were the loudest voices is because they had access to the old media on a daily basis.

While Prime Minister Anthony Albanese might have pushed for the “Yes” vote he would not go anywhere near to highlighting all the corruption in the Indigenous Affairs budget during the 9 years of the coalition government which would have been a great argument for voting “Yes” to the Voice.

A key reason for “The Voice” was to audit spending on Indigenous Affairs to stop money being wasted and stolen.

But just like Albanese nobbled the National Anti-Corruption Commission by legislating to only having secret hearings, except in exceptional circumstances, Albanese has in effect nobbled the “Yes” vote by failing to highlight a key reason for voting “Yes”.

Albanese and his government should have been highlighting examples of financial fraud in the Indigenous Affairs department on a daily basis over the course of the referendum campaign. It’s ridicules to jump up and down and say money is being wasted and stolen but then fail to give examples.

No campaigner Senator Jacinta Price was reported last week to say she wanted an audit of Indigenous Affairs spending and then “hours after” Senator Price called for the audit Opposition Leader Peter Dutton called for an audit of spending.

Senator Price and Peter Dutton quickly went silent on the idea of an audit and after reading the Morrison / Hillsong fraud and theft below it will be obvious why. Price and Dutton shot of their mouths with thinking then realised most of the fraud and theft over the last 10 years happened on Coalition’s watch.

As it turns out any audit would also likely capture “No” campaigner Warren Mundine which might also help explain why Dutton and Price quickly shut their mouths after calling for an audit. The AFR reported:

Peter Dutton’s attempts to question spending on Indigenous programs may put $7 million in government contracts linked to No campaigner and businessman Warren Mundine under the spotlight, with Voice advocates calling for the grants to be reviewed.

Under the former Coalition government, companies linked to Mr Mundine received more than $7.1 million in contracts to deliver training and employment services, and for subsidised wages for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.

Mr Mundine’s company Nyungga Black Group also received funding for a Sky News program called Mundine Means Business, showcasing entrepreneurship and enterprise by Indigenous-led firms. Freedom of information documents released by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet show funding for the second season of the show was approved before a grant application had been submitted.

Mr Mundine was paid $255,983 for his work as co-chair of the Abbott government’s Indigenous Advisory Council between 2013 and 2017. (Click here to read more)

Other than the one AFR article quoted from above no other media have reported during the referendum campaign on the details of fraud and theft in Indigenous Affairs.

The SMH reported:

“But Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney said she had made changes in June to address an audit that highlighted what she called the “clearly deficient” safeguards in place during nine years of Coalition government.” (Click here to read more)

Labor were elected in May 2022 but Linda Burney didn’t make changes for over a year until June 2023 to address “clearly deficient” safeguards in place during nine years of Coalition government”.

Everyone knows that fraud and theft in Indigenous Affairs has been rife for years, if not decades, and Minister Linda Burney took over a year to do something about it which is not good enough when she could have fixed the issue is a couple of weeks at the most.

Has Linda Burney or the federal Labor government referred any fraud and theft in Indigenous Affairs to the National Anti-Corruption Commission and if not, why not?

Ripping off Indigenous Australians the Scott Morrison and Hillsong Church way

I published an article on the 5th of September 2020 titled “Scott Morrison’s Hillsong mate Leigh Coleman who has allegations of fraud and bribery against him given $42 million in government grants” which I have republished in full below:

Leigh Coleman who is a former Hillsong Church executive and close friend of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has had numerous allegations of fraud made against him over the last 15 years including attempted bribery, yet his company ServeGate Australia has still managed to be awarded $43 million in government contracts since 2015.

During the same period that ServeGate Australia was being awarded the $43 million in contracts due to the “strong business relations with decision-makers at very high levels including Ministers” as their website says, Scott Morrison was appointed Treasurer in September 2015 and became Prime Minister in August 2018. So, was Scott Morrison involved in any way?

ServeGate Australia is now a registered tax-free charity, and its operations are suspicious to say the least where they don’t seem to do much work except take a percentage off the top and then sub-contract the real work out to other companies. This has been exposed in an article in The Guardian, but we’ll get back to that in a minute because we should look at Leigh Coleman’s past handiwork first of fraud and bribery allegations when he was at Hillsong Church and an organisation called Many Rivers which is also a registered tax-free charity.

