Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

DEMOCRACY IN DANGER — Declassified Australia

Upon leaving parliament, former Liberal party Defence Minister Christopher Pyne was immediately employed with corporate consultants EY Defence (Ernst & Young) to help them grow their defence business, and Adelaide-based arms industry lobbyists GC Advisory.

Brendan Nelson, former Liberal Party leader, Defence Minister, and director of the Australian War Memorial, is now president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, a top five contractor to Defence. Nelson is also on the board of defence advisory and weapons lobbyist Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Former Labor senator and chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Stephen Loosley joined the board of French arms multinational Thales Australia.

Former Liberal defence minister  Robert Hill is on the  board of German weapons-maker Rheinmetall’s Australian subsidiary, which is supplying Defence’s $5 billion of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles.

Former Labor defence minister and Labor leader Kim ‘Bomber’ Beazley joined the board of Lockheed Martin Australia and was the chair of EY Defence lobby group

State capture’ by private interests explains why, no matter which major party forms government in Australia, powerful and well-connected industries always seem to win

FELICITY RUBY and SCOTT LUDLAM16 MAY 2022 ‘State capture’ by powerful corporate and political players is a major existential threat to democracy and communities across the world. It is fast becoming […]

DEMOCRACY IN DANGER — Declassified Australia

State capture’ by fossil fuel, defence and other powerful industries is more systematic and entrenched than corruption but falls short of the definition of oligarchy, or corporate dictatorship. It exists in a distinct place in the middle, where private sector actors get hold of democratic levers to shape policy in their interest, no matter the outcome of elections. 

The World Bank coined the ‘state capture’ phrase when observing private sector actors in former eastern bloc states shaping policies to serve their narrow interests. The power comes through control over resources, the threat of state violence, or other forms of influence on the judiciary, bureaucracies and government. 

In Australia, state capture explains why no matter which major party forms government, powerful industries always seem to win. 

Fighting state capture at election time means voting for people who don’t bank cheques from the huge companies, and who are not part of the revolving door between industry and politics.

Opinion polling and the surge in volunteers working to elect independents and Greens indicate that more Australians understand that a big, uncaptured and raucous crossbench can restore some integrity to parliament and fight corporations undermining democracy.

Early in 2022, the Australian Democracy Network published a report titled ‘Confronting State Capture’ which outlined six channels of state capture: financial, lobbying, revolving doors, institutional repurposing, research and policymaking, and public influence campaigns. 

The foundation of state capture is money: using it to fund political parties, buy access to decision makers and wage third party attack campaigns. Lobbying is then used to build relationships, either through consultancies, direct CEO-Minister contact, or peak bodies.

Revolving doors, the great merry-go-round or golden escalator, sees people working as Ministers or advisers one day and company directors or lobbyists the next, providing familiarity with process and people in decision making roles. 

The mostly observable work of policy and research involves the think tanks, the ‘Big 4’ professional services consultancies, and industry peak bodies. They allow these companies to cover every Senate inquiry, every piece of legislation, and infiltrate every regulatory body – unlike affected populations, community groups or social movements.

Institutional repurposing occurs when public authorities like the CSIRO or Bureau of Meteorology, or environmental protection authorities or universities are hollowed out through placing industry people on the board, changing underpinning legislation, gradually diverting them from the public interest to serving private industry. Finally, there are the public influence campaigns that are run on traditional media platforms and social media.

Revolving doors and golden escalators

When senior public officials and politicians ‘retire’ from public service and move into lobbyist roles in industry, they take with them an extensive contact network, deep institutional knowledge, and rare and privileged personal access to people at the highest levels of government.

Their presence in the private sector entrenches the influence of industry over policymaking and government procurement decisions – decisions that should be entirely unmoved by commercial imperatives.

The ministerial code supposedly requires ministers to not lobby government for industries connected to their portfolio for a period of 18 months, and yet some politicians don’t even wait before they have left office.

