Showing posts with label lobbyists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lobbyists. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

One of the reasons why local government, traditional owners and communities in the Clarence Valley should be very wary of home-grown and foreign lobbyists, investment consortiums and land developers


On 15 August 2016 four representatives of United Land Councils Ltd & United First Peoples Syndications Pty Ltd gave evidence before the NSW Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 6 INQUIRY INTO CROWN LAND.

One of the projects put forward to the Inquiry by those representatives was the industrialisation of the Clarence River estuary by way of construction of a mega freight port.

The following tale involves a number of persons or firms associated with the aforementioned  companies and this mega port & rail project, including Nick Petroulias aka Michael Felson aka Nick Peterson.

The Newcastle Herald, 21 October 2017:

HE WAS brash and brilliant. A young lawyer from Melbourne who became a rising star of the public service, hand-picked to serve as assistant tax commissioner by the age of 30.

That was until a spectacular fall from grace left Nick Petroulias jailed for using his plum position to do the very thing he was tasked with stamping out: defrauding the tax office.

Since his release from prison in 2010, Mr Petroulias has kept a low profile, going by a number of aliases including Michael Felson and Nick Petersen.

He described himself as a “disabled pensioner” on bankruptcy forms in 2015, with his debts estimated at an eye-watering $104 million.

But Fairfax Media can reveal that he has been accused of working behind the scenes to dupe a wealthy Chinese property developer into the illegal purchase of $12.6 million of Aboriginal land across Newcastle.

The matter is the subject of a Supreme Court legal battle that veteran lawyers have described as one of the most extraordinary cases they have seen in their careers.

Labelled by a lawyer familiar with the case as a real-life version of “Alice in Wonderland”, its cast of characters includes an international fugitive known as Robbie Rocket, a convicted drug dealer and a dead company director who somehow continued signing agreements a year after he was cremated in a Sydney cemetery.

The existence of an international money laundering syndicate and a karaoke junket intended as a bribery attempt are among the other sensational allegations contained within thousands of pages of evidence that have been tendered to the court.

Collectively, the lands were valued at $12.6 million.

Two Awabakal board members met with Mr Zong. At the negotiating table, they introduced him to Mr Petroulias – an agent for the parties involved – and Knightsbridge North Lawyers, a firm enlisted to broker the deal.

The only catch, Mr Zong was informed, was that the portfolio of land had already been sold to another buyer a year beforehand.

But he was assured that in return for a payment, that purchaser would remove themself from the picture.

By the end of the year, things appeared to be proceeding smoothly. 

Mr Zong had signed sales contracts, begun pursuing the land’s rezoning and outlaid nearly a million dollars – money he believed was a combination of a deposit and a payout for the former buyer.

But then came a shock announcement that threatened to derail the transaction: the state government had launched an investigation into the land council.

The investigation followed complaints about the land council’s governance and finances.

But Mr Zong alleges he was reassured the deal was still on a steady footing. He claims to have been told by Mr Petroulias that “there was no reason arising from the investigation that would compromise the validity of the transaction documents”. 

However, damning findings from the government’s investigator resulted in the land council being placed into administration. Then, the confirmation came: the sale was off.

Mr Zong ordered the immediate repayment of his $1 million, but his demands were refused. His property development companies – Sunshine Property Investment Group and Sunshine Warners Bay –  launched a civil claim for damages and to recoup the losses.

Caught in the legal crossfire was the land council, its law firm Knightsbridge, and the land’s original buyer, a mysterious company registered under the name Gows Heat.

Since it was placed into administration last year, the Awabakal land council has been under the control of Terry Lawler, a prominent Newcastle financier and philanthropist awarded an OAM in January.

Mr Lawler has recruited a high-powered legal team – including top silk Jeremy Kirk SC – to defend the land council and launch a cross-claim.

They have argued that the sales contracts Mr Zong signed were bogus and none of the proceeds found their way into the land council’s coffers.

Read the full article here.

