The revolving door between the corporate world, government and fossil fuels

Contributed from New South Wales

It is no secret that far too many of Australia’s politicians and key political advisors, build unhealthy relationships with powerful big businesses interests that have an incentive to influence the political process and government.

Australia’s disclosure laws are grossly inadequate to bring out more than a small portion of what is going on. Most Australian do not like it and they recognise that favours are handed out only because those handing them out expect something in return.

This is the definition of corruption and if this is occurring in Australia on a large scale, it means that the political system is corrupt. It also means that many of our leaders are sacrificing the interests of those they claim to represent for personal benefit. We deserve much better than this.

Corruption can take the form of cash payments to individuals and political parties. We are seeing quite a few exposures of this practice right now. And it is becoming clearer that what is declared is only a small part of the total. Payers have devised many ways, to create convoluted routes to get the money to where it is intended.

The offering of other incentives is just as corrupt. Leading politicians get to mix with and know powerful people, who may let it be known that an opportunity will come their way, if they do the right thing. The growth of the corporate lobbying industry has increased the opportunities for understandings to be struck.

Politicians and especially ministers, will influenced to consider their personal interest in the making of decisions. Pressure is on to recruit selected individuals into senior ministerial and senhior staff positions.

It is customary to follow a political career by sitting on one or more company boards. The reason why companies put former politicians and former advisors of politicians on their boards, is so that they can use the network established during their political career, to provide benefits for the company.

Greater transparency is needed. Measures should be in place to detect and outlaw conflicts of interest. It should be illegal to transfer form a political career to positions that can use former politicians and senior political staff to further corrupt political processes.

Of course, it is unlikely that a corrupt political system will willingly clean itself up. This mean that exposing what is going on is important.

NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has posted the following on social media and it should be spread as widely as possible. It is only a small part of the problem. At the same time, it warrants special attention, at a time when the problem of global warming is becoming critical.

Ministers who became mining supporters

Mark Vaile

  • former deputy prime minister and leader of Nationals under the Howard Government
  • on the board of Aston Resources – now merged with Whitehaven Coal.

John Anderson

  • former deputy prime minister and leader of the Nationals under the Howard Government
  • served as Chair of coal seam gas company Eastern Star Gas (acquired by Santos)

Martin Ferguson

  • Minister for Energy & Resources under Rudd/Gilllard
  • now chair of APPEA advisory board
Those who were taken up by the NSW Mineral Council

Stephen Galilee – CEO

  • Chief of staff of the then Treasurer, now NSW Premier, Mike Baird

Scott Kennan – Director Communications

  • Media Advisor to Transport Minister Michael Costa 2003 – 2004

Emma Browning – Director Government Relations

  • Media & Policy Advisor “NSW Shadow Minister” -1997-1999

Brad Emery – Director Media and Public Affairs

  • Press Secretary Federal Assistant Treasurer, Peter Dutton MP 2004-2007
  • Advisor “Australian Government” – 2000-2004
  • Media Advisor Kerry Bartlett MP – 1998 – 1999

Sue-Ern Tan – Deputy CEO NSW Minerals Council 2008-2012

  • Senior Policy Adviser- Ian McDonald, Energy and Mining Office of the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Mineral Resources, Minister for Energy, 2006 – 2008

Ksenya Belooussova – Media Advisor at Department of Premier and Cabinet

  • Digital Communications Manager – NSW Minerals Council (2012 -2014)

Lindsay Hermes – Advisor – Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry at Department of Industry

  • Media and Communications Manager NSW Minerals Council 2010-2013
  • Media Advisor – 2013 Federal Election Liberal Party
  • Advisor to Deputy Leader of the Opposition ACT Government 2006 -2008
Those who went with with the Minerals Council of Australia

Brendan Pearson – CEO

  • Assistant Secretary Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2002-2004

John Kunkel – Deputy CEO

  • Senior Adviser, Cabinet Policy Unit Office of John Howard 2004-2007
  • Advisor to Mark Vaile, 1999-2001
  • Trade Advisor to Tim Fischer, 1998-1999