In defence of the realm 

  • Former Liberal Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb on the day before his resignation, took up a job with Chinese-owned developer Landbridge, the leaseholder of the strategically important Port of Darwin.
  • Upon leaving parliament, former Liberal party Defence Minister Christopher Pyne was immediately employed with corporate consultants EY Defence (Ernst & Young) to help them grow their defence business, and Adelaide-based arms industry lobbyists GC Advisory.
  • Former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop overseeing the Australian Aid agency, became a director with private aid contractor Palladium.
  • Labor MP Mike Kelly went in 2020 directly from the powerful Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security into the arms of Palantir, a creepy US global surveillance consultancy.
  • Brendan Nelson, former Liberal Party leader, Defence Minister, and director of the Australian War Memorial, is now president of Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, a top five contractor to Defence. Nelson is also on the board of defence advisory and weapons lobbyist Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
  • The former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith, chairs the Perth-based cybersecurity company Sapien Cyber.
  • Former Labor senator and chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Stephen Loosley joined the board of French arms multinational Thales Australia.
  • Former Liberal defence minister  Robert Hill is on the  board of German weapons-maker Rheinmetall’s Australian subsidiary, which is supplying Defence’s $5 billion of Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles.
  • Former Labor defence minister and Labor leader Kim ‘Bomber’ Beazley joined the board of Lockheed Martin Australia and was the chair of EY Defence lobby group.
  • Former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had been closely involved in negotiations on the Timor Sea boundary, to the ultimate advantage of Woodside Petroleum. As an ex-MP, he established a political advisory consultancy, Bespoke Approach, which was contracted by Woodside to lobby the East Timorese government to accept the basing of Timor’s LNG processing in Darwin rather than in Timor. Downer’s former departmental head also retired and joined the board of Woodside.

It’s not just ministers who seem to struggle on the Commonwealth pension, but also senior military and intelligence heads who pick up work with their former clients.

Former Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin, exactly a year after he retired as Defence Force Chief, was appointed as ‘non-executive director, defence and national security policy’ at BAE Systems Australia, one of Australia’s top three defence contractors. BAE Systems is in the running to provide Australia’s planned nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS military pact.

  • Five months after leaving his post as ASIO chief, Duncan Lewis joined the Australian board of Thales, a French arms and security multinational and a top three Australian defence contractor.
  • Former defence secretary, head of the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) and director general of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), Nick Warner, joined the board of defence lobbying firm Dragoman Global, whose clients include French submarine company, Naval Group Australia.
  • Former defence secretary and ASIO boss, Dennis Richardson, joined the board of Vault Cloud, which provides high-security cloud infrastructure for government and critical industries.
  • Former chief of army, Lt Gen Ken Gillespie, chairperson of ASPI’s council, has joined the boards of Naval Group Australia and cybersecurity firm Senetas Corporation.
  • Retired Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib joined the board of QinetiQ, a British defence multinational that is deeply embedded with Defence’s weapons arm, Defence Science and Technology.
  • Former defence secretary Allan Hawke joined the Lockheed Martin Australia board as well as the military advisory and lobbyist group, ASPI.
  • Chief of Army Peter Leahy soon joined the boards of Codan, manufacturer of military communications equipment, and Electro Optic Systems, manufacturer of machine guns exported to UAE and Saudi Arabia, both at war against Yemen.

Fossil fuelled influence

 key weakness in the Lobbying Code is that it only applies to ministers, and has no application to senior public servants, nor to MPs who have spent years on relevant committees.

While the defence and intelligence industries are renowned for making astute appointments of former ministers and senior bureaucrats, the fossil-fuel industries are also keen to exchange personnel with governments to share the knowledge and contacts that secure their deep influence…………………………..

The use of ‘institutional repurposing’

One of the most threatening aspects of state capture is the manipulation or ‘repurposing’ of government agencies set up to serve the public interest, through a process of board appointments, legislative amendments or cultural drift.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) have been persistent targets for repurposing by fossil industries……………….

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May 16, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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