The Newcastle Herald, 15 December 2017:

A wealthy Chinese developer appears set to withdraw a lawsuit against the Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council. 

Tony Zong and his Sunshine Property Investment Group had alleged they were conned into a deal to purchase $12.6 million of Aboriginal land across the city.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard the matter – involving disgraced former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias – was “painfully close” to being resolved. 

It’s understood Awabakal lawyers want the land council’s costs covered as part of the settlement. 

“There doesn’t seem to be terribly much at issue in the Sunshine matter now except for the terms of discontinuance,” Justice Darke said. 

A separate action against Awabakal is also making its way through the courts. 

Knightsbridge North Lawyers has placed a caveat over the old Newcastle Post Office while it pursues the land council for $26,743 in alleged unpaid fees. 

Justice Darke indicated mediation could occur if the matter remained unresolved when the case returns to court in February. 


Friday, 29 September 2017

"As our land subsides and cracks open and our permanent creek is sucked dry, I can feel our patience towards the miners doing the same"


The Land, 24 September 2017:


Environmental hypocrisy
FOR the past 20 years, my husband and I have experienced first-hand the mining industry’s attitude to impacted farmers and to rehabilitation. 
Now, their recent attacks on environmental charities makes my blood boil. As the unsuspecting neighbours of the Wambo underground coal mine near Singleton, our beef cattle business’ productivity has been cut almost in half.
As our land subsides and cracks open and our permanent creek is sucked dry, I can feel our patience towards the miners doing the same. 
Despite decades of word-fests, reports and promises, we have seen no real action at all from the mining company to rehabilitate our land, or our creek water.        
It turns out our experience is not isolated; only nine per cent of all mining land across Australia has been successfully rehabilitated. Across Australia there are massive voids filling with toxic water, poisoned or destroyed creeks and land subsiding. And the mining industry’s solution to their gaping mess: get environmental charities to clean it up!
Currently there are reforms being proposed to the Tax Deductibility Status of all sectors of charities by Federal Treasury.  
The miners see this as their chance to not only duck their own responsibilities, but to also pass the buck to environmental charities. The changes promoted by the mining sector, single out environmental charities only, for them to spend half their time on physical works to clean up the toxic messes created by the mining industry.
The hypocrisy is astounding. When I saw that one organisation close to my heart, the Lock The Gate Alliance, was under attack by these reforms, I was sickened. Without them, our fight to rehabilitate our farm would have been a lot harder.  
Their help with connecting us with politicians and government officials, getting our story into the media and sharing experiences of other mine-impacted people has been priceless. 
Most importantly they help to keep us sane, giving us hope that one day we will break the impasse of inaction by the miners.
We earn our money, we pay taxes and we can choose to support charities that we believe are helping to create a better world. 
They should be left alone to do their work without these extra burdens, designed to feather the nest of multinational mining companies.
Wambo mine, and hundreds like it across Australia, must factor the cost of properly rehabilitating land and water into their cost of doing business.  
Otherwise it is a sham business model that the community is subsidising.
The proposed changes could mean Lock the Gate would have less time to help advocate for the rights of farmers to produce clean food for Australia. 
Instead, they’d be forced out into our paddocks with shovels, filling in the sink holes made by the mines.
We need groups like Lock the Gate holding the mining companies to account. 
I appreciate the help in getting my voice heard as a food grower. We need this to be a public debate in our cities.
If these changes go through, our support of Lock the Gate would be wasted on endless clean up jobs, while the miners continue to make profits and mighty mess, skirting any legal responsibilities for rehabilitation. And I for one find that an abomination.
Miners, clean up your own mess and leave farmers and Lock the Gate alone.
Janet Fenwick,
Bulga.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The anti-same sex marriage lobby and below-the-radar bedfellows


There is not much transparency in the same-sex marriage debate ahead of the voluntary postal vote.

Take these websites which appear to have been purpose created in the last twelve months wth the deliberate aim of influencing voters on a specific issue…….

