A disgruntled green loans assessor, a former Victorian public servant turned climate sceptic and a Sydney pacemaker king are the figures behind a national series of rallies planned to shoot down Julia Gillard’s carbon tax.

Liberal Party-linked figures Jacques Laxale, Michael Cejnar and Colin Ely have all emerged as linchpins for the nationwide March 23 “No Carbon Tax” protests, which is hoping to drag thousands of everyday Australians on to the street following Tony Abbott’s clarion call for a “people’s revolt”.

Laxale, the designated spokesperson for the Consumers and Taxpayers Association — which until last week had three members — has been a dominant spokesperson on right-wing talkback radio over the last week cooking up support for the show of genuine grassroots people power.

He told Crikey he’d lost $3,000 through the axed Green Loans program and home insulation scheme anjd that both initiatives were an “absolute frigging disgrace”. Laxale’s insulation company is listed in this response from the commonwealth Fair Work Ombudsman to a question stemming from last year’s Budget Estimates process as one of the 7,556 businesses registered under the Home Insulation Program. Energised by his losses, he later joined anti-government rallies against Building the Education Revolution.

Laxale said he was “still in the building game” and has also been working as a part-time disability carer. The plucky Sydneysider has emerged as prime talent on 2GB presenter Chris Smith’s afternoons program, phoning in with updates and sprays against “Joo-liar”. A clearly chuffed Smith has agreed to host a live broadcast at Parliament House in the manner pioneered by Alan Jones during Murray Darling Basin fracas (Laxale said Jones has also been asked to descend on Canberra, but this is yet to be confirmed).

Dr Cejnar was mentioned in glowing terms in federal parliament last year by the former Liberal member for Ryan Michael Johnson, who said the good doctor had contacted him during the Liberals’ 2009 leadership ballot to urge a vote for Tony Abbott, later supplying him with a extra-large No Carbon Tax t-shirt. The No Carbon Tax website is registered to Cejnar through his company Micropace. Micropace, according to its website, is the US market leader in electrophysiology stimulators.

Cejnar and crew are prominent commenters on blogs and websites linked to anti-Islam Senator Cory Bernardi, including the notorious Menzies House site, edited by former leading Young Liberal Tim Andrews. Other online vanguards like stopgillardscarbontax.com and dontcopit.com have popped up to add fuel to the populist fire.

But it seems that Cejnar and Laxale could be struggling to match the levels of grassroots support seen during the 2007 WorkChoices protests or even a casual gathering of Socialist Alternative on the corner of Melbourne’s Bourke and Swanston Streets on a Friday night. The southern city’s protest is yet to be formally listed on the No Carbon Tax site and the Brisbane and Adelaide chapters are missing contact details.

Crikey can reveal that the Melbourne offensive is being spruiked by Colin Ely, a savvy climate sceptic who was ejected from a meeting of public servants in Melbourne’s Treasury Theatre last year by protective services officers. Ely has been busy sending around emails to the leaders of business lobby groups, the text of which makes for interesting reading. Renegade Liberal MLC Bernie Finn, Institute of Public Affairs kingpin Alan Moran and Institute for Private Enterprise director Des Moore are all set to appear as speakers. Writes Ely:

“Dear Mr ******

I am part of a group which is co-ordinating the Victorian arm of a series of nationwide, non-partisam protests against JooLIAR’s proposed Carbon Tax. These protests are being held on Wed 23/3 across all States. If ******* is going to be in Melbourne on that day, we would like to cordially invite *** to be one of our speakers. Other confirmed speakers so far are Bernie Finn MLC, Member for Western Metropolitan Region, Alan Moran, Director, Deregulation Unit, Institute for Public Administration and Des Moore, former Deputy Secretary of treasury and currently Director of the Institute for Private Enterprise. We are meeting at Federation Square at 10:30 and marching to Parliament House, Spring St.”

Crikey understands that the invitee in question recoiled in horror and its CEO won’t be attending.

Meanwhile, activist group GetUp! are apparently launching their own counter-protests, amid suggestions that the no carbon crew are being directed by forces within the Liberal Party and are therefore nothing more than astroturf.

Ely would seem to be an expert in the field, having previously run a home garden maintenance business. According to his website. “If you want your lawn mowed or your garden looked after”, Colin is the man to call.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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