Mark Latham’s Outsiders

 

KEY POINTS:

• The Foundation established by Rosie Batty in memory of her son closes down
• Financial mismanagement and abuse of female staff remain unreported by most mainstream media
• Left-feminists pushed Rosie Batty into the media spotlight, without allowing her a decent period of recovery; they used her for political purposes.

One of the rules of media management in Australian politics is to dump out bad news on a Friday afternoon, avoiding full scrutiny as media outlets wind down for the weekend. Late last Friday it was reported that after three years of operation, the Luke Batty Foundation (LBF) was being closed. The mainstream media praised the outgoing CEO Rosie Batty but did not publish the truth about the Foundation: it had been plagued by financial irregularities, alarming personnel turnovers and abuse of female staff.

The Foundation’s website has not published financial accounts since 30 June 2016, leaving 20 months unaccounted for at the time of the closure announcement. In just three years the Foundation had 16 different board directors, losing nine along the way. It has also had a revolving door of staff departures, with several leaving because they found it impossible to work with Rosie Batty.

I’m not surprised by the Foundation’s closure. Having been contacted by whistleblowers appalled by its management practices, I knew about its dysfunctionality. I was also aware of how the mainstream media didn’t want to know about this story. They had invested heavily in the legend of Saint Rosie and are in no position to turn around and now say: ‘We got it wrong’.

The whistleblowers who contacted me are very brave. They passed on documents and worrying reports about Rosie Batty. But they also lived in fear, believing they would be further harassed and victimised if their names became public. One actually was, receiving an intimidating email from Batty, simply on suspicion.

I am publishing this material because I believe the stories of the whistleblowers need to be told. The mainstream media often talk about ‘the public’s right to know’. Well here it is: the truth they won’t touch. This is the other side of the story and with it, a compelling lesson: Just because Australia’s political and media elites declare someone to be a saint, it does not mean they are saintly.

My involvement in this matter goes back several years. In 2015 I asked questions of the Luke Batty Foundation about its finances – specifically, if Rosie Batty was drawing a private income, given at that time she was not on staff. Acting on the advice of its spin-doctor, Essential Media, the Foundation tried to fob me off. It was a whitewash, a cover up, until late 2016 when new information emerged.

Whistleblowers gave me documents raising serious issues of financial mismanagement. These are people who wanted to help Rosie following the horrific death of her son Luke in February 2014 – a tragedy for which all Australians have felt sympathetic. But over time, the whistleblowers’ experience at the Foundation was so bad, so demoralising they decided to come clean and correct the record.

Why did they approach me? Two reasons: I had been unfairly brushed aside in my initial inquires about the Foundation; and I was the only person they could find willing to tell the truth. They had also approached a prominent Melbourne media personality but he was too scared to act.

The whistleblowers sent me LBF emails and financial statements detailing an administrative mess. After the Foundation was established in Melbourne in early 2014, Batty created a private bank account into which she paid donations intended for LBF projects. This account became an ongoing source of angst and protest by the Foundation’s directors.

On 17 June 2015, the LBF Treasurer, Anthea West, emailed Batty and other board members with her concern that:

“We do not have any income yet … to date nothing has been received (which is a problem). I need to speak to Rosie about the bank account she opened originally under the Luke Batty Foundation that was under a different ABN (that was setup by her accountant and has nothing to do with the LBF Ltd operations). This is the bank account where personal amounts given to Rosie have been deposited and where she has been paying expenses from.”

West was so alarmed by the operation of Batty’s private account, she wanted it “closed and the ABN cancelled by Rosie”. Another director, Annette Gillespie, urged Batty “to close that account and transfer any funds into the LBF fund account”.

Eight months later, the matter was still being debated. In Item 15 of her Treasurer’s report to the board on 25 February 2016, West had to ask: “Can Rosie confirm that the account has been closed and the ABN cancelled?” Item 1 in the report red-flagged a bigger problem: “Public Fund application of funds – note, $135,000 missing from amount authorised for CEO”.

Sources close to the Foundation said the missing $135,000 referred to “donations into Rosie’s personal bank account that were spent in areas that had no explanation (and) this led to the Treasurer’s resignation.” Batty, West and the CEO at the time, Loretta Mannix-Fell, refused to answer my questions about the missing money in late 2016.

A Foundation staff member confirmed the board was very concerned about the transparency of the private account and wanted it closed immediately. These are serious matters. The Luke Batty Foundation Ltd has been a public company under the Corporations Act, with the specific purpose of “the prevention or control of family violence”. Its directors have had clear fiduciary duties, including the sound management and auditing of its finances.