The Big Deal About Marriage at http://www.thebigdealaboutmarriage.com.au and It’s OK To Say NO at http://www.oktosayno.com.au.

These sites are registered by the Trustee for Antidote and Dean Millington according to Whois DOMAINTOOLS.

The Trustee for Antidote is a discretionary services management trust which has been operating since 2005 under the trading name ANTIDOTE Marketing and Dean Millington is a director.


The company does not appear to list any individual or anti same-sex marriage lobby group amongst its predominately pharma & health services clients.

According to Antidote website and Millington amongst these clients/business partners are:

Pfizer
Sanofi
Allergan
Novartis
AstraZeneca
Menarini
Link
Fresenius Kabi
Princeton Health
Princeton Digital
Ergo Advertising
VIVA Communications
PracticeProfiles
PharmEngage
Data Jukebox
DCM Partners
.

I wonder if these companies feel comfortable being (albeit remotely) associated with two anti-gay marriage websites which produce what are essentially simplistic, irrelevant, nonsensical or downright dubious conclusions from sometimes misrepresented data and studies.

For instance Pfizer Australia states on its own website:

Pfizer Australia employs more than 1,700 scientists, chemists, doctors, marketers, machine operators and other professional colleagues. We provide opportunities in a range of fields including medical, research and development, manufacturing, health economics, marketing and sales and regulatory affairs.
Pfizer Australia is committed to the recruitment, advancement and fair treatment of individuals without discrimination based on factors such as race, disability, sex, age, ethnic or national origin, religion, citizenship, family or marital status, political beliefs, sexual preference or other factors included in the Equal Employment Opportunity Legislation. Our Pfizer Values have ensured that this statement is more than a legal obligation. It is a way of life and a business-driven philosophy.

One suspects that this large multinational corporation would perhaps prefer to hold a neutral position on the current same-sex marriage debate in this country.

Given that these linked anti-same sex marriage websites offer site visitors a booklet written by Dr Con Kafataris, a member of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), who publicly promotes “the case for traditional and Biblical marriage” one might suspect either the doctor or the CDP financed this website.

Either way, at the time of writing this post these websites were careful to make no mention of ownership or funding details.

Friday, 9 June 2017

The optics are not good when it comes to the former Australian Minister for Trade and Investment


According to former Australian Minister for Trade and Investment & former Liberal MP for Goldstein Andrew Robb he is now in the business of providing "boutique investment, trade and major projects counsel for companies and organisation's globally, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region" through his company Andrew Robb Pty Ltd which is contactable "C/- Ellerston Capital". 

The website goes on to state that; Mr Robb is currently a Board Member of the Kidman cattle enterprise and the Network Ten television station, Chair of Asialink and CNSDose, and strategic advisor to Beef Innovations Australia, as well as a range of national and international businesses.

On 13 July 2016 the Australian Financial Review added an investment bank to the list:

Former trade minister Andrew Robb has joined investment bank Moelis & Company, where he will focus on deals with China.
Robb had announced this appointment on the same day.
By 2 September 2016 Landbridge Group Co Ltd, a Chinese corporation based in Rizhao, China, had informed the world that Mr. Robb was now a senior economic consultant with the group effective two months earlier. 


According to The Age on 6 June 2017:

The details of the consultancy have never been disclosed by Mr Ye or Mr Robb. Neither has the fact that Mr Robb is being used to spruik a Chinese Communist Party-backed trade park as part of his consultancy agreement.

Mr Ye frames much of his business activity, including the acquisition of the Port of Darwin lease, in terms of advancing Beijing's ambitious global trade and infrastructure project "One Belt, One Road".

The port's acquisition sparked a major controversy after then US president Barack Obama complained he hadn't been forewarned. The Defence Department and ASIO have vetted and cleared Landbridge's acquisition of the port. But the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, said the port deal might benefit Beijing's long-term strategic interests, and not necessarily those of Australia.

