Ok so I’m not in a position to be able to talk about the legalities of lobbying here although I would point anyone interested to this government site, but I can say it as I see it and what I see at the moment, in my situation looks ethically questionable, that’s for sure.
My question ‘just how many pies can a lobbyist stick their fingers into’ comes from a situation that is festering (yes, that’s how it feels) around the area that I live at the moment, a situation that feels like it has come at us like a wrecking ball (and thanks to that Mylie Cyrus song yes I would like to have a swing on it).
The situation is the latest incarnation of the Badgery’s Creek airport.
The problem, as far as I can see is that the Badgery’s Creek proposal, from the EIS which was released in October 2015 and had to be reviewed and back by 20th December 2015 (busy times as it is the end of school year here in Australia plus Christmas and our longest holiday period) to today’s community engagement sessions have a sickening feeling of speaking (and ‘engaging’) not to understand but just to reply or worse, to just ‘tick the box’. Then, when the replies come they have typically had more than a little air of ‘stage managed’ about them……..
The way the process has been prepared and subsequently managed has led me into a situation where I feel deeply mistrusting of the whole shebang, as if my voice as a voter (and subsequently as a protestor) is being drowned out, ignored, marginalised and that this ‘full-of-holes’ proposal could go ahead anyway placing a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week airport in the back corner of the Sydney Basin where pollution will be trapped against the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains before it swirls back onto the good people of Western Sydney. Good luck making your way through the smog to your Jobs and Growth guys, that is if you can get out of bed at all (who needs lungs anyway)……
At this point I would like to make it clear that while I do FEEL that the process has been a sham and I obviously have very serious misconceptions about the lobbying involved I am still capable of listening to understand, I honestly do want to spend my time working towards getting the best deal for Western Sydney because I live here – unlike some of the lobbyists – and I feel morally obligated to challenge a proposal that will lead to extraordinarily more pollution in the Sydney basin.
Those of us like me that HAVE had time and MADE time to research this proposal fully have ended up feeling like the government are treating us with contempt and hoping that we haven’t and won’t notice. A hope that is pretty easy to maintain given the fact that the lobby process has close ties with at least one of Sydney’s largest newspapers.
This airport has been proposed and defeated time and time again but THIS time there is an extra layer doing deals and WE DIDN’T VOTE FOR THEM.
OK so what are the relationships of this lobby group?
Firstly, none of what I am saying is based on information that I’ve either made-up or gotten through dodgy sources, I literally just googled the money trail after going to the ‘Out There’ summit (and what a great show of truth that little event was…..)
Lobbyist X is a company that focuses on:
corporate advisory, public affairs and strategic communications
brings to its clients deep experience in government relations, corporate advisory, marketing & brand, public policy, management consulting, strategic media engagement, stakeholder relations and project management.
Customers of this company currently include the following, many of which have the lobbyist integrated into their boards or management structures. I am not at all sure if that is normal or not.
- Lendlease – Infrastructure building and planning, mentioned time and time again when Badgery’s Creek comes up. The attached article pitches them as ‘independent’ to the process.
- Sydney Airport Corporation – Kingsford Smith has first right of purchase of the Badgery’s Creek airport and is of course interested in how a second airport might pan out.
- Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue – Set up to ‘engage’ Sydney in a productive discussion about Western Sydney. Involves Western Sydney Uni, WSROC, Sydney Business Chamber and the Western Sydney Community Forum.
- Celestino Pty Ltd – Property Development company with plans laid out to develop a Science Park.
- Liverpool City Council
- Leichhardt Council (which now doesn’t exist, I wonder if they will take on the new amalgamated council?)
- Western Sydney Rail Alliance
The founder of this lobby company is also Chairman, special adviser to the Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation which might well be why we, in the Blue Mountains are constantly told ‘don’t worry’ about the World Heritage Listing on our national park (although I am just speculating here). In addition to that the founder has a background in tourism and was the Managing Director of the Tourism and Transport Forum until 2010 if I remember rightly.
On top of this the other lobbyist in this company is an ex-newspaper journalist who also happens to be intimately involved with at least one of the consultancies clients.
So let’s recap.
We have ONE lobby group that is making representation to government on the needs and wishes (presumably) of various councils, business communities, property developers, travel and environment (via UNWTO) transport and the public.
Oh and they also happen to have fingers in various sporting ties too – sport is big in Western Sydney – I heard that at the Out There summit too and went away wondering what they tell them at the Western Sydney Wanderers games.
And that same lobby group produces NEWS
So just how many pies can a lobbyist stick their fingers into?
I don’t know but I’d like to think it wasn’t this many.
and they certainly don’t speak for me.