When I spoke to the Foundation’s auditor, Bradford Baker, he said he had never heard of the separate account. None of the information had been presented to him, either in finalising the 2015 accounts or working on the 2016 report.

“After the concerns aired about the Shane Warne Foundation we have to get things right with these charities”, he said. A few days later he told me, “The material (from the private account) is being forwarded to me, but it will take some time.” After that, he refused to talk about the matter. With the Turnbull Government having granted $500,000 to the Foundation, public money was also on the line – another reason for LBF to make a full public disclosure about its finances before its books are finally closed.

The Foundation has also been troubled by poor workplace practices. Board members and staff found it extremely difficult to work with Rosie Batty. Six of the eight original board members resigned. Foundation employees also left on a regular basis, burnt-out by their experiences with Rosie.

Female staff claimed to have been harangued and screamed at, enduring long hectoring phone calls with language better suited to a shearing shed. One departing staff member said, “No one can work in a place like this, the culture is not right”.

Another woman who worked alongside Batty recalls, “She did yell, scream and swear, and often put the phone down on me. She always seemed tense and needing to be in control.”

“When I left, Rosie confessed to me that she had been
difficult to handle and at times had been a bitch (her words). There was no apology, just the acknowledgement.”

An observer of these workplace practices says, “Rosie is not unaware of what she’s doing, she just can’t control herself when little things go wrong.”

This is the great irony of the Batty story. For someone who has spent several years lecturing the nation about male behaviour and respect for women, her own behaviour has been dreadful. If a man had acted this way in a relationship, she would be calling for him to be locked up.

The hypocrisy gets worse. A former staff member has said that many of Batty’s abusive phone calls were made while travelling in the government car of the then Victorian Minister for Women, Fiona Richardson (now deceased). In an extraordinary arrangement, Batty had on-call use of the Minister’s car and driver entitlement.

Richardson’s portfolio was designed to build respect for women, yet in the vehicle, women were copping it left, right and centre. When I asked them about these incidents in 2016, both Richardson and Batty refused to answer questions.

On 31 October 2016 I was interviewed about the LBF by Alan Jones on Radio 2GB – the first time the true story had been made public. It sent Rosie Batty into a witch-hunt for suspected whistleblowers, against the women who had been victims of her abuse.

Later that day I received emails from one of them. “I have asked Rosie to stop contacting me, but she is still harassing me”, she wrote, “If I am contacted by Rosie again, I think I might have to report her for harassment. Funny thing is: if she were a man it would probably have greater repercussions; oh the irony.” The irony indeed.

In July 2016, following Mannix-Fell’s resignation, Batty took over as the Foundation’s CEO. With other female staff having fled, she was the last woman standing. It only lasted 20 months before the Foundation had to be closed and its money dispersed to other charities.

The whistleblowers still live in fear of repercussions. Abuse of any woman is wrong. What happened to Rosie Batty and her son was tragic, an indescribable loss. But then taking it out on other women was also wrong. The whistleblowers’ story should not disappear into history. It carries an important lesson in how to handle similar matters if they occur in the future.

I believe Rosie Batty was used by Left-feminists in the media to make a political point when she was in no fit state of mind to be pushed forward this way. They shoved her into the spotlight even though she had just been through a traumatic event. The outcome has piled serious problems on top of a personal tragedy, yet the feminazis care little about this. It was only ever about pushing their narrow ideological view of the world, using Rosie Batty as their messenger.

In one of its key strategy documents, the Luke Batty Foundation set a goal of “getting men to recognise they are looking through the lens of privilege and entitlement”. This is the fundamentalist theory of “patriarchy”, arguing that all men are privileged and all women oppressed. The LBF was intensely ideological, using a family tragedy to push a Left-wing view of the world onto the Australian people.

It was also more about status than results for women genuinely in need. The Foundation set a goal that by 2018, for whenever the public thought about domestic violence issues, they would “think Luke Batty Foundation rather than White Ribbon”. This type of institutional rivalry and territory gouging is a terrible refection on the true nature of the DV propaganda machine. It suggests they are in it for themselves, not for real-life victims. Plus it’s a significant waste of public money, with the duplication of resources in this empire-building process.

The LBF has failed, not just in its misguided strategies and poor management practices, but in failing to do justice to an issue that affects Australians in many disadvantaged parts of the country. In its final form, like all propaganda-based projects, it fell over because it wasn’t focused on evidence and results.

This is the inevitable fate of Left-wing campaigns that push their mutant, manufactured ideology onto normal people. Time after time, they fail and LBF has been no different. When will our governments learn not to support this flawed approach and its waste of public money?

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