Leigh Coleman’s fraud and theft from Aboriginals while working at Hillsong Church

In 2005 allegations were made that Leigh Armstrong and Hillsong Church tried a swifty to rip off the Riverstone Aboriginal Community Association but when caught out they tried to bribe them to keep quiet. The SMH reported:

THE Hillsong Church has denied it used an Aboriginal community to secure a federal grant and then tried to bribe the community to keep silent.

A Labor MP, Ian West, told the NSW Parliament last month the church’s charitable arm, Hillsong Emerge, “misused” the Riverstone Aboriginal Community Association to apply for a $415,000 crime-prevention grant from the Federal Government.

Mr West said Hillsong used the community “to get taxpayers’ money for its own purposes” and then “lamely tried to dole out some of the money in return for their co-option”.

“Taxpayer funding which is needed for local disadvantaged communities is now being channelled directly into Hillsong’s bank accounts,” he said.

Mr West said Hillsong plagiarised funding proposals which were supposed to be made as part of a joint application with the Riverstone association.

In August, the Prime Minister, John Howard, announced the grant to Hillsong but did not mention the involvement of Riverstone or any other partners.

The head of Hillsong, Leigh Coleman, later wrote to the community offering to give it $280,000 from the grant.

Mr West said this was an attempt “to pay off the Riverstone Aboriginal Community Association in return for its silence”.

Last week he told Parliament he had since been branded a “liar” during Hillsong services. (Click here to read more)

Mr West being “branded a “liar” during Hillsong services” suggests Brian Houston was involved at least to some degree.

In 2006 Leigh Coleman’s operation at Hillsong Emerge – the evangelical group’s former benevolent arm – had its funding discontinued after revelations the vast majority of taxpayer dollars went to employing staff. (Click here to read more)

It was also reported in 2006:

Indigenous development grants to Hillsong‘s benevolent arm have gone almost entirely to employing and providing offices for church staff, with only a trickle reaching Aborigines.

In one case, Hillsong Emerge spent $315,000 in federal funds employing seven of its own staff in Sydney to administer a “micro-credit” project that made only six loans to Aborigines worth an average of $2856 each.

Hillsong also failed to enable a single Aborigine to become self-employed under a $610,968 federal grant to encourage indigenous entrepreneurship. The $610,968 grant was approved in just three weeks, and Hillsong faced no competition since it was the only applicant.

The revelations are contained in answers from senator Eric Abetz, representing Employment Minister Kevin Andrews, to a detailed series of questions on notice from Labor’s indigenous affairs spokesman, Chris Evans.

They show that far more funds are spent on Hillsong staffers and administration than actual service delivery. One federal grant paid $965,421 to Hillsong Emerge to administer $280,000 in loan funds. (Click here to read more)

No need to worry about Leigh Coleman: “In 2006 it was reported the Federal Government admitted he received $80,000 of federal indigenous development funds to top up his salary, despite having only indirect involvement in projects run by Hillsong Emerge. Mr Coleman declined to comment.” (Click here to read more)

Leigh Coleman’s fraud and theft from Aboriginals while working at Many Rivers Microfinance

In 2011 reported:

A CHRISTIAN charity which has so far spent more than $1.3 million to generate just $330,000 in loans for Indigenous Australians is being investigated.

Many Rivers Microfinance is run by a former Hillsong executive who has already come under parliamentary scrutiny over an earlier loans program that delivered only a trickle of funds to the Indigenous community.

In 2006 Leigh Coleman’s operation at Hillsong Emerge – the evangelical group’s former benevolent arm – had its funding discontinued after revelations the vast majority of taxpayer dollars went to employing staff.

Mr Coleman’s current program at Many Rivers has since successfully raised millions of dollars from the Federal Government and some of the country’s biggest companies including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Westpac.

But since its inception in 2007 to the end of the 2010 financial year the latest available records show it has delivered just 74 microenterprise loans worth a total of $330,000.

