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Tag Archives: Mark Textor

The puppet masters

Image by The Australian

Image by The Australian

Before the time of Gough Whitlam, the public service were largely responsible for the formulation and co-ordination of policy and senior public servants made the important decisions.  The Prime Minister had a single press secretary and ministers of the Crown relied on a very small staff to perform administrative and secretarial duties.

Whitlam created an office employing political staff to help strengthen an executive administration to formulate and implement policies.  This continued under successive Prime Ministers with Howard overseeing an expansion of political staff in the Australian government to about 450 and the establishment of a government staff committee to take a tight reign over staff appointments.

As Nicholas Reece points out in the SMH

“TV programs such as The West Wing, In the Loop and The Hollowmen reflect the shift that has occurred in the balance of power in government from public servants to political staffers compared with the days of Yes Minister.”

And amongst these staffers, Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, has arguably achieved more power than any of her predecessors.  She and her husband Brian Loughnane run the Star Chamber with an iron fist, deciding who gets what job, who may speak to the media and when, and dictating what people will be told, much to the chagrine of Coalition backbenchers like Senator MacDonald.

Reece goes on to say:

“Credlin holds the ultimate backroom role in Australian politics.  Despite her extraordinary power, she does not hold an elected position. She is not appointed by the cabinet, nor is she directly subject to the scrutiny of Parliament. And she does not do press conferences that would allow open questioning by journalists.”

Unless of course, it’s to make the bizarre disclosure that Abbott “allowed” her to keep her IVF drugs in his office fridge.  For a very private woman, that was a very private thing to share publicly.

Not only do we have unelected, unaccountable, often inexperienced, staffers dictating policy, we also are paying a fortune to media spin doctors for them to sell their wares.

In August 2012, the Australian reported that

“TAXPAYERS are spending about $150 million a year on an army of spin doctors to sell the Gillard government’s policies to voters.

Figures obtained by The Australian reveal there are about 1600 staff employed by federal government departments and agencies in media, communications, marketing and public affairs roles.

Opposition Senate leader Eric Abetz seized on the figures to accuse Labor of focusing on spin over substance and vowed to cut the numbers if in government.

Senator Abetz said he believed it would cost taxpayers an average of about $100,000 a year to keep each staff member in their job, once salary, entitlements and equipment were factored in. He said a Coalition government would cut the numbers.

“This is literally a battalion, if not an army, of spin doctors.  What this highlights yet again is the government’s concentration on spin. They do get the initial message out very well, but the policy underpinning it and the administrative follow-up is always a shambles.  Most Australians would agree that spin doctors are not necessarily a core business of a lot of these departments,” he said.”

Unfortunately, those heartening words from Senator Abetz as he decried the waste, turned out to be…spin.

In March 2014, the Canberra Times reported that:

“The federal government’s ”army” of spin doctors and communications staff has grown to more than 1900, based on data supplied by departments and agencies.

An analysis of answers to questions on notice supplied to a Senate committee shows staffers in government media, communications and marketing operations have increased by several hundred in two years and could be costing taxpayers as much as $190 million a year.

Public Service Minister Eric Abetz said the government was conscious of the growth of its spin machine and hinted action was being considered.  Responding to the latest figures, the minister said they showed ”the approximate level of communications staffing that the Coalition inherited from the former government after the election”.

Of course – it is an example of Labor’s waste that the Coalition have had to employ more spin doctors.

And chief amongst these spin doctors is Mark Textor.

For the 2004 federal election campaign for John Howard, Textor was credited for the “who do you trust” campaign strategy refocusing key trust questions back on the then Opposition Leader’s economic competence – a line Tony Abbott recycled.    In 2012 he was strategist and pollster for Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party election campaign.

We also have “Tex” to thank for the catch cry quote: “We will stop the boats, stop the big new taxes, end the waste, and pay back the debt.”

So confident is Textor of his position, in November last year he felt it appropriate to tweet about Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa, whom he likened to a 1970s Pilipino [sic] porn star, also questioning his ethics.

Textor’s company profile says:

“Mark’s direct clients have included governments, premiers and opposition leaders in six countries and the CEOs and Boards of major Australian and multi-national companies in a broad range of industries, including; mining, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), pharmaceutical, retail, financial services, banking (“Big Four”), tobacco, renewable energies, oil, gas and farming sectors.”

