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Aug 6, 2010

Big Tobacco not just in Liberal pockets -- Crikey reveals the Labor links

The Coalition has been exposed this week for its links to Big Tobacco. But Labor members are no clean-skins when it comes to accepting cash from the cigarette industry.


The Coalition has been exposed this week for its links to Big Tobacco. But Labor party heavyweights are certainly no clean-skins when it comes to accepting cash from the cigarette industry.

On Wednesday ABC’s Lateline program revealed that the Alliance of Australian Retailers’ $5 million campaign against the government’s plain packet legislation is being spun by PR firm the Civic Group. It came amid a storm of criticism from Labor over the Coalition’s malfeasance.

The Libs had received $2.5 million from death stick spruikers over the last 10 years, Labor said. The Alliance’s chief executive Sheryle Moon was appointed to numerous plumb jobs over the life of the Howard government, while Civic Group director Jason Aldworth is a perennial Liberal parliamentary hopeful and former vice president of the party’s Victorian division.

Julia Gillard didn’t hold back, accusing the Coalition of some kind of conspiracy theory: “I think Mr Abbott needs to come clean about what participation the Liberal Party had in the tobacco campaign… I think Australians are pretty worried that Mr Abbott’s health policy is hostage to the influence of tobacco giants.”

But much of the coverage has neglected to mention that Labor also has a bevy of lobbying links to Big Tobacco. A revolving door of advisers and ex-party hacks routinely pop up singing the praises of the puffing fraternity.

Other Civic directors include former right-wing Victorian ALP state secretary Andres Puig and ex-John Pandazopoulos chief of staff Brett Miller, who both worked for Labor-linked lobbyists CPR before a blow-up last November left them out on their own.

CPR, run by Victorian ALP heavyweight Adam Kilgour, has done loads of work with British American Tobacco in select states over public smoking bans and the like.

And then there’s Victorian ALP phone spam favourites Auspoll, which has previously run numerous projects and surveys for British American Tobacco in the past, including this “retailer and community attitude survey” in 2008 (Auspoll says it has since stopped working with the company for “ethical reasons”). Recently resigned board member and director of research and development John Armitage was a former ALP candidate for Flinders and worked on the ACTU’s Your Rights at Work campaign.

Interconsult also opens doors for BAT — a different firm run by Armitage and ex-ALP national organiser Melissa Horne. Ex-Jenny Macklin staffer Jess Sumich is a shareholder in Interconsult.

CPI Strategic — a firm co-directed by dumped ALP state secretary Stephen Newnham and former Liberal staffer Rick Brown — is said to have done work for Philip Morris, although Brown said the firm wasn’t a current client. “If you want to allege that we’ve done work for Philip Morris, you’re okay,” Brown told Crikey.

Or what about John Halden, ex-WA ALP secretary and state upper house MP, who lists Philip Morris as a client of his firm Halden Burns. He’s now running the ALP’s campaign in Hasluck.

Or former ALP Senate president Kerry Sibraa, general counsel of Jackson Wells, who does great work for Imperial Tobacco (and also the Exclusive Brethren and the Church of Scientology).

Meanwhile Phil Staindl, the immediate past president of the ALP fundraising arm Progressive Business and Steve Cusworth, a former Labor candidate for the Victorian state seat of Caulfield, works at InsideOut Strategic which works directly for Philip Morris. InsideOut has offices adjacent to Interconsult and also lobbies (circuitously) for it.

And then there’s Ozan Ibrisim, a senior adviser to Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews and Socialist Left stalwart, who joined Philip Morris as manager of regulatory affairs in June.

Lobbying sources told Crikey that while the ALP links ran deep, the firms above had only limited involvement in the plain packet campaign and that it was the Civic Group that was really “in the money”.

They said the broader tobacco lobbying industry was for the most part “run by Libs”.

Former Bronwyn Bishop staffer John Galligan went to work to BAT and is now at Microsoft. Bede Fennell, active in the Wentworth Forum cash cow, is a former head of public affairs at BAT Australia and is now with BAT UK.

A former senior adviser in John Howard’s office, Nicole Feely, went to work for tobacco giant Philip Morris in 2001 and is now running hospitals in WA. And Caroline Denyer, a direct BAT employee, was seconded to the WA Liberal Party to work on its 2005 election campaign.


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22 thoughts on “Big Tobacco not just in Liberal pockets — Crikey reveals the Labor links

  1. kate


  2. keith dwyer

    CPR ? No relation to the CPR of the First Aid varity I presume ?

    by Google, “Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure for people in cardiac arrest or, in some circumstances, respiratory arrest. CPR is performed … “

  3. simon.chapman

    And not forgetting the biggest fish of all … Nicotine Nick Greiner .. out of politics & onto the board of BAT, and then a stint as its chairman. Today he’s still daily genuflecting to the Wonder God Tobacco in his role as chair of Nuance, the duty free group http://www.nickgreiner.com.au/ from which he is likely to have a thing or two to say about the Henry Review’s recommendation of ending duty free tobacco sales in Australia (as has long happened in Singapore for Singaporean citizens).

