Yesterdayâ€™s revelations that the conservative lobbying firm Gavin Anderson had hired a senior official from the Greens party have created much community concern about the hypocrisy and humbug of the party that so actively pretends to be the moral custodians of Australian public life.
Speculation in the nationâ€™s capital has it that Hayley Conway is being paid well in excess of $250,000 per annum to lobby her party comrades including her former boss, balance-of-power Greens MP, Adam Bandt and his soon-to-be Senate veto-wielders who will soon be taking power in the new Senate after July 1st.
Because of that veto, the Greens party will be in a strong position to build on the monster donation from Graeme Wood, the founder of wotif, whose own carbon footprint in encouraging leisure travel is probably bigger than most power stations, who gave them $1.6 million, the largest single donation in Australian political history. Bob Brown, the superannuation millionaire, and Graeme Wood, the travel entrepreneur millionaire, have both loudly agreed that he will get no special favours from the Greens party. Others arenâ€™t so sure.
Ominously, Wood is a strong opponent of the NBN. Recently Bob Brown has come out in support of retail billionaires like Gerry Harvey and the notorious Solomon Lew who have been pushing the federal government to impose the GST on goods sent from overseas via post, a measure that would almost certainly cost taxpayers more to collect than the tax revenue itself. Brown hasnâ€™t ruled out soliciting large donations from the retail giants.
One of the Greens party official Hayley Conwayâ€™s clients is an oil giant PTT Exploration and Production â€“ the Thai state oil & gas multi-billion dollar colossus â€“ that was strongly criticised by the Greens party and others after a major oil leak caused considerable environmental damage off the North-West Cape of Australia..
The Australian government reported that the oil spill harmed many species including common noddies, brown boobies and a sooty tern. Environmental groups like the Wilderness Society and the World Wildlife Fund said the Montara spill was â€œcatastrophic for marine ecosystemsâ€ with whales and dolphins and turtles all at risk.
Svelte young ladies â€“ Greens voters all â€“ covered themselves in only black body paint in protests outside offices of the oil industryâ€™s representatives giving the people of Perth the same sort of entertainment theyâ€™d missed since the sad demise of the cityâ€™s mud-wrestling facilities in the 1980s.
They were right to whinge. It was a nasty spill that ran for months spewing oil into the sea, the kind of disaster that is the worst nightmare of the oil industry which for the most part goes to a great deal of trouble to minimise their ecological footprint.
The Greens were all over the issue like an itchy rash, hoping it would be like the dreadful BP spill in the US.
Their spokescomrade Rachel Siewert claimed PTT was lying about the extent of the spill and demanded a fully public inquiry into their misconduct.
She issued an astonishing number of releases and public comments on the spill although since December last year has grown very quiet on PTT and their spill.
Perhaps the fact sheâ€™s gone quiet is unrelated to a senior Greens party official starting to lobby on the mega oil companyâ€™s behalf. We donâ€™t have any issue at all with businesses or anyone else asking government to consider their interests when making decisions. Itâ€™s a healthy part of democracy. The alternative to having lobbyists or stakeholders directly approaching government is that politicians and bureaucrats would decide everything on their own. Hardly an improvement.
But the Greens party pretend our reasonably healthy system is something else. They would have the community believe that money politics and lobbyists and ex-ministers and staffers exploiting their former position is some form of cancer eating away at our democracy. The truth is Australia has one of the most boringly honest public sectors in the world. The leading anti-corruption NGO Transparency International says so. We are among the least corrupt countries on Earth.
And yet Bob Brown, himself a superannuation millionaire, conjures up and exploits a contrary perception, feeding a prejudice already evident in cynical and over-educated inner-city types.
The Greens would have us believe they are above it all, above the world of lobbyists, expense accounts, secret meetings and influence. Isnâ€™t it satisfying to see them in what they describe as the gutter everyone else is in?
With one of their most senior party officials going directly from Adam Bandtâ€™s private office and Greens party HQ to lobby for some of the worldâ€™s biggest resources and energy companies like BHP and PTT that have been frequently vilified by the Greens, it is all very reminiscent of a large telco that was once regularly attacked by a retired radio host then becoming his biggest private sponsor.
It might not have been corrupt. But in the context it was in, it was incredibly sleazy and a bit too slick by half.
Gavin Andersonâ€™s decision to hire a prominent Greens party official to lobby for some of the companies that the Greens pretend to hate the most is most certainly in that category.
Itâ€™s so often the loudest in their piety who have the most to hide.