Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s phony grassroots group or ‘astroturfers’

The list includes several Australian organisations:

the Institute of Public Affairs (the driving force behind Australia’s skeptic movement – surprise, surprise) and

Australian Climate Science Coalition established by the

Australian Environment Foundation, itself a front group for the

 Institute of Public Affairs.

Handles like “Citizen”, “Coalition”, “National” and eco-friendly sounding names like “Earthwatch” or“Environment” abound.

In Australia, the word “Foundation” or “Landscape” is popular with climate skeptics and their paymasters (dominated by the mining lobby), to convey authority or a veneer of enviro-cred.  Examples include:

  • Landscape Guardians (also called CoastalSpa Country and other forms of Guardians, modeled on the UK’s nuclear-funded Country Guardians)

 

How to spot an astroturfer or an online fake  Independent Australia 15 Feb 12, How do you spot an astroturfer, or an online fake? Australia’s finest investigative journalist, environment editor Sandi Keane, provides perhaps the most comprehensive ever guideA PRACTICAL GUIDE TO TRICKERY & FAKERY IN THE DIGITAL AGE.   DECEPTION IS OUR PRODUCT – Part 2  Phony grassroots group or astroturfer

The following are a list of questions this writer employs when on the trail of an astroturfer. They are by no means finite, but proved successful in exposing the Landscape Guardians and the Waubra Foundation in July last year. The third part of this trilogy on “deception” will be the actual Case Studies.

History

Did the organisation appear to shoot up overnight?

When you dig down deep into a genuine community group, you’ll find real grassroots: roots that start out small and generally grow over a period of time in response to efforts and fundraising by its members. If it sprouts overnight like a weed, it’s probably not grass.

Who Benefits? 

“Following the Money” has served investigative journalists well since time immemorial. Does the campaign benefit a large corporation or industry instead of the public?

Marketing

Does the group have slick websites, attract wall-to-wall media coverage, use expensive media monitoring services and run protest meetings stacked with more “out of towners” than “locals”?  In short, is its marketing campaign the envy of other community groups?

Incorporated?

Genuine grassroots organisations choose incorporation for these benefits:

Legally, the organisation becomes an “entity”, which can open bank accounts, take out public liability insurance and enter into contracts. Its members and officers are protected from personal liability against the organisation’s debts. It also qualifies the group for government and other grants.

When an astroturfer incorporates, it is usually to mask the fiction. The difference between a real and faux group is obvious when you check their last financial statement.  A copy of this and the Application for Association Incorporation can be applied for in all states and territories (e.g. the Dept. of Justice, Consumer Affairs in Victoria and NSW Government’s Fair Trading in NSW.)  A full list can be found here.

Both provide a mine of information such as date of incorporation, number of members, address of entity, name and address of Public Officer/Secretary and the source of the group’s income as well as expenditure items.

Financials

Does it hide the source of its funding? If incorporated, it must submit an Annual Financial Return.  Does it show “zero” for both income and expenditure? If so, who is paying for advertising, resources, and so on, and why the cover up?

Members

If incorporated, how many members are listed on the Application? A minimum of 5 is generally required to incorporate. Applications showing barely the minimum number of members are less likely to be genuine community groups.

Can you join or get a list of members? If so, do its members have links to vested corporate, ideological or political interests?

Does the number of “branches” outnumber the members?

Single Issue or Cause

Environment astroturfers far outnumber any other. Genuine environment groups are broad-ranging. A good question to ask is: “is it active on multiple fronts to protect our beleaguered planet or focused on just one issue?”…..

The list includes several Australian organisations:

the Institute of Public Affairs (the driving force behind Australia’s skeptic movement – surprise, surprise) and

Australian Climate Science Coalition established by the

Australian Environment Foundation, itself a front group for the

 Institute of Public Affairs.

Handles like “Citizen”, “Coalition”, “National” and eco-friendly sounding names like “Earthwatch” or“Environment” abound.

In Australia, the word “Foundation” or “Landscape” is popular with climate skeptics and their paymasters (dominated by the mining lobby), to convey authority or a veneer of enviro-cred.  Examples include:

  • Landscape Guardians (also called CoastalSpa Country and other forms of Guardians, modeled on the UK’s nuclear-funded Country Guardians)
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February 24, 2012 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster

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