  4. davidk

    What is this rubbish? So exLabor people working in the PR field taking work from Big tobacco means the ALP is in bed with them like the Libs even though it has stopped accepting donations. Give me a break!

  5. David

    WTF….Mr Crook just who are YOU working for? That is the biggest load of gibberish I have read for an age……The Liberal Party is accepting Millions from the tobaaco industry. How much is the Labor Party receiving? cut the crap and get to the point.

  6. Mack the Knife

    Where are the donations to the Labor party coffers?

    How does this compare with the direct millions into the Libs bank account leaving them beholden to these tobacco giants to ensure millions more will die from their products?

    Pretty weak article really.

  7. Roberto Tedesco

    Shame some people can’t get a job without taking the Phillip Morris shilling.

  8. Oscar

    A litte bit of “nominative determinism” at work here.

    Crikey, you should be ashamed.

  9. Andrew Crook

    Obviously some commenters aren’t au fait with the well established big tobacco/ALP lobbyist merry go round. Do a bit of research into your favourite acolyte and get back to me, legends.

  10. Mack the Knife

    You miss the point legend.

    Your article title implied Labor had taken tobacco money for their campaigns.

    They’ve never taken tobacco money. You confuse ex ALP workers who choose to earn their money with tobacco money with an implied party donations slant.

    You’re a grub mate.

  11. davidk

    Couldn’t have said it better myself Mack. I hate being talked down to by dimwits who think they’re clever and can’t understand why others on’t agree.

  12. Liz45

    I agree with you Davidk and others. There’s a huge difference. Abbott’s response to plain paper packaging was interesting. He said he’d “consider it” if elected, which is the same as saying’ we’ll ignore it completely and won’t do a thing?’ If the Libs want any credibility, and Andrew Cook wants to pin it on a political party – start and end with the Libs who as others have pointed out, have taken blood money for decades past, and have no intention of taking a moral stand on this issue!

    Incidently, all their waffle about health in general is driving me totally nuts. They were in govt for almost 12 years. If they did such a good job, it would still be ‘humming along’? All that would be needed would be ‘tweaking’ here or there, and employing more people etc as numbers grow. The same with mental health and aged care. They cut back on the numbers of people who could study medicine, including nurses, as they did with many trades. I remember the warnings while Keating was PM. Abbott deprived the health system of at least one billion dollars, as he did with aboriginal health. The current mess is Howard/Abbott’s problems and health ministers before him. Why? Because they use private hospitals which are not as bogged down in so-called elective surgery numbers. In 2004, the ALP was going to introduce a system where operating theatres in private hospitals were also used for public patients, but they weren’t elected, so? Here we are!

    Anything to deter people from taking up smoking in the first place makes sense to me! Jack up the prices too. And I’d also prohibit TV shows from the US and Britain that have smoking in them. I’ve noticed that the really good detective shows from Britain have at least one main actor, smoking, in almost every scene he or she is in. I’ve read, that is how they get around the no smoking ads on TV? Shameful! get rid of them and tighten up the laws too!

  13. Flower

    No sane person wants to smoke yet millions of people worldwide are unable to kick the habit and millions suffer a slow and agonising death.

    Tobacco companies add ammonia to the cigarette manufacturing process which helps convert bound nicotine molecules in tobacco smoke into free nicotine molecules. This process is known as “freebasing” and the end result is an enhanced effect of the drug on the hapless user, leading to a more intense addiction.

    BAT et al should be charged with crimes against humanity and anyone taking bribes from these grim reapers should be prosecuted for consorting with known criminals.

    The Australian Labor Party implemented a policy to reject tobacco company donations in 2004 but the Liberal Party grim reapers don’t care where the blood money comes from.

    The right-wing Institute of Public Affairs described a major report of the National Health and Medical Research Council on passive smoking as “incoherent”, “corrupt” and “incompetent:”

    Charles Kemp – founder of IPA and father of Rod and David Kemp

    Rod Kemp Chairman of IPA and former Liberal Senator

    David Kemp former Liberal MP

    “Less government regulation – not more – is the way to ensure that Australia is equipped to handle future challenges such as the environment and climate change, and to foster continued economic growth.” (Rod Kemp 2008)

    Yeah well Rod Kemp you had nineteen years as an Australian senator to lobby for the cessation of the rape of Australia’s biodiversity and address the challenges constantly presented by an outraged environment but you flunked it. Your big shot empire builders are still bludging off the environment so, liar liar, catch on fire – literally!

  14. Andrew Crook

    @Mack The Knife. ALP never taken tobacco money? What could you possibly be talking about? http://bit.ly/ajXLo1

    Since Latham’s 2004 diktat, hundreds of thousands of dollars continue to be funnelled to Labor from small business associations that are themselves funded by tobacco companies.

    But the story isn’t about those facts. It’s about ALP staffers who simultaneously lobby for the tobacco industry.

