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The murky depths of links between Transfield/Broadspectrum and politics

By Tracie Aylmer

A while ago I did some research on mining companies, as well as Broadspectrum (when it was called Transfield). The research was able to link the Liberal, National and Labor parties with lobbyists, which was then linked to clients of the lobbyists. Below is what I found, at around October 2015. It would still be relevant today.

The links show the name of lobbyists and who their clients are. Someone on a page I follow shared this link several months ago in their search on Peter Reith and G4S from the time he was a minister in parliament. He received funds from G4S while still sitting in parliament. That of course is where it all started. I then did a search on “Transfield” as a client, and found this. This link has since been updated, with Broadspectrum being another of Premier First State’s clients.

When I did a search on Premier First State, I found out that MIchael Photios (an ex member of parliament in NSW government and a power force in the LNP) is a driving force of this consulting company. I found out some of his dealings, and the fact that one of his ex clients was very unhappy with him. This link shows that Michael Photios receives funds from the government as well as the client. He also donates to Liberal and the National parties, and has done so over more than a few years.

The donations of Premier First State for the 2013/14 year can be found here, and the donations of Capital Hill Advisory for the 2013/14 year can be found here. There are quite a few thousands of dollars being shifted to the political parties from both companies that Michael Photios is responsible for.

In the meantime, as discussed with Tom Coburg late last year, Transfield (now Broadspectrum) paid donations to Liberal, National AND Labor parties over the course of several years.

In a previous life I used to work in accounts clerical roles. Within the office, I was a Jill of all trades – completing reception, administration, secretarial and accounting roles over the space of nearly two decades. In addition, I also have a commerce degree, along with my postgraduate Juris Doctor. Researching where and how the transactions have taken place with the political parties, lobbyists and clients has been quite a nice challenge for me. Uncovering corruption is something that I thrive on, as I believe everyone has a right to accountability of our politicians.

When taking a closer look at how the transactions to the political parties have taken effect, I have found something worth noting. The payments to the political parties are stagnated. If one looks closely at the AEC disclosure form from, as an example, Premier First State, payments were made to different offices of the Liberal and National parties, instead of wholly going to the head office.

Whilst I am not suggesting that the donations are going directly into the politician’s pocket, one could easily assume so. Not only are the payments stagnated, but so are the dates of payment. If one can keep track of some type of success that a certain politician has given one of the clients, it could appear that the funds are payments towards successes.

After checking out Transfield, I also decided to see what effect other companies would have on policies. I researched AGL Limited, a company that has paid Labor, Liberal and the Nationals for quite some time in donations. In this, at one stage, I found that AGL had paid the Labor party twice in one day, on 31 December 2013. This rang bells in my mind, due to my previous experience in accounts payable. Large companies need a purchase order to pay an account. They do not pay without a purchase order. It would not make sense to pay the some organisation two amounts in one day unless there was a purchase order with different account numbers. Otherwise, there would have only been one payment made, even with several purchase orders for the same account.

Logic can therefore dictate that the amounts given in donations are directed towards particular politicians. Since many of the payments made can be considered to be outside of election time, it appears that the amounts given were in accordance to legislation for the benefit of the company being passed. As an example of this, AGL Limited paid both Labor Queensland and Liberal Queensland several amounts of money in January 2015. Upon reading the Hansard transcripts for the date of 26 November 2014, it appears that legislation for the benefit of AGL passed on this date. I am sure that similar amounts of funds will end up with NSW Labor, Liberal and National parties towards the end of last year from AGL, for voting for coal seam gas to operate within that state on 21 October 2015.

For Transfield/Broadspectrum, funds, the amount of donations during 2014/15 have been $0. Considering how many billions of dollars they are being paid to run the offshore detention gulags, this could be considered a strange amount. Page 5 of Transfield’s End of Financial Year to 2015 results show that they have “$17 billion in active contract opportunities in pipeline, with another $38 billion of identified leads”. In addition, the organisation believes that “Approximately 90% of H2 FY2015 revenue already contracted”. Transfield/Broadspectrum are in nearly every government portfolio, so there logically is another way for organisations to donate to politicians.

It appears that Transfield are the ones who dictate immigration and defence policy, not the other way around. They made sure that they received the new contract, because that is Michael Photios’ job. They are also ensuring that they pay little tax, as noted in their financial statement. Millions of dollars are all of a sudden going overseas, thereby ensuring that dividends are not paid to members, and little tax is paid to the ATO.