Mr Ye publicly announced on September 2 last year that Mr Robb had been appointed as a "high-level economic consultant". At the time, Mr Robb had already been working for Mr Ye for eight weeks, and had earned $146,000, including GST but minus expenses…..

In April 2016, less than three months before his consultancy agreement began, Mr Robb visited China with an Australian delegation in his capacity as Australia's trade envoy. The delegation was lobbied by Rizhao Communist Party deputy secretary Liu Xingtai to support the trade park as part of a "Two Countries, Two Parks" proposal.

"The proposal has been fully recognised and highly affirmed by the Shandong Province Party Committee, the Provincial Government and the Department of Commerce," the Chinese government statement said.

The statement also said deputy secretary Liu had met Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NT Chief Minister Adam Giles on April 14, 2016, and "proposed the co-operative model of Two Countries, Two Parks".  

Mr Ye placed Mr Robb on his payroll 10 weeks later.

Now if memory serves me correctly on 11 February 2016 Mr. Robb announced that he would not recontest his seat and the Australian Parliament was dissolved on 9 May 2016 ahead of the federal election.

As he was on his feet in the House of Representatives on 4 May and was listed as a sitting member in the Hansard of 5 May when the Budget was delivered after which all federal politicians then returned to their electorates, one can be forgiven for assuming that he did not officially retire until 9 May 2016 when the parliament was dissolved.

Twenty-three days later on 1 July 2016 (the day before the 2016 federal election day) Andrew Robb was on the Landbridge payroll according to ABC TV Four Corners 5 May 2017 transcript:

From that date, he's be[ing] paid $73,000 a month, or $880,000 a year, plus expenses.

This of course is in addition to his parliamentary superannuation lumpsum and/or periodic payments based on Commonwealth contributions equivalent to est. 15.4% of salary/wages per the Parliamentary Superannuation Act 2004 (Robb turned 65 years of age in August 2016) and remuneration for aforementioned directorships and other consultancy positions.

On 1 July Mr. Robb would have reached the end of any period in which he was eligible to receive a percentage of his base parliamentary salary as a departing MP not standing for re-election.

Looking at this timeline I wouldn't be surprised if the formal contract with Landbridge was not signed even earlier than 1 July, that the ink was probably still drying on this document when Robb told parliament of his intention to resign and stood down as trade and investment minister on 18 February 2016.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

What exactly is the Institute of Public Affairs Limited and why is it always in our faces?


What exactly is the Institute of Public Affairs Limited and why is it always in our faces?

Because this question comes up from time to time, here is a brief history of what is essentially an aggressive right-wing lobby group heavily influencing the Liberal Party. 

The Institute of Public Affairs Limited (IPA) is a Melbourne-based, right wing ‘free market think tank’ that was formed in 1943 by members of the business community allegedly for philanthropic purposes, however it only registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission on 10 June 1987. It pays no tax.

The IPA says of itself that since its inception it has been at the forefront of the political and policy debate, defining the contemporary political landscape.

It also declares that it supports the free market of ideas, the free flow of capital, a limited and efficient government, evidence-based public policy, the rule of law, and representative democracy

The Liberal Party of Australia was founded in 1944 by then United Australia Party (UAP) Leader of the Opposition Robert Gordon Menzies.

From its earliest beginnings IPA appears to have had close ties with the Liberal Party which continue to this day, with Liberal Party IPA members in the Australian Parliament. James Paterson (former IPA Deputy Executive Director) was picked to fill a Liberal Party senate vacancy and Tim Wilson (former IPA Director of Climate Change Policy and the Intellectual Property and Free Trade Unit) is the Liberal MP for Goldstein.

Other IPA members were also elected to federal parliament – Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm is in the Senate as was Family First’s Bob Day until November 2016.

Independent Australia reported on  April 2016:  

On his elevation to the senate Paterson emailed a letter to all IPA members in which he said, “I want you to know that I’m going to the Senate to fight for exactly the same things I have in my time at the IPA. I know if I ever fail to do so that IPA members will be the first to let me know where I have gone wrong!”.....