  15. dispatch1

    I wonder what the ALP’s Brunwick candidate, Jane Garrett,was thinking when she appointed BAT lobbyist Lachlan Beaton to run a “holier than thou” campaign against the Greens – while maintaining BAT lobbying activity. Its a touch ironic.

  16. Mack the Knife

    Still a beat up Crook(e).

    There is no tobacco money going into Labor coffers right now as you inferred and ‘simultaneously’ conflicts with the ‘ex, former and dumped’ titles you gave to the alleged offenders.

    ‘Big Tobacco not just in Liberal pockets’ infers they are in Labor’s pockets and they’re not.

    Did you take tobacco money to write this disingenuous article

  17. Bobalot The Great

    Andrew Cook apparently cannot tell the difference between 2004 and 2010.

    According to his very own link Labor has not been receiving donations from Tobacco companies since October 2004.

    In order to save face, he hand waves some “facts” about ALP getting funds through indirectly through third parties. He curiously doesn’t bother to provide a shred of evidence for this.

    Is this what passes for informed comment nowadays?

  18. Alex H

    This reads as a lot of digging with no gold found. Most of the ‘links’ which you refer to are either ‘ex’ or ‘former’ stakeholders in the ALP in some way or another. The ALP can’t be held accountable for what people do once they leave the ALP. Tell us about people with influentual positions in both tobacco and the ALP or about the ALP accepting money from tobacco companies and you’ll have something worth saying.

    The only direct link claimed above is incorrect – “…Ozan Ibrisim, a senior adviser to Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews and Socialist Left stalwart, who joined Philip Morris as manager of regulatory affairs in June.” This implies that Ibrisim is continuing as senior advisor to the minister which I believe is incorrect, so put him down as another ‘ex’ ALP stakeholder, not an ongoing one.

    You are really scratching when you put forward an ex ALP staffer being a shareholder in a consulting firm which does work for big tobacco. “Ex-Jenny Macklin staffer Jess Sumich is a shareholder in Interconsult.” It’s not exactly a smoking gun.

    In your response to comments you claim that the story is about “ALP staffers who simultaneously lobby for the tobacco industry” and yet your story is almost completely lacking examples of of that. There is a bit of a gap between what you wanted to write about and what you actually wrote about.

  19. davidk

    Yes Mack, I noticed that. If Labor staffers are lobbying for Big tobacco they’re not doing a very good job given the move to plain packaging.

  20. Flower

    Yes beware of Andrew Crook’s mousetrap because the fact is that only the coalition, whose leader swings from the trees, accepts blood money from the drug dealers in tobacco companies.

    Speaking of shaved monkeys, however, we can thank Eric Abetz for the subterfuge which prevails with political donations when he proposed raising the disclosure level of donations from $1,500 to $10,000.

    The purpose of the Howard government’s “reform” was clearly a bid to hide donors from the public gaze and an affront to the Australian public.

    And something stinks in the lands of down under when Norway’s state pension fund, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth groups, sold off its shares in Rio Tinto in 2008, refusing to hold shares in Rio because it advised that the Anglo-Australian mining giant damages the environment – big time! Yet Rio et al are kings in Australia.

    Off topic? Not really!

    Jan du Plessis: Director of Rio Tinto plc and Rio Tinto Limited, effective 1 September 2008. Elected as chairman by shareholders at the 2009 AGMs.

    Skills and experience: Jan du Plessis was appointed chairman of the board of British American Tobacco plc in 2004 having been a non executive director since 1999…..!

    The booty from human misery is indeed profitable for pack animals who can prey on their victims with impunity.

  21. David

    Talking of Abetz where is the bl0whard, he of the email affair with Gretch, he who now hides from the gaze of the electorate, not to be seen in this campaign yet he is touted as one of Abbotts senior front benchers. He is a member of this “united team” of the Libs? Yet so senior he is locked away in Tasmania, to save the Coalition from more of his gaffes, eg the revelation of the return to work choices if this coalition is elected.

  22. Liz45

    As an ex smoker, anything that will either prevent people taking up this filthy dangerous and extremely addictive product I support. I don’t like people who lie to me, and I don’t like people who treat me as though I’m an idiot! ANDREW CROOKE, you should front us re who you are and who you’re working for! If the ALP no longer accept filthy money from these crooks and gangsters, then you don’t have a case! I’d suggest you find out what the Libs are doing.
    Today, Andrew Peacock made an insulting comment re “handicapped” people! He said that ‘only the handicapped wouldn’t be able to see how the Labor govt is’? or words to that effect!

    Only the other day I heard via the ABC that people who have a disability or disabilities are suffering physical and verbal forms of hateful abuse. This shit via Peacock just feeds that filth. There used to be the attitude, that people with a physical disability also were intellectually impaired. I’d hoped that more people had the decency to keep abreast of new information- apparently not! It should be noted, that even people with very obvious very severe physical disabilities can and frequently are, of higher intelligence – heaps more than Peacock – obviously!
    The ALP stopped taking money from Tobacco companies years ago – that should be the end of this nonsense!
    Try another topic Andrew!


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