James Sorahan – Director – Taxation

  • Policy Advisor, Martin Fergusen 2010-2013
  • Policy Advisor, Chris Bowen 2007-2010
  • Policy Analyst, Australian Treasury 2005-2007

Chris Natt – Training and Education Coordinator

  • Worked for NT Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Fisheries, Minister for Mines and Energy 2005-2009

Chris McCombe – Assistant Director-Environmental Policy

  • Manager, Major Projects (Abandoned Mines Land Program) Queensland Mines and Energy 2008-2010
 Those who took up with the mining lobbyists

Liam Bathgate – Director at Australian Public Affairs

  • Lobbied for Shenua Watermark, Aston Resources (Maules Creek Coal Project) and Tenix Group
  • Chief of Staff to Barry O’Farrell 2007-2008
  • General Secretary of NSW National Party 1992 – 1997
  • Principal Private Secretary to Ian Sinclair MP (Leader of National Party) 1984 – 1987
  • Press Secretary to Doug Anthony MP (Deputy PM and Leader of Nationals) 1979 – 1984

Brian Tyson – Managing Partner at Newgate Communications

  • Lobbied for Coalpac Pty Ltd
  • Press Secretary Former NSW Premier Nick Greiner and Planning and Energy Minister Robert Webster 1987 – 1995

Larry Anthony – Founding Director at SAS Group

  • Lobbied for Shenua
  • Senior Vice President Federal Nationals 2006 – 2012

Malcolm Cole – Director of Media & Communications at SAS Group

  • Lobbied for Shenua
  • Ministerial staffer in Howard Government. LNP candidate for Moreton.

Mathew Watson – Managing Director at Repute Communications

  • Lobbied for Bickham Coal and Port Waratah Coal Services
  • Senior Communications Manager (Cabinet / Ministerial) in NSW Government 2002 – 2004

Michael van Maanen – Partner Newgate Communications 2013 – Present

  • Lobbied for Coalpac Pty Ltd
  • Adviser to the Federal Minister for Workforce Participation 2006 –2007
  • Adviser to the Federal Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 2004 – 2006
  • Policy Adviser in Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence) 2000 – 2004
Those who went with the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) 

Martin Ferguson– Chair of APPEA advisory board

  • Minister for Energy & Resources under Rudd/Gilllard

Chris Ward – Media Manager, Eastern Australia

  • Principal Media Adviser to Queensland Minister for Transport 2010 – 2011
  • Press Secretary to Federal Minister for Consumer Affairs and Small Business 2008–10
  • Senior Media Adviser to the Queensland Treasurer 2007-08
  • Senior Media Adviser to NSW Attorney and Minister for the Environment 2003–07

 Ryan Bondar – Policy and Government Relations

  • Senior Policy Advisor NSW Leader of Opposition Barry O’Farrell 2008-2010
  • Research officer Joe Hockey 2003-2004

Michael Bradley – Director External Affairs

  • Ministerial advisor to Martin Ferguson Federal Resources and Energy Minister 2008-2010

Alexandra Gibson – Policy Director, NSW/VIC

  • Advisor to Christopher Pyne 2006-2007

Damien Hills – National Associate Director, Environment & Safety

  • Senior Policy Adviser Office of the Minister for Environment and Heritage (WA) March 2001 – February 2002

Kieran Murphy – Manager Media & Communications – Western Region

  • Communications Director Office of the Premier 2005 – 2008 (WA)

Stedman Ellis – COO, Western

  • Deputy DG, WA Department of Mines and Petroleum 2007-2010

Adam Welch – Senior Policy Adviser, Western

  • Senior Policy Officer/Policy Officer at Office of Energy – Government of Western Australia
  • Executive Office at Office of Energy – Government of Western Australia

Paul Fennelly – Chief Operating Officer, Eastern Australia

  • Director-General (CEO) of Department of State Development, Trade & Innovation-General at Queensland Government

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