It’s a bit rich for a man who will say anything for money to be lecturing on ethics.

Australia’s Power Index acknowledged his skill with the focus group.

“He’s a genius at transforming raw research into compelling communication – someone who presses people’s emotional buttons, identifies points of division, and boils complex issues down to their core.”

This is the man who has sold the message of fear and division, and is praised for so doing.

As reported in the Guardian

“In Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, Crosby Textor declares it is paid to lobby on behalf of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.

APPEA is the peak industry group for the oil and gas industry and among other things, speaks on behalf of Australia’s booming coal seam gas industry.

Crosby Textor also carries out research for industry groups such as the Queensland Resources Council – the peak body for mining in the state.

Crosby Textor also lists on the lobby registers other clients including Research In Motion (the makers of BlackBerry), property developers, a plastics company, a recycling firm, a business making biofuels and a charity that aims to better protect cyclists.”

How can we expect honesty and integrity from a government which is run by a woman who craves personal power without accountability and a man who has a vested interest in manipulating opinion and policy in favour of his clients?

How many people does it take to tell the truth?

As Western Australia prepares to vote AGAIN for the Senate no doubt some people just feel over it all. Though aghast at the result, I remember last September feeling relieved that at least the endless campaigning was over, but they have not had a break in WA. In fact they have been barraged by media and politicians non-stop. They could be forgiven for turning off. In an attempt to get them up-to-date without having to search too far or read too much, here is a selection of the recent news.

“TONY Abbott and Joe Hockey are convinced the government will be punished electorally if it does not produce a tough budget, and they believe there is a “public appetite” for decisive action to get the economy back on track.”

“TONY Abbott has established a covert political hit squad which is funded by taxpayers, operates outside parliamentary scrutiny and has a controversial leader.

The under-the-radar Coalition Advisory Service supplies Government backbenchers with media information and ammunition to aim at the Labor Opposition. It has offices in Parliament House. It’s head is Simon Berger, the former Woolworths executive who left the company after organising the auction of a “chaff-bag jacket”at a September 2012 Young Liberal fundraising dinner addressed by Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones.  The chaff-bag referred to on-air comments by Mr Jones that then Prime Minister Julia Gillard should be put in one and dumped at sea.

Under CAS, Mr Berger has a staff of at least six but a potential allocation of 10. They are paid from $75,000 to $175,000 a year and so far have been issued laptops and mobile telephones worth a total of close to $22,000.”

“The Abbott government is using a research company to trawl through millions of Australian social media posts to advise it on its immigration policies.  The scrutiny of Twitter, Facebook and blogs is part of $4.3 million worth of research contracts commissioned by the federal government in its first five months of office.

Cubit Media Research has two contracts with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to deliver ”media positioning analysis”.

“The Immigration Department employs a 66-strong team of spin doctors, dwarfing the 39 media and communications staff employed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the ministers on his frontbench.

Last August, immigration employed 72 media staff, but the 66 officers who now work in the department’s media unit are supported by a further 33 personnel who work on media operations and events in the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.”

“Textor has been politically invaluable to Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party. Few people are as politically close to Tony Abbott as Mark Textor. And what of the 21 firms that have now employed Crosby Textor Research Strategies Results to lobby on their behalf in Canberra. These firms include the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, the leading lobby group for the oil and gas industry. The APPEA is particularly campaigning for government support for the coal-seam gas industry.”

“The Abbott Government will seek a truce with media outlets and taxpayers so it can buy or lease larger VIP jets to fly politicians, officials and journalists overseas on the same aircraft. The $600 million lease on the current RAAF fleet of two Boeing 737 business jets and three smaller Challenger 604 aircraft will expire next year and the government will seek agreement from media companies to limit criticism of any decision to opt for bigger planes

Both US giant Boeing and European maker Airbus would be likely to offer highly competitive deals to secure the plum deal for the VIP jets. The Boeing 777 and Airbus A-330 each cost about $250 million and both can carry in excess of 200 passengers in VIP configuration..”

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott will fly his Cabinet to Perth this week in an attempt to rally last minute support for the Liberals in the upcoming Senate election.