Another example is in relation to the ‘healthy welfare card’ being rolled out; I found this connection. Doing a search from the lobbyists.pmc.gov.au site showed me that this consulting company is in the ACT. The main person involved in this used to be a senior defence employee. One of his clients is Fortescue Metals for which Twiggy Forrest was very enthusiastic towards the healthy welfare card. Since this lobbyist’s job is to give the client what he wants, I’m guessing the reason why the healthy welfare card particularly targeting the Indigenous is because of Forrest.

He was particularly interested in ensuring that the Indigenous in remote communities used the healthy welfare card, with the potential that he could manipulate them to eventually force them off their land. He has used similar tactics in the past, when he salivated over land that wasn’t his, and used any and every method to force them into accepting minimal compensation. His dirty tactics are very well known amongst the Indigenous in Western Australia. Still, the healthy welfare card is now being rolled out, due to amended legislation in the Australian Parliament. Again, Fortescue is another company that does not appear to pay any donations to any political parties.

Labor is not exempt from receiving political donations from lobbyists or from other clients. While many believe that Labor only receives donations from Unions, this is not the whole murky story. It’s just that they don’t receive AS MANY donations as the Liberal or National parties do.

So basically this means that the main political parties are profiting from the organisations, and it is only a matter of time before we find out how the politicians themselves are profiting. Large multinational corporations cannot hide their donations forever, even if they are hiding from the AEC at this point in time. Whilst I understand that amended legislation should force the richest corporations to hand over their tax affairs, of course they are taking their own sweet time as they have an enormous amount to hide. Tony Abbott’s request for Ian Macfarlane to be treated kindly by the mining companies upon retirement shows there is even more evidence to sift through, when the time is right.

All of this proves that not only can we not afford corporations, but we also cannot afford the politicians on most sides of the spectrum.

17 comments

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  1. kerri

    Thank you for all of your work Tracey!

  2. Phil

    Good forensics – damned good forensics – bloody damned good forensics – friggin’ well damned bloody good forensics. Thanks Tracey.

    Now what the hell do we do with this information? Neither the LNP nor the ALP is going tho stop this gravy train. The only solution would be to end all political donations and make all lobbying fully disclosed – content, details, transcripts, reports – the whole bloody kit and kaboodle.

    So for now that leaves the electoral choice as independents (i.e. genuine ones) or the Greens. I can live with that.

  3. mark delmege

    Cheers Tracy.
    I haven’t followed your links yet but I just hope you haven’t added two and two and got 6. But on balance I don’t doubt that politics is shonky and at this time of the political cycle I keep being reminded of a certain Rug seller who laid it on very thick for me in Istanbul.

    I remember a bloke in the 1980’s who bragged about being paid NOT to have his stories published.
    Now about that Federal ICAC… a real one with teeth and not bloated with party aligned lawyers… is that possible?

  4. babyjewels10

    Thanks Tracie for putting into black and white what we’ve already suspected for many years. Have shared and shared!

  5. corvus boreus

    Federal ICAC?
    Theoretically possible but highly unlikely.

    A ‘National Integrity Commission’ has been thrice proposed as a Senate Members Motion (GRNs) since 2013, but the notion has been consistently filibustered with no vote taken bar voting not to vote immediately.
    http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=s936

    Coalition members called such a body ‘unnecessary’, Labor called it ‘premature’.
    Bill Shorten vowed to work with the government to ‘defend against the perception’ of corruption ‘in a bipartisan fashion’.

    This year a motion was raised (PUP) and voted in to form a select committee looking into the validity of instituting such a body.
    The committee comprised the PUP (Sen Wang), an INDI (Sen Madigan), 2 LABs (?) and two LNPs. GRNs were excluded.
    https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/people/senate/victoria/janet_rice/divisions/2016-02-24/4

    With the calling of a federal election the functions of this committee have subsequently been dismantled and shelved.
    http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Establishment_of_a_National_Integrity_Commission

    A federal anti-corruption body is constitutionally valid, evidentially justified and enjoys obvious public support, but is, as I say, theoretically possible but highly unlikely.

  6. Adrianne Haddow

    An excellent expose, Tracy.

    What a shame we don’t have journalists in the MSM with your tenacity and sense of justice.

    With regard to a federal ICAC, it is needed sorely as our youth become slave labour and our resources are pillaged by these grafters and their politician mates.

    It is also interesting to note that the NSW ICAC’s findings with regard to various LNP politicians in Newcastle and the Central Coast, may have named and shamed some of the players, but the developments they had approved as a result of their corrupt practices, have gone ahead anyway.

  7. Adrianne Haddow

    Sorry for the misspelling of your name, Tracie.
    I always enjoy your writing and should have taken greater care to give your correct name.

  8. Kyran

    The reference to Peter Wreath in the second paragraph has reminded me what a trendsetter he was/is.

    He trail-blazed the ‘I don’t recall, I don’t know’ defence over a phone card. A defence used increasingly by his successors.

