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Simon Crean

“An earlier TT article featured John Curtin House Ltd, suggested by Wikipedia as acting as a “front” to help the ALP hide the source of political donations. So why does it have an alternative trading name of “ALP/ACTU Joint Venture”? Also, why have AFMA conducted Small Pelagic Fisheries quota meetings from the same address as John Curtin House Ltd?”

( Read the earlier article by clicking here: This is a wake-up call )

Further research into the ALP associated entity of John Curtin House Limited has unearthed a couple of intriguing scenarios. I’m hoping that someone within the TT readership might be able to help explain these scenarios by posting comments on this article.

First, the Australian Electoral Commission website offers an alternative trading name for this entity - “ALP/ACTU Joint Venture” ( view this near the top of Page 2 at the following link:
here ). So if this entity is receiving donations for the ALP, how can it also be described as being a “joint venture” with the ACTU? Does it really mean that corporate donations via John Curtin House Ltd are also being funneled in part to the ACTU, via some kind of shared funding agreement? If so, for what purpose, and does this imply that the ACTU have opened themselves up to corporate sponsorship and influence?

Another TT reader recently posted a comment containing a link to The Greens’ “Democracy For Sale” website http://www.democracy4sale.org/. I took a good look around this informative site, which was put together by the NSW Greens. One thing I learnt is the following definition of an Associated Entity taken from Federal Disclosure Laws:-

“an entity that is controlled by or operates wholly or to a significant extent for the benefit of one or more political parties.”

Based upon this definition it indeed seems entirely plausible that an associated entity with an alternate name of “ALP/ACTU Joint Venture” could allow corporate donations to be made to both the ALP and the ACTU. Seeing mention of the ACTU reminded me of the involvement of Simon Crean and Bill Kelty, and others closely connected with them, in the forestry negotiations and support for Gunns’ Pulp Mill. Now that we’re finally approaching the culmination of the forestry agreement process, the TT readership may be interested in a short recap of their roles.

Simon Crean is a former ACTU President and Bill Kelty is a former ACTU Secretary. Simon Crean is the brother of David Crean, the former Tasmanian Treasurer who retired in 2004 on a government pension due to ill-health. David Crean is the current Chairman of Hydro Tasmania, which has engaged in deals with the allegedly corrupt “Taib regime” in Malaysia (the owners of Ta Ann) via their consulting arm Entura ( here ). Ta Ann of course are likely to be a financial benefactor should the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement proceed. Simon Crean is also currently the ALP’s federal minister for Regional Development, and his appointed Chair of the Regional Development Advisory Council is Bill Kelty. It appears to be a demonstration of ALP/ACTU “mateship” in action, and an example of the “revolving door” that appears to exist between the ACTU and Gillard’s supporters from the ALP’s right-wing. In relation to the forestry negotiations, it should also be mentioned that Jonathan West sits on Simon Crean’s Advisory Council.

Curiously, the brother of Jonathan West was a joint founding member (with Phill Pullinger) of Our Common Ground, an organisation set up to promote the notion of finding a forest peace deal.

Jonathan West’s brother is also the office landlord for Environment Tasmania (ET), and Phill Pullinger is the ET Director. ET is one of the 3 ENGOs who were selected to be a signatory to the forestry Statement of Principles, and is part-funded by government grants.

Shortly after the forestry Statement of Principles Agreement was signed back in October 2010 readers might remember that the Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, announced the appointment of Bill Kelty to facilitate the ongoing negotiations. Mr Kelty stated at the time that his involvement with this matter was unpaid ( read about it here ). He also stated his belief that a forestry agreement might be achievable “if the proposed pulp mill at Bell Bay proceeds”.

Following the signing of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on August 7th, 2011, the “Independent Verification Group” (IVG) was established to investigate High Conservation Value (HCV) forest claims. At the end of that process, Jonathan West included the following recommendation in his Chairman’s Report:-

7. Cease environmental campaigns to undermine industry access to markets and capital.
Once the initial reserves and phased transition plan is agreed, the ENGOs must agree to
terminate their campaigns against elements of the Tasmanian forest-product industry. This
includes the sawmilling sector, veneers at Ta Ann, and a potential pulp mill

Simon Crean of course strongly voiced his support of the Pulp Mill on numerous occasions as Regional Development Minister.

Another intriguing fact that I happened upon during my research was that AFMA used to conduct some of its business from the 3rd floor at the registered address of John Curtin House Ltd, and this is where meetings used to be held concerning quotas for the Small Pelagic Fishery. Was it simply that John Curtin House Ltd used to sub-let some of its spare office space to AFMA, in a similar way to how they used to lease office space at Centenary House to the National Audit Office ( see Wikipedia here )? If so then it invites speculation as to the probity of leasing arrangements that existed between this ALP associated entity and AFMA as a government department. This was a curious coincidence to stumble upon, which reminded me of the recent Ombudsman findings concerning AFMA’s process for setting the super-trawler quota.

Kev Rothery is an IT Specialist who emigrated to Tasmania 8 years ago. Kev takes a keen interest in local affairs, and is a former employee of The Wilderness Society Inc. He believes in the importance of public participation, and the right of the public to be properly informed.