MEDIA MISINFORMATION … ARE OLDER AUSTRALIANS TO BLAME FOR BOOMING HOUSE PRICES? When will the Media be able to tell the truth?

7.30

“Given the recent horror stories about aged care, it’s no surprise that a growing number of older Australians are choosing to stay in their own homes as long as possible.

But at least one economist thinks it could be making it harder for everyone else to get a house.”

Really!

WHEN will the Media be able to tell the truth?

With so many obvious vested interests at play perhaps that explains why the Media is so scared of telling it as it is?

ARE OLDER AUSTRALIANS TO BLAME FOR BOOMING HOUSING PRICES?

RACHEL ONG, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR:

“It certainly doesn’t help in terms of housing affordability. House prices are probably a bit higher than what they should be.

I’m not trying to say that older people are just trying to hang on to the family home. And hogging space. I think the issue here is that there are very few options for older people.”

WHAT NEXT? FFS!

The Seniors who were interviewed are determined to stay in their homes because they have worked hard to buy them, all their memories are in their homes, they have their independence, and as one interviewee said:

* “I am not going to lose sleep over an economist’s statement about pushing up house prices.”

(* This comment from the gentleman in the photograph appears to have been edited out of the transcript!)

-92% of older Australians are staying put
-that is 3.4 million older Australians

FACTS:

-Australian LNP Government policies written by the developer lobby pushed up house prices locking out a whole cohort of Australians

BECAUSE:

-FIRB ruling allows developers to sell 100% of “new homes” overseas particularly in China (now across Asia)

-no Anti-money Laundering Legislation for the Real Estate Sector to prevent money laundering in Australian Real Estate

.an onshore Proxy agent can launder black money in Australian real estate

-the NSW LNP Government policies benefit developers with private certification, complying development, and rezoning our suburbs for higher density

NOTE:  This morning 19 September most comments referring to the sell off of Australian housing to foreign buyers had been filtered out on the 7.30 Facebook!

Older Australians choosing to live at home for as long as possible

Posted 
Updated 

A growing number of older Australians are doing what they can to avoid aged care and retirement homes and are choosing to live at their own homes for as long as possible.

Transcript

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CBA: Why house prices will continue to fall

By Gareth Aird, Senior Economist at CBA

Key Points:

  • Australian residential property prices have fallen over the past nine months.
  • Further declines appear likely over the next year due to softer credit growth, a continued lift in apartment supply, less foreign demand and more rational price expectations from would-be buyers.
  • We retain our view, however, that a hard landing looks unlikely and is not our central scenario.

Overview:

Australian capital city dwelling prices, led by Sydney and Melbourne, have fallen over the past nine months. The correction is occurring after five years of incredibly strong price growth. It is our view that prices will to continue to deflate over the next year as evidenced by the leading indicators. Credit standards
have been tightened and this will continue to weigh on the flow of new lending, new dwelling supply will remain elevated, mortgage rates are more likely to go up
rather than down and buyer expectations have adjusted downwards from exuberance to more sober levels.

We do not expect a hard landing, however. Population growth, driven by net immigration, is expected to remain strong. And rental growth is still positive, which
ensures yields look reasonable in a low interest rate world. We also expect the unemployment rate to gradually drift lower, which means that the risk of default is low. Against this backdrop we have the RBA on hold for at least another year. In summary, we expect the orderly deflation in dwelling prices to continue against an
economy that is performing relatively well from an output and employment growth perspective.

While predicting property prices can look foolish retrospectively, our quantitative assessment of the residential market overlaid with our qualitative views leads us to conclude that national property prices are likely to end the year down 3¼% (i.e. down by 3½% from the peak in December 2017). Further falls of around 2¼% look likely in 2019. As is generally the case, there is likely to be significant variation in outcomes by capital city. We expect Sydney and Melbourne to underperform
relative to the national average. This note discusses our outlook for Australian residential property prices and tables our forecasts by capital city.

Latest data

Dwelling prices in the eight capital cities combined fell by 0.4% in August. This was the eleventh consecutive monthly fall. Dwelling prices are down 2.9% over the year
and 3.1% from their peak in September 2017 (chart 1).

Units have generally been performing better than detached houses. Over the year, unit prices were down by 1.0% while detached houses were down 3.5% (chart 2). Units are generally cheaper than houses and the bottom end of the market is holding up better than the top (chart 3). That’s in part due to first home buyer assistance measures in NSW and Victoria that came into effect last year.

 

Why are prices falling?

Changes in dwelling prices are impacted by a variety of factors. At present, several of the factors that influence prices are working in a way that is putting downward
pressure on values.

First, although the RBA’s policy rate has been on hold since August 2016, some mortgage rates have risen. Regulatory changes introduced to slow the flow of credit to investors as well as growth in interest only lending has resulted in higher mortgage rates on some types of loans. These higher mortgage rates have dampened the appetite for credit amongst investors. As a result, the total flow of credit has fallen and this is weighing on prices (chart 4).

Second, foreign investment in Australian property has waned a little (chart 5). That is, the foreign investor share of property purchases has fallen. Controls on Chinese residents looking to deploy capital outside of China have had an impact. And the lift last year in State Government stamp duties levied to foreign investors in NSW and Victoria has dampened the overall demand for Australian property by international investors.

Third, expectations around property price appreciation have adjusted downwards. According to the WBC / Melbourne Institute, the proportion of households expecting dwelling prices to rise over the next twelve months has fallen to its lowest level since the question was first asked in late 2009.

Four, total listings remain elevated, particularly in Sydney. Five, there is a general fatigue in the market which is to be expected after such a prolonged period where
price growth outstripped income growth – there is a limit to the amount of debt that households can take on relative to income. Debt to income is currently at a record high in Australia (chart 6).

How far will prices fall?

We have developed a model that puts the annual change in national dwelling prices as a function of the annual change in mortgage rates (1 year advanced), the annual change in the flow of credit (six months advanced), auction clearance rates (four months advanced) and the house price expectations index from the WBC/MI Consumer
Sentiment survey (2 months advanced). The model explains trends in dwelling prices very well (chart 7).


Clearly, we can’t forecast auction clearance rates or the household perception around the future path of dwelling prices. But we have the latest data on both of those measures which helps us to project near term movements in prices. In addition, the flow of credit and changes in mortgage rates have historically had a lagged impact on dwelling prices of between six and twelve months. So we believe that we can forecast dwelling prices over a six-twelve month period with a reasonable degree of confidence.Our base case for property prices has them down by 5%pa in Sydney and Melbourne by end 2018. That would take the fall in Sydney prices from its July 2017 peak to around 7½%. For Melbourne, prices would be down by around 5% from their November 2017 peak. Some further dwelling price deflation looks probable in 2019 and we see the peak to trough being around 10% in Sydney and a little less in Melbourne. For Brisbane, we see prices trending broadly sideways over the next 1½ years. Dwelling prices are likely to stabilise in Perth in 2019 as vacancy rates decline and rents trough. Nationally, we think prices will end the year down by around 3% with a roughly
similar outcome likely in 2019.