A second telling example concerns the response to the refusal in August 2014 to repeal race hate laws. As reported by Latika Burke in the Age (7/8/14) John Roskam said the IPA had “been contacted by many IPA members who are also Liberal Party members who have said they will resign their membership from the Liberal Party over this broken promise from the government,…”

It was also reported that Tony Abbott had phoned Andrew Bolt and John Roskam to inform them of the government’s decision. So Liberal party members apparently go to the IPA before protesting to their own MPs.

According to Source Watch IPA membership was originally restricted to no more than fifty-four people. However by 2009 this number had risen to 778 and now stands at 3,473 members.

For an organisation with such a relatively small membership it has an inordinately loud voice and, in its last published annual report in 2014-15 bragged that the IPA was mentioned 81 times in federal parliament, made 762 appearances in print media, 411 appearance on radio and 184 on television.

This particular annual report states that: IPA research and analysis is featured in the national media on average more than three times each day.

IPA annual revenue has been listed in the millions since at least 2008-09 and at 30 June 2015 revenue was listed as $3.4 million – with 60% coming from individuals, 20% from businesses, 18% from foundations and 2% listed as other. The organisation’s expenses at 30 June 2015 were recorded as $3 million.

A number of its donors are exceedingly generous – 64 of these unidentified donors gave between $5,000 and $49,999 each in 2014-15 with a further 15 giving $50,000+ each.

The IPA was endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) from 30 Mar 2006 and according to ABC News in February 2012:

In order for the IPA to become a DGR it had to apply to the Secretary of what is now the Federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research giving various undertakings.
Most importantly, it had to undertake to use all tax-deductible donations exclusively for scientific research, more particularly, "scientific research which is, or may prove to be, of value to Australia". In this context, the authorities have ruled that "scientific research" includes social scientific research.
The IPA also had to undertake to create a separate bank account into which all tax-deductible gifts must be deposited. The Institute's financial statements show that it keeps some of its cash in an account called "NAB Research Account". On June 30, 2010 it held $385,647.
It must also ensure that all disbursements from this research account are evaluated and approved by "a suitably qualified research committee" of at least five members, the majority of whom are appropriately qualified in the field of research that is to be undertaken or have appropriate experience in reviewing research, and who should be nominated on the basis of their "proven ability to direct a research program". As far as I can tell, the IPA has not made public the membership of its research committee.
The rules state explicitly that tax-deductible funds may not be used for "the organisation of conferences, congresses and symposia and the publication of information (other than the results of the ARI's own research work, undertaken through this program)."
All of this raises the question of whether donations to the IPA for which the donor has claimed a tax deduction are being used in compliance with the law.

The last published mention of an IPA Research Committee in 2013-14 included Professor Bob Carter, Professor Greg Craven, Dr Tim Duncan, Dr Michael Folie, Professor John Freebairn, Dr Scott Prasser and Dr Tom Quirk as committee members. So called ‘scientific’ research undertaken appears to be primarily related to its own policy platforms, including climate change denial.

Peta Credlin was allegedly an IPA staffer at one time.

Because the IPA keeps its membership list extremely private one can only speculate on its contents, however some donors, members and/or supporters have come to light over the years. These are: international media mogul Rupert Murdoch on the IPA Council from 1986 to 2000, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, columnist Andrew Bolt, former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott, former Liberal prime minister John HowardExxon, Shell, CaltexBHP-Billiton, Western Mining Corporation, Murray Irrigation Limited, Monsanto, Woodside Petroleum, Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco.

The IPA has been attacking the idea of public broadcasting for years:



The IPA apparently looks favourably on U.S. president-elect Donald J. Trump. Its current Adjunct Fellow Georgina Downer (daughter of former Liberal minister and present Australian Ambassador to the Court of St. James Alexander Downer) stating: Donald Trump's historic victory represents a huge opportunity for middle America. It is a rejection of liberal internationalism, political correctness and the progressive politics of urban elites in favour of traditional American values - love of country, family and, for many, faith. Like Brexit, it heralds a return to the pre-eminence of the nation state, of national sovereignty and democracy.