    He trail-blazed IR with his efforts on the waterfront.
    It seems only appropriate G4S acknowledged his existence with ‘funds’. G4S is the ” the world’s largest security company measured by revenues and has operations in around 125 countries. With over 620,000 employees, it is the world’s second largest private employer, and the largest on the London Stock Exchange.”
    It is also frequently in the news for underpaying its staff, human rights abuses, fraud and signing contracts whilst unable to provide the staff, literally at an Olympic level.

    He trail-blazed blatant lying whilst promoting a ‘government agenda’ with his sterling effort on ‘children overboard’.

    He trail-blazed the politicisation of ADF personnel when he co-opted them in the promotion of that same ‘government agenda’.

    He trail-blazed the rights of the politician in seeking post political employment when he departed politics in 2001 (as Minister for Defence) and went immediately to a consultancy with Tenix, stating there was no conflict of interest or prospect of any ‘insider trading’ implications. Remember Tenix?
    “The origins of the Tenix Group were in 1956 when Transfield was founded by two Italian–born mechanical engineers, Carlo Salteri and Franco Belgiorno-Nettis.”
    “However, in a dispute between Salteri and Belgiorno-Nettis in 1995, the differences between the two families became irreconcilable and Transfield, then valued at A$733.2 million was split in two. The Belgiorno-Nettis family kept the name Transfield and the construction side of the business, while the Salteri family got the company’s North Sydney headquarters and the defence operations, which they then renamed as Tenix Defence Systems (later Tenix Defence) when Tenix was launched in November 1997.”

    It seems only appropriate Ghunt was his political successor for Flinders, a person with the same high regard for integrity.
    The reference to “The payments to the political parties are stagnated.” seems odd. Did you mean “the payments are staggered and the political parties are stagnant”?
    “All of this proves that not only can we not afford corporations, but we also cannot afford the politicians on most sides of the spectrum.”
    So well said, Ms Aylmer. Take care

  9. ozibody

    Thank you Tracie for your deep and revealing work. I’ll file this for a deeper read later today…. and whilst I’m commenting here, may I draw attention to a book I’ve just started reading (arrived at my P.O Box yesterday) …. published this year, titled ……. “The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” … ……. An updated and expanded version of the New York Times bestseller … ” Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” .

    As a starter I’ve read Pages 309 – 338 headed … ” Documentation of Economic Hit Man Activity 2004 – 2015 ” on a World scale, along with a complete list of comprehensive source links…..

    Australia ( & Tony Abbott) gain a mention on P. 328, writing about … ” Highly sensitive details of the Trade in Services Agreement ( TiSA ) …. show Australian trade negotiators are working on a financial services agenda that could end the Aust. governments ‘ four pillars ‘ banking policy ….. could also see Australian’s bank account , and financial data freely transferred overseas, and allow an influx of foreign financial and I T workers.” !!

    http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/secret-deal-bankfreeforall-20140619-3ah2w.html/

    Did I see somewhere lately, Turnbull speaking about implementing something along these lines ?

  10. corvus boreus

    Addendum to 7:11 post.

    Last month there was also another members motion (GRNs)which included a federal ICAC under a different name (anti-corruption commission) that actually made it to a senate vote.
    It was defeated ‘in a bipartisan fashion’.
    https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/divisions/senate/2016-04-19/7

    So phuqqen dodgy.

  11. Clean livin

    Forward to 4 corners?

  12. Annie B

    Everyone here who has applauded your article – I completely agree with.

    Your research, work ethic, and the way you write is exemplary.

    While your article and its contents are excellent, we have to realise ( as you have ) that no amount of investigation will ever uncover the amount of $$$$ contributed by large companies and lobbyists, to the powers that be, and to those ‘would-be’ powers. They might get away with it for xx no. of years, but not forever. However, by the time the proverbial has hit the fan, it will all be too late.

    Meantime, we the voters, have to consider how to deal with all this … ‘ independents ‘ come to mind.

    As for the likes of Transfield, its associates and any other company ’employed / contracted’ by the current government … I wouldn’t trust any of them as far as I could kick them.

    Well done – and well said, Tracie.

  13. Athena

    Thank you for your work, Tracie and for provision of some very useful links.

  14. King1394

    As a side issue, at a time when the tax deductibility of donations to environmental groups is under attack, the donations made to political parties are tax deductable. Which means that these companies lobby and grease the wheels of government in their own favour and minimise their tax bill at the same time.

  15. Lola

    Hello, broadspectrum also have the contract to maintain houses for HousingNSW. Myself and many others have had to take housing nsw to the tenancy tribunal as broadspectrum are unreliable.

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