That would mean the total correction in dwelling prices is not too dissimilar to the corrections of 2010 and 1989.

Table 1 details our point forecasts by capital city. They have been prepared on a no policy change basis.

Why not a crash?

A crash could be broadly defined as a fall from peak to trough of around 20%. Many international observers (and a few local ones) expect this result. But that would be a significant correction and would require a lift in the unemployment rate or materially higher interest rates. We have neither outcome in our central scenario. We see the unemployment rate as more likely to drift a little lower from here while any tightening in monetary policy is likely to be very gradual.

In addition, Australia’s high population growth rate, which is driven by a large intake of around 200k migrants each year, looks set to continue. Despite concerns being raised about Australia’s strong population growth, there is bipartisan support from both major political parties to run a big immigration intake each year. This props up the underlying demand for housing and has kept a lid on vacancy rates despite record levels of dwelling investment (chart 8). In fact, as dwelling commencements edge lower policymakers may revert to talking about a “housing shortage”.

The latest data on vacancy rates, to June 2018, has rates moving lower in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. Strong population growth is the cause.

Finally, rental growth remains positive in Sydney and Melbourne (chart 9). We don’t see rents falling in Sydney or Melbourne without a change in Australia’s immigration policy. This provides a natural floor on how far dwelling prices can correct lower given interest rates remain around historic lows.

Risks

Downside risks:

In our view there are three key downside risks to our view on property prices. First, higher interest rates. We expect the RBA policy rate to remain on hold until late 2019. But if the RBA was to tighten policy before then it would likely result in dwelling prices falling faster than we anticipate. In addition, any further material out-of-cycle interest rate hikes by the major lenders in Australia would put additional downward pressure on dwelling prices given the relationship between mortgage rates and
prices (chart 10).

Second, a reduction in the migrant intake. We are heading into an election year and there is a risk that one of the major parties opts for a different policy stance on immigration (i.e. they lower it). A decision to drop the migrant intake would reduce the demand for housing while it would have no short term impact on dwelling supply. As a result, prices would be lower than otherwise. And growth in rents would also be weaker.

Third, a change in the taxation treatment around housing. Specifically, reforms around negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount that reduce the attractiveness of property from a tax minimisation perspective would result in lower dwelling prices relative to our forecasts.

The Australian Labor Party has stated that it will reform negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount if they win government at the next election. They have not provided any specifics around timing, however.

Upside risks:

We consider there to be two key upside risks to our property forecasts. First, lower interest rates. We expect the RBA policy rate to remain on hold until late 2019. But if the RBA was to loosen policy before then it would likely result in dwelling prices not correcting as low as we anticipate. Second, any policy change to boost housing demand such as first home owner grants or lower stamp duty (to domestic or foreign buyers) is an upside risk to our base case.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT: REGISTER OF LOBBYISTS: SAS CONSULTING GROUP

 

Lobbyist Profile

Lobbyist Details

  • Business Entity Name: SAS Consulting Group Pty Ltd
  • A.B.N: 33136520548
  • Trading Name: SAS Group

Details of all persons or employees who conduct lobbying activities

No. Lobbyist Name Position Former Government
Representative
Cessation Date
1 Peter Costantini Chief Executive / Director No
2 Lisa Palu Senior Consultant No
3 John Short Principal Consultant No

Client Details

No. Client Name
1 Prysmian Cables & Systems Australia
2 ECA Master Electricians
3 BUSY at Work
4 Lives Lived Well
5 MAX Solutions
6 MATES IN CONSTRUCTION (AUST) LIMITED
7 China Telecom Global Limited
8 Yuanda Australia Pty Ltd
9 Gulf Coast Group
10 Australian Cablemakers Association
11 Sunset Power International T/A Delta Electricity
12 CNVM Investment Pty Ltd
13 St Baker Energy Innovation Fund
14 Qube Holdings
15 WorkPac Group

Owner Details

  • Peter Costantini and Julie Catherine McLennan as Trustee for the PJCInvestment Trust
  • Illalangi Pty Ltd as Trustee for the Anthony Family Trust
  • Wentworth Communications Pty Ltd ATF The Cole Family Trust

The information above was last updated on 19 Sep, 2018.

 

SOURCE:  https://lobbyists.pmc.gov.au/register/view_agency.cfm?id=227

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AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT: REGISTER OF LOBBYISTS

About the Register

 

What’s New

Changes to the Lobbying Code of Conduct

Changes to the Code and Register apply from 20 September 2013:

  • individuals who apply for registration from this date must provide a declaration that they are not members of a state or federal political party executive, state executive or administrative committee (or the equivalent body)
  • individuals who are members of a state or federal political party executive, state executive or administrative committee (or the equivalent body) at 20 September 2013, or subsequently, who were registered as at 20 September 2013 may stay on the Register until 20 March 2014

Currently registered lobbyists have been contacted directly with details of the changes. For more information see the FAQ page.

 

In 2008 the Australian Government introduced a Lobbying Code of Conduct and established a Register of Lobbyists to ensure that contact between lobbyists and Commonwealth Government representatives is conducted in accordance with public expectations of transparency, integrity and honesty.

Any lobbyist who acts on behalf of third-party clients for the purposes of lobbying Government representatives must be registered on the Register of Lobbyists and must comply with the requirements of the Lobbying Code of Conduct.

The public Register of Lobbyists contains the following information about lobbyists who make representations to Government on behalf of their third-party clients:

  • the business registration details and trading names of each lobbying entity including, where the business is not a publicly listed company, the names of owners, partners or major shareholders, as applicable;
  • the names and positions of persons employed, contracted or otherwise engaged by the lobbying entity to carry out lobbying activities; and
  • the names of clients on whose behalf the lobbying entity conducts lobbying activities.

Consistent with the Government’s commitment to keeping the Code and Register under review a discussion paper on possible reforms to the Code and Register was released for comment by the former Cabinet Secretary, Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig, on 15 July 2010. Contact the Lobbyists Register via our contact form to request a copy of the discussion paper.

See also:

Calls for investigation of National party president Larry Anthony’s LOBBYING firm

Larry Anthony: calls for investigation of National party president’s lobbying firm

Former MP owns SAS Group, which counts Santos, Delta Electricity and Indue among its clients

 

The group has previously lobbied on behalf of Santos, among others, and lists China Telecom Global and Delta Electricity as clients.

Larry Anthony, a former minister in the Howard government, is no longer registered as a lobbyist, but owns a lobbying firm.
Larry Anthony, a former minister in the Howard government, is no longer registered as a lobbyist, but owns a lobbying firm. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

The federal opposition has called for an investigation into revelations that a lobbying firm run by the National party president, Larry Anthony, was acting for energy companies and the firm behind the cashless welfare card.

Anthony, a former minister in the Howard government, is no longer registered as a lobbyist. But he remains a director of the SAS Group, a lobbying firm which counts Santos, Delta Electricity and Indue among its clients.

Fairfax Media on Saturday reported concerns about potential conflicts of interest posed by the arrangement.