While declining to provide evidence as to how the reported $1.375 million had been spent delivering them, the charity said that – like the discontinued Hillsong pilot – the bulk had gone on staff salaries and training.

Mr Coleman, who is chief executive officer, a director and also a company member of Many Rivers, declined requests to be interviewed. (Click here to read more)

Leigh Coleman

Leigh Coleman, above, speaking in support of a controversial Hillsong superchurch in Sydney where he identified himself as a “local resident”. The proposed church failed to attract community support and was withdrawn. Vera Coleman is seated bottom left.

Leigh Coleman seems to be a serial fraudster who uses charities to dodge tax and avoid accountability.

Leigh Coleman and his new tax-free charity ServeGate Australia

The Guardian published an article on the 4/9/20 titled “The unconventional charity run by Scott Morrison’s ‘dear friend’ Leigh Coleman” which starts off:

A company founded and run by a man the prime minister, Scott Morrison, describes as “a very dear friend” has received more than $43m in government contracts since 2015, mostly from defence, while being a registered charity helping Indigenous businesses with advice.

The company, ServeGate Australia, has as its founding CEO Leigh Coleman, who Morrison mentioned in his maiden speech as a key influence on his life. Its nominated charitable purposes are to increase Aboriginal employment and reduce welfare dependency.

The unconventional ServeGate model – described by Coleman as “unique” – involves contracting with the commonwealth government then subcontracting the work to conventional – almost all non-Indigenous – small and medium professional services companies.

Profits from the government work subsidise Coleman and other staff members’ salaries while they provide advice to a small number of selected Indigenous businesses.

The company’s website makes no mention of its charity status, and some companies that received subcontracted work through ServeGate have told Guardian Australia they were not aware it was a charity. (Click here to read more)

The Guardian article is well researched and left me in no doubt that Leigh Coleman is up to his old tricks as the company is very light on detail when asked basic questions and their answers are contradicted by others which suggest they are lying.

It’s no surprise that friends of Scott Morrison are involved in government fraud. Scott Morrison’s good mates David Gazard and Peter Costello have done very well out of Australia’s $50 billion submarine contract because of their links to Morrison. (Click here to read more)

And Peter Costello returned the favour by using his position as Nine Entertainment Chairman and had a fundraiser at Channel Nine studios at Sydney to raise $700,000 for the Liberal Party. (Click here to read more)

It should be remembered that Scott Morrison was sacked by the Liberal Party in 2006 for likely fraud when he was Managing Director of Tourism Australia. I wrote an article on the matter which started off:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was sacked as Managing Director of Tourism Australia in 2006 and he has always refused to say why. One thing is for certain, it had to be massive wrongdoing by Morrison. Why? Because Scott Morrison, who was State Director of the New South Wales Liberal Party from 2000 to 2004, was sacked by a Liberal Party Minister in the Liberal Party John Howard government and they don’t sack one of their own for a minor reason or even a major reason.

Morrison’s sacking had to be something, at the very least, bordering on criminal and more than likely actual criminal conduct. (Click here to read more)

The question that Scott Morrison needs to answer is what involvement has he had helping Leigh Coleman and his so-called charity ServeGate Australia getting the $43 million in government contracts?

(End of republished article – Click here to see the original article)

Leigh Coleman went on to receive over $100 million in government contacts and I published an article in February 2022 titled “Scott Morrison’s Hillsong mate Leigh Coleman, an alleged fraudster and crook, set to break $100 million in government contracts.” (Click here to read the article)

If Anthony Albanese and the government had shone a light on the fraud and theft in Indigenous Affairs under the previous federal coalition government, as per the above article, I have no doubt the Yes vote would have been higher. Whether it would have changed the result is unknown, but it would have been the right thing to do anyhow.

At the time of writing this article (Saturday night) the national results are sitting on 39.9% votes for Yes and 60.1% for No which means the referendum won’t succeed.

But irrespective of the result of the referendum, addressing fraud and theft in Indigenous Affairs needs to be front and centre moving forward which the coalition failed to do for 9 years.

And the current government by their own admission only fixed “clearly deficient safeguards” after more than a year in office in June 2023 which is a scandalous failure of the Labor government to take so long to fix a well known problem.

