Australia: The revolving door between politicians and the mining lobbyPublished by MAC on 2016-03-10
Source: The Guardian
Eastern Star Gas, Whitehaven Coal, AGL Energy, Adani and BHP Billiton are some of the companies that fund the revolving door between politicians and the mining and gas lobby in Australia, according to Queensland Greens' Senator Larissa Waters.
Ban donations from mining companies and stop ministers working for them
The extractive industry’s influence on politics is disproportionate to the contribution the sector makes to employment, writes Senator Larissa Waters.
1 March 2016
In Australian politics, there is a revolving door that swings round and round, fuelled by money and self-interest.
Into it go former politicians and their staffers and out pop even more highly paid mining company executives and fossil fuel lobbyists.
The list of former politicians and staffers who’ve scored cushy positions in the fossil fuel sector is depressingly long – I’ve listed just some of them that I’m aware of below.
The revolving door in part explains why there has never been a coal mine or gas project refused under our federal laws.
The massive political donations, made by this desperate industry trying to cling on through taxpayer subsidies, make up another reason for the tick-and-flick approach.
A very generous $3.7m was tipped into the pockets of the federal Liberal, National and Labor parties in the last three years – and much more when you include donations made at branch and state levels.
Such large amounts of money buys influence, and buys favourable policy settings for this dying industry. For every dollar of their $3.7m contribution to the election warchests of the big parties, they get more than $2,000 back from the taxpayer purse.
They get cheap fuel for their trucks and generators, accelerated depreciation on their assets and a tax break to do production and exploration, along with direct cash handouts.
If you tally that up, you get about $14bn over four years. The Greens have put forward a costed proposal to remove those handouts and raise much needed revenue for health, education and clean energy.
Because why should taxpayers pay $14bn to companies that are cooking our planet, ruining our land and water, tearing apart communities and threatening locals’ health?
Why indeed, when there are clean energy alternatives that are more job rich, have a long term future in the transitioning global economy, and don’t wreck the place?
The influence of these pervasive fossil fuel donations on our political system has left the job-rich clean energy industry to deal with the investment uncertainty created by a government ruled by climate dinosaurs.
And despite the change of prime minister and the talk of agility and innovation, the revenue-positive Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which supports cutting-edge, genuinely innovative technology, are both on the Turnbull government’s chopping block.
Now is the time to be increasing public investment in job-rich clean energy to take advantage of the global transition that is already happening, while Australia is missing out.
The revolving door between politicians and the mining lobby needs to be slammed shut and political donations from fossil fuel companies must come to an end.
The Greens have legislation before the Senate to ban donations from fossil fuel companies, as well as property developers and the tobacco, liquor and gambling industries in the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Donations Reform) Bill 2014.
It’s also our policy to tighten the rules, including by establishing a commissioner of lobbying, an independent body similar to the one in Canada, which would have audit and investigative power, and imposing a five-year ban on ex-ministers working as lobbyists.
The revolving door
- Former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister John Anderson became chairman of Eastern Star Gas, the company behind the Narrabri Gas Project (which is now owned by Santos) about two years after leaving politics.
- Former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister Mark Vaile became a director and then chairman of Whitehaven Coal.
- Former Labor resources minister Martin Ferguson became chairman of the APPEA Advisory Board – in October 2013 – just six months after he stopped being the minister. (The lobbying code of conduct requires an 18-month cooling-off period for ex-ministers).
- Craig Emerson, a former federal Labor trade minister went on to be a consultant for and Santos.
- Former foreign minister Alexander Downer was at one point a registered lobbyist with Bespoke Approach, which included the likes of Woodside Petroleum, Xstrata, Petrochina and Yancoal among its clients.
- Greg Combet, the federal Labor climate change minister, went on to be a consultant to AGL Energy and Santos.
- Bill Shorten’s current chief of staff, former Queensland Labor state secretary Cameron Milner, has also worked with Adani. He was director of Milner Strategic Services & Next Level Holdings, which is co-owned by former Liberal staffer David Moore and was reportedly providing advice to Adani on the controversial Adani Carmichael coal project.
- Ben Myers worked for Queensland Gas Company, and went on be Queensland LNP premier Campbell Newman’s chief of staff.
- Mitch Grayson worked as a staffer for Queensland LNP premier Campbell Newman in 2012 and, by early 2013, had joined Santos. Later, he re-joined Premier Newman’s office.
- Stephen Galilee, who worked as chief of staff to Ian Macfarlane as Liberal federal resources minister for three years, and chief of staff to Mike Baird as NSW treasurer and shadow treasurer, went on to be CEO of the NSW Minerals Council.
- Geoff Walsh, former adviser to Labor prime ministers Paul Keating and Bob Hawke, and a former national secretary of the Labor party, was made director of public affairs at BHP in 2007.
- Claire Wilkinson, spent a year as a senior media adviser for Labor resources minister Martin Ferguson before getting a job as a senior external affairs adviser for Royal Dutch Shell. She is now at Total E&P.
- Brad Williams, who spent four years as Mark Vaile’s chief of staff, went on to become the manager for government affairs at Inpex – an oil and gas company that has approval for a $34bn LNG project near Darwin. He is now working in government relations at another mining company, South32.
- Shaughn Morgan worked as adviser to Jeff Shaw, NSW Labor’s attorney general, before becoming the manager of government and external relations at AGL.
- Lisa Harrington was a senior adviser to Mike Baird before becoming the head of government relations at AGL Energy.
- Sarah Macnamara worked at AGL before becoming chief of staff to federal Liberal resources minister Ian Macfarlane, and was resource policy adviser to Liberal PM Tony Abbott.
- Robert Underdown was senior adviser to Liberal resources minister Ian Macfarlane before becoming the manager of the government and public policy group at Santos.
- Caroline Hutcherson was senior media adviser to the then Liberal NSW resources minister Chris Hartcher before working as a senior adviser to Santos, and going on to work as a senior adviser to NSW Liberal premier Mike Baird.
- Alexandra Gibson was an adviser to Christopher Pyne, before becoming a policy adviser to APPEA, the oil and gas lobby group.
- Paul Fennelly was the director of the Queensland Department of State Development, Trade and Innovation before becoming the CEO of APPEA.
- Chris Ward was an adviser to the Queensland treasurer and to the consumer affairs minister in the federal Labor government under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, before taking a job as media manager at APPEA.
- Charles Perrottet was senior media adviser to the then Liberal NSW resources minister Chris Hartcher, then an executive of the NSW Liberal party before becoming a government affairs analyst at BP Australia.
- Andrew Humpherson was chief of staff to the then Liberal NSW resources minister Chris Hartcher before working as a consultant to the NSW Minerals Council.
- Emma Browning was a media adviser for the then Liberal NSW resources minister Chris Hartcher before becoming director of government relations at the NSW Minerals Council.
- Brad Emery was a media adviser to federal Liberal minister Peter Dutton before working as director of media and public affairs at the NSW Minerals Council.
- Chris Rath was media and public affairs manager at the NSW Minerals Council before working as an adviser to NSW Liberal resources minister Anthony Roberts.
- Lindsay Hermes was media and communications manager at the NSW Minerals Council before working as an adviser to federal Liberal resources minister Ian Macfarlane.
Queensland Senator Larissa Waters is the Australian Greens deputy leader and climate change spokesperson.