Anthony told Fairfax he did not blend his political and commercial work, and had removed himself from the lobbyist register when he took the National party job.

“We do take [the lobbyist code of conduct] very seriously and we comply with it to the letter,” he told Fairfax.

The SAS Group immediately rejected the report as “baseless”. It maintained it had always acted in accordance with federal lobbying laws and the code of conduct.

“We note that the Fairfax journalist has made no allegation of impropriety, and was not able, when asked, to point to any breach of the relevant code,” the company said in a statement.

“We are unbothered by the baseless implications upon which the news story is founded. However, we are deeply offended that our hard-working staff and consultants should have their achievements debased in this way.”

Labor’s deputy Senate leader, Don Farrell, said the claims must be investigated by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“To claim that Mr Anthony removing his name from the register and claiming that he is not actively involved in direct lobbying makes a mockery of the obvious intent of the code to prevent conflicts of interest,” Farrell said.

“Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce must insist that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet thoroughly investigate all government contracts awarded to organisations represented by Mr Anthony’s lobbying firm.”

Anthony was formerly a director of Indue between 2005 and 2013, according to records from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic).

SAS Group continues to lobby on Indue’s behalf. The company has been awarded contracts for the cashless welfare card in a limited tender process.

Guardian Australia is not suggesting any link between Anthony and the tender process.

When Guardian Australia queried the tender process earlier this month, the Department of Social Services said it had awarded contracts to Indue after sounding out banks and other financial institutions about their interest in providing the cashless welfare card.

“DSS conducted thorough consultations with major banks, finance and retail institutions about the potential provision of services for the cashless debit card. These consultations indicated a lack of commercial interest in delivering a small scale trial of this nature,” the department said.

“Independent probity advice to DSS confirms that the procurement process was conducted in accordance with the commonwealth procurement rules, relevant legislation, policies and probity principles.”

The department’s version was later confirmed by Westpac, which said: “Over a number of years the government has sought feedback on the card. We indicated to the government it was not something we are interested in delivering.”

Indue said Anthony held no shares in the company at any point in its history.

“Indue is wholly owned by financial institutions, all of which have their heritage in the mutual and credit union sector,” the company told Guardian Australia earlier this month.

“At no time has any individual (or through any controlled entities) owned shares in Indue Ltd or any of its subsidiaries.”

“At no time has MP Larry Anthony or any entities he controls owned shares in Indue Ltd or any of its subsidiaries.”

SOURCE:  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/30/larry-anthony-calls-for-investigation-of-national-party-presidents-lobbying-firm

DEVELOPER ‘COUNTRY GARDEN’ Australia Boss says “We’ve done nothing wrong” over Maguire tape

We’ve done nothing wrong, Country Garden Australia boss says over Maguire tape

The 363-hectare western Melbourne site Country Garden purchased last year for a record $400 million.
The 363-hectare western Melbourne site Country Garden purchased last year for a record $400 million. Justin McManus

 

WE’VE DONE NOTHING WRONG COUNTRY GARDEN AUSTRALIA BOSS SAYS OVER MAGUIRE TAPE

 

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has added to the pressure on NSW Liberal MP Daryl Maguire to resign, as the Australian head of a Chinese property developer who was named as his client says the company has “zero tolerance” for illegal behaviour.

Country Garden Australia chief executive G.T. Hu declined to comment on the recording of Daryl Maguire’s conversation with former Canterbury City councillor Michael Hawatt, played in Friday’s hearing of an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry, that led to Mr Maguire’s resignation from the parliamentary Liberal Party and calls for him to resign from Parliament.

“I need to talk to my consultants and my lawyer first,” Mr Hu told The Australian Financial Review on Sunday. “What I can tell you is that Country Garden is a responsible company and we have zero tolerance for any illegal things [by] any employees.”

Mr Hu was asked why Mr Maguire was heard to be asking Mr Hawatt about shovel-ready sites that Country Garden could acquire in the May 2016 conversation – a month in which units surged 2.1 per cent in value in Sydney’s then white-hot market, according to CoreLogic figures.

“I think you’d better ask him,” Mr Hu said. “Because he mentioned our company. You’d better be asking him.”

Mr Maguire was not answering phone calls on Sunday. In a statement, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she was shocked by the evidence presented to ICAC and said Mr Maguire “has let down his constituents, the people of NSW and the NSW Liberal Party.”

Over the weekend she had spoken to the NSW director of the LIberal Party and asked him to seek Mr Maguire’s resignation from the party. “I am advised he has resigned his membership,” she said.

She said that while it was for Mr Maguire to decide if he should stay in parliament, “I would encourage him to think carefully as to whether he can effectively represent the people of Wagga Wagga from here on in.”

Her comments raise the likelihood of an unwelcome byelection for the government, which could trigger a three-cornered contest with the National Party. The seat is one of only a few regional seats west of the Great Dividing Range held by the Liberal Party instead of its Coalition partner. The seat is relatively safe, held by a margin of 12.9 per cent.

In a phone tap, Mr Maguire, the member for Wagga Wagga, said the developer was a “client” of his and discussed making a commission from the sale of a Sydney development site to the company.

Hong Kong-listed Country Garden, the largest Chinese developer by sales last year, entered Australia in 2013 and by 2014 was in discussions to take over Sydney-based Meriton, the privately owned business of Australia’s second-richest person, Harry Triguboff.

After some years building apartment towers, it expanded into the house-and-land market last year, with a record-breaking $400 million purchase of a 363-hectare site in Melbourne’s west. Earlier this month it said it had sold out the first stage of the planned Windemere estate.

It is unclear why the MP for a rural NSW electorate was searching for sites on behalf of a Chinese developer, but Country Garden does not seem to be the only developer with which he had links. In 2015 he visited the headquarters of Aoyuan International, the developer of Sydney’s 38-level ONE30 Hyde Park development.

An Aoyuan press release says Mr Maguire met the company’s chairman Guo Zi Wen at its headquarters in Guangzhou in southern China in November that year. The company said Mr Maguire was briefed on the company’s history, strategy and its projects in Australia during the visit.

In the recording played in Friday’s hearing, Mr Maguire told Mr Hawatt, a key figure in the current ICAC inquiry into suspected corruption at Canterbury Council, that his client was “mega big”, had “mega money” and was hungry for development sites with permits in place.

“I need a few things to feed my friends,” Mr Maguire tells Mr Hawatt in the recording. “They want 30 projects, rolling, and ideally they want something that’s DA approved, a couple that are DA approved and ready to go. How much per unit site are they asking?”

Mr Maguire then told Mr Hawatt that the commission of 1.5 per cent that the owner of the Canterbury Road development site in western Sydney they were discussing was willing to pay Mr Hawatt was not enough.

“One point five per cent isn’t enough divided by two, if you know what I’m talking about,” Mr Maguire said. “Three per cent’s a lot better.”