One irony of the “No” vote winning is that opposition leader Peter Dutton will think he had a huge win when in fact he has almost guaranteed he has no chance of winning the next election.

Peter Dutton needs to win back most, if not all, of the Independent seats (Teal seats) that the Liberals lost at the last federal election to have any chance at the next election. And a quick check shows the Teal seats, who all promoted the Yes vote, have huge “Yes” vote percentages.

Some examples are Sydney seats: Wentworth – 62.7% Yes, North Sydney – 59.6% Yes, Warringah – 59.1% Yes. And In Victoria: Goldstein – 56.7% Yes and Kooyong 59.9% Yes. And in WA it’s a bit tighter: Curtin – 51.3% Yes. The results quoted are not final results so could change but likely only 1 or 2 points. (Click here to read more)

Peter Dutton has guaranteed another referendum if he wins the next election. Will he tell the voters all the details or wait until after the next election? And “No” campaigner Warren Mundine said a “No” vote will expedite treaties with Indigenous Australians which I thought most “No” voters were against. Interesting times ahead to say the least.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese needs to grow a backbone and deal with the issue in an open and just manner and get rid of his crocodile tears which he is using way too often and no one is buying.

I will use the above article to make a formal complaint to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

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21 replies »

  1. Thank You so much KCA for your investigative work. Brilliantly written article, the result of the NO winning the Referendum in my view was not only incredibly sad but will be the catalyst for better things ahead. We must not ever give up to expose the corruption and truly disgraceful conduct of politicians who misuse funds that must go to those who truly need it. Outstanding! Thank You!

  2. It is so difficult to experience a long period of being content and relaxed in Australia at the moment.More and more corruption and government cover ups are being exposed as to why the main players on the political stage are seen to be fraudulent and venal.Australian Political Power has been bought and sold for some years and it makes me sad to somehow be apart of it and yet be so powerless to improve it or change it for the better.

  3. Thank you once again Shane for shining the KCA spotlight where the majority of the media fails to do so by turning a blind eye.

  4. On this sad day the devastation is impossible to describe. But Shane keeps on exposing the corruption and reminds us not to give in to it.

  5. Sad that Morrison was allowed to corrupt so many people. Also that so many people (politicians and corporate leaders) have their snouts in the trough that no one is game to speak out and let the sun shine in. This is confirmed by the fact that Albanese decided NACC inquiries should be in secret. No way the dirty corruption allegations (proven and alleged) would hit the light of day. Guess this means that all politicians are in the pea green boat.

  6. Unbelievable corruption, why has this not been investigated. These people are blindingly thieving and getting away with it. Sickening.

  7. Dutton will be looking for a job after the next Election.
    The Referendum Proposal was a complete dog, yet Albanese still drew 40% of the vote.
    Anyone who thinks 60% NO is an endorsement of the Liberal Party isn’t paying attention, a coalition of Liberal/Green/Labor biddies, freaks and geeks were the YES 40%,
    and they’ll be saddling up for Albanese at Election time too.

  8. I hope this article and KCA’s incredibly hard work gets a huge amount of attention. The corruption needs to end and by exposing and punishing the real perpetrators will send a message to them all that we will not let them get away with stealing our money.

  9. What lost the referendum was the fact it was to be cemented into the constitution.
    Legislation would and could have achieved the same thing but would have allowed for more elasticity, every agrees money seems to have not reached its targets.
    Hopefully enough ‘voices’ will get the much needed enquiry and a forensic audit underway.
    The referendum will have then served a good purpose.

  10. I am totally and utterly astonished … indeed GOBSMACKED!
    How and why is this IMHO, open and flagrant corruption allowed to go on?
    Where is an honest copper when you need one?
    On this occasion, I am truly lost for words. I shake my head in disbelief.
    Thanks, KCA … good work.
    Yes, they should ALL be NACCered!

  11. I didn’t get beyond this statement. Q A key reason for “The Voice” was to audit spending on Indigenous Affairs to stop money being wasted and stolen. I appreciate your long term efforts I would like to read more if you can provide or link. In all my months of searching found no indication myself.

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