Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Christopher Pyne’s Lobby Shop Funds Parliamentary AUKUS Delegation

No matter how many decades it takes for the squillion-dollar AUKUS nuclear submarines to hit the water, the big security agreement will be a rainmaker for the defence industry and its lobbyists.

Among those getting in on the action is former defence minister Christopher Pyne, an old Canberra favourite who now heads booming lobbying shop Pyne and Partners.

Last week, Liberal Senator James Paterson and Labor MP Meryl Swanson were among a bipartisan defence industry delegation in Washington DC and New York whose flights, accommodation and incidentals were all covered by Pyne and Partners.

CBD hears Pyne contacted Paterson and Swanson in putting together the delegation, which included representatives from firms that are already big suppliers to the Australian Defence Force and US military.

The delegation was afforded top-notch access to key figures in the US military and national security establishment, including President Joe Biden’s “Asia tsar” Kurt Campbell, US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, and various members of Congress.

The delegation landed just days after Pyne and Partners announced its very own trans-Pacific strategic alliance with American law firm-cum-lobbyists Baker Donelson.

Despite Pyne’s well-documented giddy enthusiasm for all things AUKUS, the former minister didn’t return CBD’s calls on Tuesday.

Adversaries unite for Assange

Supporters of Julian Assange sense they’re going to get a little more change out of Anthony Albanese’s government as they battle against the jailed Wikileaks founder’s proposed extradition from the UK to the US.

Assange’s father John Shipton went so far as to say on Tuesday that the recent visit of High Commissioner Stephen Smith to Assange in London’s Belmarsh Prison marked the beginning of the end of the saga.

Shipton made his optimistic claims as he and his colleagues from the campaign launched an open letter by 48 Australian parliamentarians – including many members of the Albanese government – calling on US Attorney-General Merrick Garland to drop extradition proceedings.

But some of the political personas making common cause over Assange caught CBD’s eye. It’s not very often you’ll find anti-coal Greens leader Adam Bandt on the same side of an issue as One Nation Senator for Queensland and vocal climate sceptic Malcolm Roberts.

Or what about LNP Senator from the sunshine state Gerard Rennick – who reckons that COVID-19 vaccines amounted to “experimentation on children” – taking the same position as Kooyong teal independent Monique Ryan, who still gets around parliament in a face mask to protect her from the virus?

On it goes; Coalition MP Llew O’Brien and Senator Matt Canavan – who said last year they wanted out of the Paris climate agreement – both signed, along with all of Ryan’s fellow teals who won their seats last year campaigning for more action on climate.

All the Greens MPs and senators signed the letter, along with Ralph Babet, the Victorian senator from Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party who described the Greens’ ideology as “cancerous to a free and open society”.

Strange bedfellows and all of that.

Busiest job in the gallery?

Another signatory to that Assange letter is high-profile former Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, who has been in the news a bit of late.

There was the spectacular walk-out on the party that put her in the Senate, plus run-ins with NSW and federal police over her actions at the Mardi Gras and a counterprotest to an anti-transgender rally. And don’t think we’ve forgotten the alleged relationship with a former bikie boss.

So it’s with some relief that we bring news that Thorpe has decided to splash out some of her staffing allowance to hire a media and communications adviser, an expanded role available under a restructure of the senator’s staff, after a cultural review of the office undertaken with the assistance of the parliament.

If you’re keen on the gig, you’ve got to be “passionate and engaged” according to the job ad, be willing to travel, able to keep it together under pressure and handy with a smartphone. For the socials. If you have all of the above, you will get about $116,000 a year, plus 15.4 per cent super. Applications close next week. Oh, and you probably don’t need us to tell you this, but you’ll be busy.

Morrison still a Shark

Since losing the last election, former prime minister Scott Morrison has surprised the cynics.

If social media is to be believed, his love for making curries remains intact, as does his devotion to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks – despite commentary that both passions were all part of the act.

‘Beloved by Australians’: former Trump adviser fawns over Scott Morrison

Now a humble backbencher with one foot out the door, Morrison still gets treated well by rugby league’s powerbrokers, with the NRL gifting the ex-PM 12 tickets to watch the Sharks’ narrow win over the Parramatta Eels at Commbank Stadium last month.

Just last year, there were a few rumours circling about the Sharks famous number-one ticketholder pitching to join the Australian Rugby League Commission, which the former PM quickly dismissed as “pub talk”.

We reckon as long as the free tickets keep rolling in, he’ll be happy enough without having to deal with any of that nonsense.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald



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