SOURCE:  https://www.afr.com/real-estate/weve-done-nothing-wrong-country-garden-australia-boss-says-over-maguire-tape-20180715-h12pqo

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COUNTRY GARDEN DENIES BRIBING POLITICIANS TO HELP SECURE SYDNEY AREA SITES

Daryl Maguire

Australia’s real estate market has been scorching in recent years with brokers struggling to supply an adequate pipeline of sites to both local developers and a growing cast of mainland players hungry to build more homes in Sydney, Melbourne and other major cities.

Demand from a subsidiary of China’s largest developer by sales is now said to have led to the following conversation between a pair of Australian players regarding a site in the southwestern Sydney suburb of Canterbury in 2016.

“If he’s going to give you 1.5 per cent that’s not enough,” a speaker named Maguire was revealed as saying. “1.5 per cent isn’t enough divided by two if you know what I’m talking about.”

Maguire then went on to say that three percent commission was better.

The site seeker added that he had a buyer interested in shovel-ready plots, asking a counterpart named Hawatt in a phone conversation, ““Have you got plans? Have you got the whole thing already done?”

“My client is mega-big, OK,” Maguire explained. “If he’s interested my client is mega big and has got mega money and wants two or three DA (development application) approved projects right now. Today.”

Unfortunately, for Country Garden Australia, part of Guangzhou-based Country Garden Holdings, the site-brokering was carried out by New South Wales Liberal MP Daryl Maguire and Canterbury City Councillor Michael Hawatt, and Maguire now says that Country Garden had retained him for the task.

The phone conversation was recorded as a part of an investigation by local authorities in Australia, and recordings of multiple conversations between Maguire and Hawatt were played on Friday during an inquiry conducted by Australia’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The skullduggery was reported in an account in Australia’s The Urban Developer.

Chinese Said to Have Employed Politician as Broker

Tim Lakos Country Garden

Maguire, who resigned from Australia’s Liberal party within the last week, but remains a member of parliament, was caught together with Hawatt in an investigation of the Canterbury Council regarding corruption involving a 300 unit plot in the suburb which eventually sold for A$51 million ($38 million).

Country Garden has denied any involvement.

“Country Garden Australia (CGA) takes any suggestion of misconduct or impropriety extremely
seriously,” Country Garden said in a statement today. “CGA will fully comply with and assist authorities with any enquiries into the matter, should this be required of the organisation.”

The developer added that, “The Country Garden Group has a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards misconduct across its regional operations around the world,”and also pointed out that it failed to acquire the Canterbury site.

Maguire has already told the ICAC that Tim Lakos, who served as development director for Country Garden when the calls took place, was his friend. Lakos left the developer in March of this year. The politician has also admitted to attempting to introduce developers to Hawatt in the hopes of earning commissions, but said that he never actually collected on any deals. The politician has not commented on whether he collected exclusive agency fees for his efforts or was engaged on a success basis.

Dirty Pol Served as Advisor to Chinese NGO

Beyond his stated involvement with Country Garden, Maguire, who says he intends to keep his parliamentary seat until his term ends next year, also served as an advisor to the Australia Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China, a group said to be part of China’s United Front propaganda network and as chairman of the New South Wales Parliament Asia Pacific Friendship Group, according to an account in the Sydney Morning Herald.

In May 2013, Maguire hosted a press conference inside the New South Wales parliament to assist Wang Pijun, an official from China’s United Front Work Department in promoting a propaganda exhibition of paintings about Tibet. The press conference was staged two weeks before a visit to Australia by the Dalai Lamai.

Country Garden Australia Now at Four Projects

While best known internationally for its controversial Forest City mega-project in Malaysia’s Johor state, Country Garden has a significant presence in Australia over the past four and a half years.

Just last month Country Garden Australia was revealed as having agreed last December to pay A$69.88 million to acquire a set of six plots in the southwestern Sydney suburb of Cawdor from a local family. According to an account in Australia’s Daily Telegraph, the site was revealed three months after the purchase to be part of the upcoming M9 Orbital Outer Sydney Orbital corridor, a combined road and rail link between the southwest and northwest sections of the Sydney metro area.

Also last year, Country Garden spent A$400 million to acquire a residential site in a Melbourne suburb which was already approved for construction of more than 4,000 homes. Since dubbed Windermere, the developer announced earlier this month that it had sold out the first stage of homes in the project.

In 2016 the Chinese group bought a site in St Leonards, a suburb just north of the Sydney CBD for a price of about A$45 million, after first entering the city in late 2013 with its acquisition of an A$73 million site approved for 830 units of housing from industrial specialist Goodman.

SOURCE:  https://www.mingtiandi.com/real-estate/outbound-investment/country-garden-denies-bribing-nsw-mp-in-sydney-site-scandal/

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THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT … The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet … Lobbyist Profile & Clients: Barton Deakin

Photo: Country Garden Ryde Garden North Ryde Precinct

Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, cloud, tree and outdoor

LOBBYIST PROFILE & Clients: Barton Deakin

Some clients here that may raise controversy:  AGL Energy, the multinational contractor Serco, Nucoal Resources and the wealth manager AMP.

HOWEVER, from CAAN’s campaign perspective on the loss of housing affordability for Australians while where we live is being overdeveloped … we have highlighted BARTON DEAKIN’s clients – those companies engaged in construction  including COUNTRY GARDEN!

View Lobbyist Profile

Lobbyist Details

  • Business Entity Name: Barton Deakin
  • A.B.N: 65140067287
  • Trading Name: Barton Deakin

Details of all persons or employees who conduct lobbying activities

No. Lobbyist Name Position Former Government
Representative
Cessation Date
1 Grahame Morris Federal Director Yes September 1997
2 John Griffin Director Yes February 1997
3 Matt Hingerty CEO and MD Yes June 2012
4 David Alexander Managing Director (Federal) Yes November 2007
5 Anthony Benscher Managing Director (NSW) Yes July 2000
6 Andrew Humpherson Director Yes July 2010
7 Andrew Coombe Managing Director (South Australia) Yes August 2009