While in Perth, Mr Abbott will also attempt to swell the coffers of the Liberal Party by being the headline act of a party fundraiser tomorrow night – charging $5000 a table to attend.”

Mr Newman’s pay packet will increase by almost $70,000 to about $380,000 a year.  Ms Palaszczuk’s pay goes up by $80,000 to about $310,000.”

“Unless we take immediate remedial action in the budget, then Australia will never have a surplus,” Mr Hockey said.

“The fact is we have to address this and address this fast.  And the challenge is that everyone in Australia has to help to do the heavy lifting in the budget, because if the burden falls on a few, the weight of that burden will crush them.”

I now realise that the few who can’t bear the burden are the wealthy and the politicians, but there’s lots of low income earners.  They should be able to support them, right?

Image from lecourriercreole.blogspot.com

Image from lecourriercreole.blogspot.com

The Ministry for Misinformation and Wealth Protection

The AIMN has obtained a copy of a draft proposal circulating the Coalition party machine.

In an attempt to better use available resources, state and local governments will be abolished.  All federal and state ministries, departments, advisory bodies, and their employees, will be coalesced into one organisation known as the Ministry for Misinformation and Wealth Protection (MMaWP).

It is estimated that this will eventually result in one million redundancies which will come from, as far as possible, natural attrition.  Retraining as spin doctors will be available to those with a penchant for prevarication.  Others will join a mobile workforce to be deployed wherever the mining or agricultural industries may need them.  Others will build the roads of the 21st century.  Those who refuse will be transferred to an undisclosed location to undergo behavioural rehabilitation followed by resettlement.

MMaWP will be headed by the Creator of all things seen and unseen, Peta Credlin.  Through her all things are made.

The Creator’s wisdom will be disseminated by the Knights of the Star Chamber – Brian Loughnane, Tony Nutt, Andrew Hirst, Mark Textor, Michael Ronaldson and Kevin Andrews.  These six men meet around a table emblazoned with the Star of David to reflect our Judao-Christian heritage.

Appointments have been made on merit.

Two Archanglers will head up Operation Corporate Marauders.

Scott Morrison will be in charge of Misinformation.  He will give a weekly briefing though, due to concerns about wealth security and diplomatic relations with other companies, the time and place of these briefings will be kept secret.

Greg Hunt will head the Wealth Protection program.  He has had 175,000 rubber stamps made and will be sending them to those who are in the top 1% of income earners.  This will save an enormous amount of red-tape as developers and entrepreneurs can be self-regulating.

Advising the Archanglers, there will be a Coalition of Cheaters.

Joe Hockey has a team devoted to getting blood out of a stone.  Discarded stones will be washed away by the rising tide.  Middle-class stones will be put on orange life-rafts while they regenerate more blood for harvesting.  Diamonds will be given a transfusion and accommodated on a fleet of custom built yachts.

Malcom Turnbull will advise on how to sell things you wouldn’t buy.

Andrew Robb has been charged with protecting the wealth of pharmaceutical companies so they can continue to contribute to the Pollie Pedal ride.

Julie Bishop will be in charge of grooming.  It is understood that she has a memorandum of understanding with Armani to provide uniforms for MMaWP officials.  She will also instruct in deportment and the importance of making eye contact.

Christopher Pyne will give back-to-basics direct instruction on indignation.

Anthony Mundine will advise about Aboriginal Muslim sports stars.

Bronwyn Bishop will act as interpreter and mediator.

Tony Abbott will be the face of the MMaWP, available to travel anywhere for a photo opportunity.  Audio will not be allowed.

Banks and Private Health Insurers will remain outside the purview of the Ministry.

Perhaps the most courageous proposal of the MMaWP is to abolish the Australia Sale Act, paving the way for majority foreign ownership of Australia.  They argue that privatising Australia would bring enormous wealth to a few people which will allow them to feed more serfs.  Hungry serfs will find sweatshops off-shore.

Concerned Aussies Gina Rinehart, Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Bolt have put together a partnership which is understood to have made an offer to keep Australia in the hands of Australians.  Their Board of Directors, the IPA, have been in close negotiation with the MMaWP, and insiders have told AIMN that agreement in lack of principle has been reached.

We will endeavour to keep you informed of reaction to, and progress on, this proposal.

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