Known IPA policies in August 2012:

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don't replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
5 Abandon Australia's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
6 Repeal the renewable energy target
7 Return income taxing powers to the states
8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
12 Repeal the National Curriculum
13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be 'balanced'
16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations
18 Eliminate family tax benefits
19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
20 Means-test Medicare
21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
22 Introduce voluntary voting
23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations
24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
25 End public funding to political parties
26 Remove anti-dumping laws
27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions
28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
30 Cease subsidising the car industry
31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books
34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
41 Repeal the alcopops tax
42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:
a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams
43 Repeal the mining tax
44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
47 Cease funding the Australia Network
48 Privatise Australia Post
49 Privatise Medibank
50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
51 Privatise SBS
52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
53 Repeal the Fair Work Act
54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
56 Abolish the Baby Bonus
57 Abolish the First Home Owners' Grant
58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
67 Means test tertiary student loans 
68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising
71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
72 Privatise the CSIRO
73 Defund Harmony Day
74 Close the Office for Youth
75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

A further 25 IPA ideas to shape Australia can be found here.

Founding Board 1943:

Sir G.J. Coles CBE, H.G. Darling, G.H. Grimwade, H.R. Harper, W.A. Ince, C.D. Kemp, F.E. Lampe MBE, Sir Walter Massy-Greene (former Nationalist Party senator and former Menzies UAP Government appointee to the Treasury Finance Committee), Sir L.J. McConnan KB, C.N. McKay, W.E. McPherson, Sir Keith Murdoch, Sir Ian Potter, The Hon. A.G. Warner (later Minister in Victorian Liberal-Country Party Government).

Current IPA Board:

John Roskam, Executive Director, member of the Liberal Party of Australia, former Manager of Government and Corporate Affairs for Rio Tinto Group
Rod Kemp, Chairman, former Liberal Party senator and son of IPA co-founder
Janet Albrechtsen, Director, News Corp journalist
Harold Clough, Director, Liberal party donor
Tim Duncan, Director, former Liberal party media adviser, former Head of Australian External Affairs at Rio Tinto
Michael Folie, Director, former Shell Australia director and former Deputy Chairman of InterOil Corporation
Michael Hickinbotham, Director, South Australian property developer and Liberal Party supporter/donor
Geoff Hone, Director, lawyer specialising in company law
Rod Menzies, Director, multi-millionaire, Executive Chairman Menzies International (Aust) Pty Ltd 
William Morgan, Director,
Maurice O'Shannassy, Director, Managing Director and Co-Chief Investment Officer at BlackRock Investment Management (Australia) Limited, Chairman MWH Capital Pty Ltd

Current staff:

Darcy Allen, Research Fellow
Richard Allsop, Senior Fellow
Morgan Begg, Researcher and Editor, FreedomWatch
Chris Berg, Senior Fellow
Simon Breheny, Director of Policy
Sinclair Davidson, Senior Research Fellow
Stephanie Forrest, Research Scholar, Foundations of Western Civilisation Program
Father James Grant, Adjunct Fellow
Peter Gregory, Research Fellow
Brett Hogan, Director of Research
John Hyde, Emeritus Fellow
Scott Hargreaves, Senior Fellow
Aaron Lane, Legal Fellow
Jennifer Marohasy, Senior Fellow
Mikayla Novak, Adjunct Fellow
Jason Potts, Adjunct Fellow
Tom Switzer, Adjunct Fellow
James Bolt, Digital Communications Manager
Rachel Guy, Development Coordinator
Nina Lohanatha, Administrative Assistant
Andrew Poon, Director, Finance and Administration
Anniessa Putri, Finance Assistant
Sarah Wilson, Membership and Special Events Coordinator
Matthew Lesh, Research Fellow, Future of Freedom Program
Andrew Bushnell
Bella d'Abrera, Director, Future of Freedom
Daniel Wild
Evan Mulholland, Media and Communications Manager
Georgina Downer, Adjunct Fellow
Michael Husek