Client Details

No. Client Name
1 Apple
2 Yellow Edge
3 Motorola
4 Harness Racing Australia Inc
5 Aspen Medical
6 Crown Castle Australia Pty Limited
7 The Song Room Inc
8 McDonald’s Australia Ltd
9 Australia Health Tourism Pty Ltd
10 Corning Cable Systems Pty Ltd
11 Settlement Services International
12 Citigroup Pty Limited
13 AARNet Pty Ltd
14 Heathgate Resources Pty Ltd
15 National Pork Producers Council
16 AMP Limited
17 Fujitsu Australia Ltd.
18 Honeywell Holdings Pty Ltd
19 National Association of People With HIV Australia
20 IPAR Rehabilitation Pty Ltd
21 Company B Limited
22 The ORS Group Pty Ltd
23 Opal Aged Care
24 Adults Surviving Child Abuse
25 Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
26 CHC Helicopters Australia
27 QBE Insurance Group Limited
28 Ashley Services Group Limited
29 Palace Cinemas Nominees Pty Ltd
30 Unisys Australia Pty Limited
31 Literacy for Life Foundation Limited
32 Caravan Industry Association of Australia Ltd
33 Atlassian
34 Australian Pipeline Limited
35 CUB Pty Ltd
36 Corning Optical Communications Pty Ltd
37 Palace Cinemas Pty Ltd
38 Vector Limited
39 Fincantieri S.p.A
40 Lake Macquarie City Council
41 ViiV Healthcare Pty Ltd
42 Swisse Wellness Pty Ltd
43 Global Orthopaedic Technology Pty Ltd
44 Hewlett Packard Australia Pty Ltd
45 Australian Heavy Vehicle Repair Association
46 Programmed Marine Pty Ltd
47 StatOil Australia AS
48 TAL Services Limited
49 Brandenburg Ensemble Ltd
50 Propertylink Pty Ltd
51 MAG DS Corp.
52 Community Broadcasting Association of Australia
53 Vectus Biosystems Limited
54 BSE Maritime Solutions
55 DLA Piper
56 Meat Inspectors Pty Ltd
57 Liberty House Group
58 iMove CRC
59 Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation Ltd
60 Penrith Lakes Development Corporation
61 Rent4keeps (Aust) Pty Ltd
62 Rhinosport
63 Prism Surgical
64 Device Technologies
65 LifeHealthcare
66 Cleanaway
67 DomaCom Australia Ltd
68 Work Health Group
69 Cure Brain Cancer
70 TechSydney
71 Used Tyre Recycling Corporation Pty Ltd
72 Cormorant Policy Advice
73 Bunnings Warehouse
74 Elliott Advisors (HK) Limited
75 Women’s Legal Service Queensland
76 Vanguard Health
77 EMKC Developments Pty Ltd
78 Schwartz Family Co Pty Ltd
79 Coal River Products Association
80 National Home Doctor Service
81 National Hearing Centres Pty Ltd
82 Greyhound Racing New South Wales
83 Sydney Film School
84 NSW Greyhound Breeders Owners & Trainers Association
85 Carlton Football Club
86 Leonardo-Finmeccanica S.p.a.
87 Dow Chemicals
88 Predicate Partners
89 Silk Road Commercial Pty Ltd
90 AGL Energy Limited
91 Kaspersky Lab
92 Ausgrid
93 Fullerton Healthcare Corporation Limited
94 Serco Australia Pty Ltd
95 Amazon
96 Vodafone Australia
97 Relationships Australia
98 Vietnam Nurses Action Group
99 Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia
100 DTI Corporation Australia Pty Ltd
101 GM Holden
102 MLC Life Insurance
103 Dixon Advisory
104 Lottoland (Australia) Pty Ltd
105 Medlab Clinical
106 General Dynamics
107 Tata Consultancy Services
108 Life Without Barriers
109 Australian Aviation Museum Bankstown Inc.
110 Star Scientific Ltd
111 Expedia
112 TSG Interactive Services Ltd
113 Baulderstone Consulting Services Pty Ltd
114 Gallagher Bassett
115 Marubeni Australia Ltd
116 Northside Community Forum Ltd.
117 Kentucky Fried Chicken Pty Ltd
118 Imagine Exhibitions
119 HydroSun Capital Pty Ltd
120 MS Research Australia
121 Lendlease Group Services Pty Limited
122 Nucoal Resources Ltd
123 Country Garden Australia Pty Ltd
124 Australian Psychological Society
125 JWDT
126 Bunnings
127 Brisbane Airport Corporation
128 Bingo Industries Pty Ltd

Owner Details

  • Singleton Ogilvy Mather (Holdings) Pty Limited
  • Matthew Hingerty

The information above was last updated on 12 Sep, 2018.

SOURCE:  https://lobbyists.pmc.gov.au/register/view_agency.cfm?id=338

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LOBBYIST: BARTON DEAKIN …OUR PEOPLE

AS revealed in “Australia’s Lax Lobbying Regime the Domain of Party Powerbrokers” private interests are represented by ex politicians and staffers in a system with no independent enforcement!

LOBBYIST:  BARTON DEAKIN:  Our People

Barton Deakin’s consultants collectively span decades of service to conservative governments in Australia and New Zealand.

We are former Ministers and Members of Parliament, Chiefs of Staff, Senior Policy Advisors, Senior Bureaucrats, Press Secretaries and party officials.

Many of us have deep private sector experience including in key sectors such as energy and mining, agriculture, tourism and hospitality and health.

bartondeakin

Peter Collins

Founder

Mobile: +61 (0) 409 901 137
Email: pcollins@bartondeakin.com

Peter Collins is the most prominent NSW Liberal Party identity working in the government relations industry in Sydney. He was the founding Managing Director of Barton Deakin in 2010.

Peter has a lifelong commitment to the success of the Liberal Party in NSW and around Australia.

He was Leader of the Opposition (and leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party) for more than three years from April 1995. Prior to this, he was one of the most senior ministers in the seven year Greiner/Fahey Coalition Government. He delivered two budgets as Treasurer of NSW in 1993 and 1994 and served terms as the Minister for Health, Attorney General, Minister for State Development, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Consumer Affairs between 1988 and 1993. He was a member of the NSW Parliament for more than 22 years.

Prior to entering Parliament, Peter was a barrister-at-law, working out of Edmund Barton Chambers. Earlier, he worked as an ABC television journalist, PR manager for the NSW Liberal Party and opened his own communications consultancy.

As a Captain in the Royal Australian Navy Reserve, Peter is one of the highest-ranked officers in the Navy Reserve and served a three month operational deployment in Iraq in 2007 for which he received the US Joint Service Commendation Medal.

Peter currently plays an active role in funds management and serves on several boards including holding the position of Chairman of Industry Super Australia.

Peter was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2004.

 

bartondeakin

Matthew Hingerty

CEO & Managing Director

Office: +61 2 9191 7888
Mobile: 
+61 (0) 407 220 945
Email:
 mhingerty@bartondeakin.com

Matt Hingerty is one of the most experienced political and industry figures working in government relations consulting in Australia. He leads Barton Deakin’s national government relations business and is responsible for all client quality assurance along with assisting Barton Deakin’s clients in the NSW and Commonwealth jurisdictions.

Matt’s career has spanned the highest level of state and federal Liberal/National governments and been a senior industry representative for more than 20 years. Prior to joining Barton Deakin, he worked as a Ministerial Chief of Staff for the first 15 months of the O’Farrell Government. He was also Chief of Staff to minister Joe Hockey in the Howard Government, an adviser to Peter Collins as Opposition Leader in NSW and an adviser to NSW Premier John Fahey and several ministers throughout the Greiner-Fahey Governments from 1988 to1995.

In the world of industry representation, Matt has worked as the Managing Director of the Australian Tourism Export Council, with TTF Australia and the NSW Minerals Council.

Matt has a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Business Administration Degree.

He is married with four children and lives on the NSW Central Coast. He is a member of the MacMasters Beach SLSC, the Central Coast Cycling Club, and the GWS Giants.

