Crikey understands there is real concern at the top levels of the Howard government – the very top levels – about the recent activities of the government’s pollster and strategy company Crosby Textor.

That’s because as Crosby Textor expands its advisory business it is taking on lots of commercial clients whose interests are at odds with those of the government – such as Airline Partners Australia.

Crosby Textor is working for a range of large companies on projects that are often in conflict with government policy, or require Government support.

At the same time, though, Crosby Textor provides key cogs of the government’s political machine. It researches everything to do with electorate sentiment and proposed policy.

Crosby Textor exists and owes its reputation to its Howard government work.

There are a number of raised eyebrows around Canberra over how Crosby Textor is – or isn’t – managing potential for conflict of interest.

Senior government figures are speculating on the size of Crosby Textor’s Chinese walls.

Rival lobbying firms are unlikely to pass on the opportunity to stick in the boot at a sensitive time in the electoral cycle.