Staff in 2013-14:

Dr John Abbot—Senior Fellow, Darcy Allen—Research Fellow, Dr Richard Allsop—Senior Fellow, Morgan Begg—Editor, FreedomWatch, Chris Berg—Senior Fellow, James Bolt—Communications Coordinator, Simon Breheny—Director, Legal Rights Project, Professor Bob Carter—Emeritus Fellow, Professor Sinclair Davidson—Senior Fellow, Stephanie Forrest—Research Scholar, Father James Grant—Adjunct Fellow, Peter Gregory—Research Fellow, Rachel Guy—Development Manager, Brett Hogan—Director, Energy and Innovation Policy, John Hyde—Emeritus Fellow, Nick Jarman—Development Associate, Aline Le Guen—Editor, IPA Review, Nina Lohanatha—Administrative Assistant, Dr Jennifer Marohasy—Senior Fellow, Dr Mikayla Novak—Senior Fellow, Hannah Pandel—Research Fellow, James Paterson—Deputy Executive Director, Rob Phayer—Internal Systems Manager, Andy Poon—Director, Finance and Administration, Professor Jason Potts—Adjunct Fellow, Martin Proctor—Campus Coordinator, Anniessa Putri—Finance Assistant, Tom Switzer—Adjunct Fellow, Henry Travers—Multimedia Coordinator, Sasha Uher—Campus Coordinator, Sarah Wilson—Membership Coordinator.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Why do we still have Tony Abbott as Prime Minister of Australia? Perhaps we should blame rightwing Christian lobbyists


ABC News 16 March 2015:

ABC's Four Corners program has revealed the campaign was run by lobby group the National Civic Council (NCC), which emailed thousands of its members and associates, urging them to contact the Liberal MPs.

It follows the leak of a confidential message from party treasurer Philip Higginson pushing for Peta Credlin's removal as Mr Abbott's chief of staff.

The emails link to a live webpage hosted by sister organisation, The Australian Family Association, where almost 100 Liberal MPs could be contacted with a single click.

MPs described being deluged with emails leading up to the leadership spill.

"In the last few days the emails have been overwhelmingly flooding the office saying all this nonsense about leadership has gone far too far, and the emails are now overwhelmingly saying 'stick to the team you've got'," Senator Eric Abetz told ABC Hobart at the time.

Four Corners uncovered the campaign after a detailed instruction email was inadvertently sent to a Sydney barrister.

NCC vice president Patrick Byrne, who organised the email campaign, said it was effective.

"Our email campaign would've gone out to maybe 10,000 people; I'm not exactly sure and I don't have direct feedback, but I think it's had some influence," he told Four Corners.

One NCC email, obtained by Four Corners, warned about the possibility of either Malcolm Turnbull or Julie Bishop being elected to the leadership.

"Whatever his failings, the alternatives are Malcolm Turnbull, who failed as leader, and Julie Bishop, who was forced to resign as shadow treasurer due to dissatisfaction within Liberal ranks over her performance," one email read.

The emails credit Mr Abbott with holding the line on same-sex marriage and repealing the carbon tax.

The Prime Minister is held in high regard by the NCC.

Mr Abbott described its founder, Bob Santamaria, as, "my first political mentor", in his book Battlelines.

National Civic Council website here.

BACKGROUND

The Monthly April 2007:

In the aftermath of the Great Split in the Labor Party, in 1954-55, the Catholic-based anti-communist wing was driven out of all the states, other than New South Wales. The anti-communists, led by Bob Santamaria, then received the cold shoulder from Rome. They soldiered on, forming one of the most determined political forces in Australia. Through his organisation, the National Civic Council, and his newspaper column, his TV spot on the Nine Network and his regular contact with government ministers, Santamaria exerted the kind of influence which political activists and lobbyists these days can only dream of.