 

bartondeakin

Grahame Morris

Chairman, Federal Director

Office: +61 2 6108 4535
Mobile: +61 (0) 411 222 680
Email: gmorris@bartondeakin.com

Grahame Morris is one of Australia’s most respected political commentators and government relations professionals and is the head of Barton Deakin’s Commonwealth division.

He has more than 30 years’ association with the Liberal and National Parties around the country and served as Deputy Federal Director of the Liberal Party and State Director of the SA Liberal Party. He also had a distinguished career at Parliament House serving as parliamentary adviser to Liberal Leaders Andrew Peacock and Alexander Downer and as Chief of Staff to former Prime Minister, John Howard. He has worked with the Coalition on 26 state and federal campaigns around the country.

Grahame has been involved in many of the prominent public policy issues in recent years including health, infrastructure, Foreign Investment Review Board applications, tax reform and tertiary education.

Along with an encyclopaedic knowledge of politics and government, Grahame has more than a decade of experience in the corporate world having been Chairman of Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ Office of Federal Government Services, CEO of a leading issues management firm and a director at News Limited.

Prior to his careers in the political and corporate worlds, Grahame was a journalist with The Australian and regional print publications.

Grahame is a regular commentator on politics, government and the mood of the community on ABC TV and radio, Sky News and the print media.

 

bartondeakin

Anthony Benscher

Managing Director (NSW)

Office: +61 2 9191 7888
Mobile: +61 438 439 431
Emailabenscher@bartondeakin.com

Anthony Benscher is a highly experienced corporate and government affairs practitioner with a strong history in government, the corporate sector and in management consulting.

Anthony is Managing Director of Barton Deakin’s NSW division, also working with corporate clients in the Federal Government sector.

Anthony joined Barton Deakin from the NSW Government where he served as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Family and Community Services from the election of the O’Farrell Government until mid 2013.

Earlier Anthony was a senior policy and communications adviser to John Howard for seven years, from 1993 to 2000, when John Howard was a Shadow Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister of Australia.

In the corporate sector, Anthony was a senior executive for Packer family companies Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) and Consolidated Private Holdings (CPH) and worked as a business development and management consultant in sectors including health for more than six years.

Anthony completed a full-time MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management where he won competitions in entrepreneurship and marketing strategy and was elected to the AGSM Faculty Board and AGSM Student Council. Anthony also holds a Bachelor of Economics and Masters in Public Policy from Sydney University.

 

bartondeakin

The Hon. Katrina Hodgkinson

Director Corporate Counsel

Mobile: 0428 278 141
Email: khodgkinson@bartondeakin.com

Katrina brings a wealth of experience and contacts to the Barton Deakin team, gathered over 30 years in both the private and public sectors.

Katrina Hodgkinson is one of the most respected and experienced former National Party Ministers of the NSW Parliament, with over 20 years’ experience in in both state and federal parliaments.

Katrina has been involved in election campaigns at a state and national level for decades.  She was NSW’s first female Minister for Primary Industries (including Lands and Water) over a four year period in the O’Farrell and Baird Coalition Governments, responsible for overseeing major reform of primary industries government agencies.  Katrina was also Minister for Small Business and Assistant Minister for Tourism and Major Events, as well as the first Parliamentary Secretary for Southern NSW.

In Opposition Katrina served as a Shadow Minister in a number of portfolios including Natural Resource Management, Tourism and Major Events, Community Services, Families & Child Safety, Small Business, Fair Trading and Rural Affairs.

Prior to entering parliament, Katrina served as a Ministerial Adviser to Senator the Hon. Nick Minchin in diverse areas including natural resources, science, native title and the Constitutional Convention.  Katrina also has more than a decade of experience owning and operating her own retail small businesses.

 

bartondeakin

Jenna Raeburn

Director (NZ)

Office: +64 4 495 3745
Mobile: +64 21 249 9769
Email: jraeburn@bartondeakin.com

Jenna Raeburn is the founding director of Barton Deakin’s New Zealand division.

Prior to joining Barton Deakin, Jenna worked in several senior political roles in the John Key Government dating back to its first term in office. Most recently, she was a Ministerial Adviser to Gerry Brownlee, the third ranked Cabinet Minister in New Zealand. In this role she had the significant task of advising on all aspects of the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery portfolio.

As a Ministerial Adviser she has worked across a range of other portfolio areas including local government, insurance, tourism, government ICT, censorship, citizenship and transport. She had exposure to a large range of government procurement projects, particularly in the construction and ICT industries.

Prior to her role in Gerry Brownlee’s office, Jenna worked with Cabinet Minister Chris Tremain, and as a researcher in the office of the National Party Leader John Key. Her breadth of experience has given her a deep knowledge of the people, policies and priorities of the New Zealand Government.

Jenna is also an active National Party member and worked on both the 2011 and 2014 election campaigns that re-elected the National Government. In 2011 she was a member of the campaign team travelling with John Key. In 2014 she was Campaign Manager for the Hutt South electorate, where National slashed the incumbent Labour MP’s majority from 4800 to just over 700, making it the second most marginal seat in the country.

Jenna was educated at Victoria University of Wellington. She holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science.

 

bartondeakin

Andrew Humpherson

Director

Office: +61 2 9191 7888
Mobile: +61 419 241 587
Email: ahumpherson@bartondeakin.com

Andrew Humpherson has over three decades’ experience of government relations in federal, state and local government environments.

Most recently, he served as chief of staff to the Minister for Resources and Energy in the O’Farrell/Baird Government.

Prior to this, Andrew was the Member for Davidson in the NSW Parliament for 15 years and served as a Shadow Minister for eight years with portfolio experience spanning planning, environment, justice and corrections, housing, water, community services and emergency services.

Prior to being elected to parliament he spent five years as a local councillor including a term as Deputy Mayor of the Warringah Shire Council.

On leaving elected politics, Andrew managed the corporate affairs division for Australia’s nuclear agency, ANSTO.  He has also spent time consulting across diverse sectors in his own government affairs business and held corporate positions with multinational energy companies. He has strong experience in issues management and crisis communications including with coal seam gas and radioactive waste.

Andrew brings to Barton Deakin’s clients a deep understanding of politics with extensive senior networks across politics at state and federal levels with a particular emphasis on the minerals, energy and development sectors.

He has commentated on elections and been involved in election campaigns since he was 13 years old. He is a keen representative touch footballer and snow skier, has coached junior sport and been patron of many community organisations as well as holding voluntary sporting body executive positions.

 

bartondeakin

John Griffin

Director (Vic)

Office: +61 3 9034 3034
Mobile: +61 (0) 419 901 159
Email: jgriffin@bartondeakin.com

John Griffin is one of Australia’s most experienced government relations and political strategy advisers and is highly sought-after in both the corporate and political arenas.

As head of Barton Deakin’s Melbourne office, he advises Barton Deakin’s corporate clients on their working relationship with the Victorian Opposition. Given his extensive federal experience, John also assists Melbourne-based clients with their Federal Government work.

John has more than 30 years’ history as an adviser to Coalition governments and oppositions in Canberra and Victoria. In the federal political arena John has served as Legislative Assistant to Senator Robert Hill, Private Secretary to the Hon. John Howard during his first period as Opposition Leader, Parliamentary and Policy Consultant to the Liberal Party Federal Secretariat and as Senior Private Secretary to Dr John Hewson where he and Tony Abbott were colleagues.

After working on the Victorian Coalition’s successful 1992 state election campaign, John was appointed Chief of Staff to the Hon. Jeff Kennett and served in that position for five years, including Mr Kennett’s successful 1996 re-election campaign.

Since 1997, John has been a successful government relations and issues management adviser to a variety of Australian and international corporations. He has also advised government agencies and private sector companies in the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain.

John has continued to assist the Liberal and National Parties on a number of state and federal election campaigns as a senior political strategist and policy adviser including playing a key role in the successful 2013 federal election campaign.

 

bartondeakin

David Alexander

Managing Director (Federal)

Office: +61 2 6108 4535
Mobile:
 +61 (0) 457 400 524
Email: 
dalexander@bartondeakin.com

David Alexander is the Managing Director of Barton Deakin’s federal division. He lives and works in Canberra and takes primary responsibility for economic, finance, tax and regulatory matters with Barton Deakin’s federal clients.

David was one of the most senior advisers in the office of the Hon Peter Costello during his time as Treasurer of Australia. He was part of the famous Tax Reform Implementation Unit which oversaw the introduction of the GST in the Howard Government’s largest and most important economic reform, and worked for the Treasurer until the end of the Howard government in 2007.

After leaving politics, David was the economics editor of the Canberra Times and later national director of industry policy for Master Builders Australia where he authored a major report on housing infrastructure taxes.

David’s understanding of federal tax, finance and economic policy is widely recognized. He also has extensive experience working in other portfolio areas such as defence, health, education and transport.

David is also a keen writer on economic and policy matters, having contributed to major Australian newspapers, Quadrant magazine, Policy magazine, the Spectator, and Conservative Home (in the United Kingdom).

 

bartondeakin

Andrew Coombe

Managing Director (SA)

Office: +61 8 8130 1911
Mobile: 
+61 (0) 404 566 592
Email:
 acoombe@bartondeakin.com

Andrew is an experienced political operative who has worked at both Federal and State levels. Andrew was born in Adelaide and like many explored the country and the world before returning to Adelaide in 2002 to take up the role as News Director at Channel Seven news.

Andrew worked for senior Howard Government Minister Andrew Robb before turning to state politics in 2010. Andrew was Chief of Staff to the Opposition Leader before working with Telstra  Corporate Affairs. Most recently he was the Director of Policy and Strategy to the former Opposition Leader, now SA Premier, Steven Marshall.

Andrew has a thorough understanding of the workings of the South Australia Government and its relationship with the community, stakeholders and the media and knows how to get things done.

He is widely regarded for his understanding of the processes and structures of modern political offices.

2018 presents businesses and industry with unique opportunities to work with the South Australian Liberal Government to build South Australia. Andrew is ideally placed to help you achieve your goals.

 

bartondeakin

Kerrod Gream

Policy and Business Analyst

Office: 02 9191 7888
Mobile: +61 411 260 463
Emailkgream@bartondeakin.com

Kerrod is a Policy and Business Analyst based in Barton Deakin’s Sydney office.  He is part of a national team of analysts providing insight into government activity of interest to the business and peak organisation community and supporting the work of Barton Deakin’s directors.

Prior to joining Barton Deakin Kerrod worked as an electorate officer for Jason Falinski in the seat of Mackellar. Kerrod has previously worked as an independent consultant in government relations.

Kerrod served as a Councillor for the Economic Society of Australia NSW Branch for the 2016-17 financial year and served as Chairman of Australia and New Zealand Students for Liberty in 2015.

Kerrod has been an active member of the Liberal Party since 2012 and has been involved in numerous campaigns.

Kerrod has completed a Bachelor in Economics majoring in Economics and Commercial Law from the University of Sydney.

 

bartondeakin

Robert Bower

Policy and Business Analyst

Office: 02 6108 4535
Mobile: +61 430 036 667
Email: rbower@bartondeakin.com

Robert Bower is a full-time Policy and Business Analyst in Barton Deakin’s Canberra office. He provides research and insights into government activity of interest to the business and peak organisation community, and administrative support to Barton Deakin’s directors.

Prior to joining Barton Deakin, Rob worked as a Membership Officer and Administrative Assistant for the ACT Liberal Party, a Google Experience Manager, and as a Support Officer in the ANU Services’ Improvement Group.

Additionally, Rob has lead a student engagement team for a mental health non-profit, worked in remote Indigenous communities, and provided management consultancy services to a number of Canberra non-profits. He has also held a number of leadership positions in ANU’s residential colleges and student societies, and is an Associate Fellow at Toad Hall.

Rob is an active member of the Liberal Party and has held roles on the ACT Young Liberal Executive, the ALSF Federal Executive, and ACT Interest Branch Executives. He has actively volunteered on local, state, and federal election campaigns, including the West Australian State Election and the 2017 New Zealand General Election.

Robert is completing a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science and Philosophy) at the Australian National University.

SOURCE:  https://bartondeakin.com/our-people/

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Australia’s lax LOBBYING REGIME the domain of party powerbrokers

Parliament House:  Photograph: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

Parliament House

The absence of any real enforcement of a Lobbyist Code sends a clear message to the Australian People … to be alert to this because Lobbyists do not need to pay too much attention to “THE CODE” and nor worry about the REGISTER … they can skirt it!  

And the Federal Register is online, and lacks useful detail!

Begs the question how many “UNREGISTERED LOBBYISTS” walk the halls of our Parliaments and the backrooms?

Are they too infiltrating the community … gathering information?

AUSTRALIA’s LAX LOBBYING REGIME THE DOMAIN OF PARTY POWERBROKERS

Private interests are represented by ex-politicians and staffers in a system with no independent enforcement

• Making Australian politics transparent – and how you can help

Christopher Knaus and Nick Evershed

Mon 17 Sep 2018

Canberra’s lobbying regime is not completely transparent and is poorly enforced. 

Big business is gaining almost unfettered access to the corridors of Australia’s parliament owing to an oversight regime that is weak, unenforced, opaque and unable to keep track of the revolving door between lobbying and government.

‘In the family’: majority of Australia’s lobbyists are former political insiders

A Guardian Australia investigation will this week reveal serious failings in the system governing political lobbying, while for the first time exposing the true extent to which ex-politicians, staffers and public servants are now lobbying for private interests.

An exhaustive analysis of the backgrounds of 483 registered lobbyists has revealed that more than half were previously inside government, the bureaucracy or party organisations. One-quarter have worked inside the offices of ministers or backbenchers.

In some cases, defence officials are leaving their posts to help arms manufacturers vie for lucrative government contracts, or senior advisers are leaving health or resources ministers to lobby for big pharmaceuticals or mining giants.

AJ Brown

Professor AJ Brown says the lobbying system is ineffectual, without independent enforcement.

One of Australia’s leading integrity academics, Prof AJ Brown, said the current oversight regime – a lobbying code of conduct and public register – fails to guarantee that the public interest will be preserved in government decision making.

“Especially without independent enforcement, it really is the worst kind of window-dressing, because it’s not even a window with glass in it. It’s just an empty frame,” the Griffith University professor said.

Guardian Australia is today launching the Transparency Project, a one-stop shop to help Australians investigate government integrity and work with reporters to hold the government to account.

It has also examined powerbrokers across all major parties who simultaneously hold positions with lobbying or peak interest groups.

Top Nationals pair hold senior roles at big-business lobby firms

The latest is the newly appointed National party federal vice-president, Katrina Hodgkinson, who at the same time works for one of Australia’s largest lobbying firms, Barton Deakin. Barton Deakin’s clients include AGL Energy, the multinational contractor Serco, Nucoal Resources and the wealth manager AMP.

Hodgkinson was registered as a Barton Deakin lobbyist but removed herself from the register when she nominated for the Nationals’ vice-presidential role. She remains the firm’s corporate counsel but says her work is “internal and advisory in nature”.

There is no suggestion that Hodgkinson has acted improperly or breached the lobbying code.

Last year concerns were raised about the current Nationals federal president, Larry Anthony, who co-owns a consulting firm, SAS Group. The group has previously lobbied on behalf of Santos, among others, and lists China Telecom Global and Delta Electricity as clients.

Anthony also rejects any suggestion of impropriety or a breach of the lobbying code.

“We note that while there has been some media interest over the last 12 months in Larry Anthony’s volunteer role as federal Nationals president, there has been no allegation of impropriety made against him or the firm in that time,” an SAS Group spokesman said.

The issue is not unique to the Nationals. The former Labor minister Stephen Conroy holds positions on the party’s national executive and Victoria’s public office selections committee, a preselection body to which he was recently re-elected.

Conroy is also the executive director of gambling lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia. He has breached no rules – either of the party, or federal or state lobbying codes – because he does not meet the definition of a lobbyist. Further, Conroy says he has not attended meetings of the executive or committee for about 18 months, instead using a proxy.

Ethical lobbying plays a critical role in the functioning of a healthy democracy, and there’s no evidence that the majority of registered lobbyists are doing anything other than complying with the rules.

*If you don’t need to worry about the code and you don’t need to worry about the register, then you just skirt it

George Rennie, academic

But anti-corruption advocates, integrity experts and former crossbenchers all agree that the rules are fundamentally flawed. Even the rules that exist, weak as they are, are rarely enforced, experts say.

The lobbying expert and University of Melbourne academic George Rennie said the sector in Australia was effectively self-policed. The absence of any real enforcement, he said, sent a clear message.

“The message that I think it sends to lobbyists is that you don’t really need to pay too much attention to the code, you don’t need to worry about the code,” Rennie told Guardian Australia.

“And if you don’t need to worry about the code and you don’t need to worry about the register, then you just skirt it. You don’t bother with it.”

Federally, the only window into the world of lobbying is the online lobbyist register, which lacks useful detail.

Making Australian politics transparent – and how you can help
Read more

* Unlike some state, territory and foreign jurisdictions, federally registered lobbyists have no obligation to tell the public who they have lobbied, on what subject and when.

Danielle Wood, a Grattan Institute researcher who has studied lobbying extensively, said this left Australians with “almost no visibility”.

“There is a case for much greater transparency: federal government ministers should be required to publish their diaries,” she said. “If there’s nothing to hide then the public would be reassured that their elected representatives are consulting widely, and if they aren’t, it places a pretty strong incentive on them to do better.”

Jacqui Lambie

Jacqui Lambie

Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Former independent senator Jacqui Lambie says the major parties don’t want to ‘change the rules’.

Lobbyist registers, with the exception of Victoria, remain completely blind to the actions of in-house lobbyists, who are employed directly by large corporations and peak bodies to represent their interests to governments.

The former Tasmanian crossbencher Jacqui Lambie said that left hundreds of in-house lobbyists largely free to walk the halls of parliament without any semblance of scrutiny.

“There’d be hundreds of them. They’re not playing a straight bat,” Lambie said. “[The major parties] don’t want to know about it – Labor and Liberals are as bad as each other. They don’t want to change the rules because it hurts both of them.”

The federal code of conduct, designed to maintain ethical standards of behaviour, was introduced in 2008, championed by the Labor senator John Faulkner – despite stiff resistance from the lobbyist sector and many within parliament.

It was a huge step up from an almost non-existent oversight regime.

The group that represents Australian lobbyists, both third-party and in-house, says it still supports the code. The Australian Professional Government Relations Association president, Les Timar, said the current regime was “characterised by high levels of compliance and operates effectively” to ensure basic ethical standards.

Timar does, however, want to see the code applied to everyone who approaches government, not just lobbyists. He also wants an improved sanctions regime for those who misbehave.

“We support these arrangements as a balanced and reasonable set of measures to provide public confidence in the activities of consulting government relations practitioners,” Timar said.

Independent oversight, monitoring and enforcement is urgently needed
Serena Lillywhite, Transparency International Australia

“While APGRA does not agree with the suggestion that the code of conduct is weak or unenforced, there are some areas where the code of conduct could be improved.”

The code is not overseen by an independent agency. Federally, is it loosely governed by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which takes on a largely administrative role and has been instructed by the government to deliver only a “low level of compliance activity”. Even if the department was to take enforcement action, it can do little more than remove a lobbyist from the register.

In the US, Canada and UK, authorities can issue fines for breaches of lobbying laws.

In Canada, an independent commissioner has the power to investigate potential breaches of the rules, including by third-party and in-house lobbyists.

https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/eic/site/012.nsf/eng/00884.html

Punishments of fines or jail time can be handed to lobbyists who fail to register or who make false or misleading statements about their activities.

The US has strict, legally enforceable cooling-off periods designed to stop individuals leaving government and immediately lobbying their old place of work.

Australia has a 12-month cooling-off period for senior public servants and military figures, but it only bars them from directly lobbying on issues that they have had formal dealings with while in government. The ban is 18 months for ministers and parliamentary secretaries. There is no real significant punishment in the code for breaching the cooling-off period.

Transparency International Australia’s chief executive, Serena Lillywhite, said the existing checks and balances on lobbying were “insufficient”.

“Independent oversight, monitoring and enforcement is urgently needed in response to growing community concerns about undue influence and a decline in trust and confidence in government,” Lillywhite said.

“The cooling-off period for when a minister or parliamentary secretary can lobby in their portfolio should be extended to a minimum of two years, to bring Australia more in line with international best practice. But most importantly, this needs to be independently monitored and enforced.

“In general, greater transparency of meetings with government officials, politicians and ministers is needed – regardless of where these meetings take place.”

• This reporting is supported by the Susan McKinnon Foundation through the Guardian Civic Journalism Trust

 

The Transparency Project

SOURCE:  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/sep/17/australias-lax-lobbying-regime-the-domain-of-party-powerbrokers

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