Crosby Textor, the consultancy firm co-founded by the Liberal Party’s chief pollster, has re-emerged as a major lobbying force in Canberra.
The firm now has 20 clients listed on the federal lobbyists register, up from zero immediately after the September 7 federal election. That number is expected to grow as businesses and other organisations seek to influence the Abbott government.
Founded in 2002 by former Liberal Party federal director Lynton Crosby and polling guru Mark Textor, Crosby Textor prospered as a lobbying outfit during the Howard years. But the firm withdrew from the Canberra scene soon after Kevin Rudd’s election to focus on political campaigning, corporate advice and lobbying Liberal state governments. The firm also lobbies for clients in Britain which has caused political headaches for the ruling Conservative Party, given Crosby is also the party’s election campaign director.
Crosby Textor’s current federal client list includes the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, the Australian Rugby League Commission and Reconciliation Australia. Infrastructure, health and renewable energy companies also feature.
APPEA is the leading lobby group for the oil and gas industry, and is campaigning to increase community and government support for the contentious coal seam gas sector. Reconciliation Australia is leading the push to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the constitution. And the ARL hired Crosby Textor earlier this year to help the traditionally Labor-aligned code build bridges with the Coalition, as Fairfax’s Roy Masters has noted. Tony Abbott pledged millions of dollars in federal funds for league stadium upgrades during the election campaign.
The client list of Liberal-aligned firm Barton Deakin, led in Canberra by former Howard chief-of-staff Grahame Morris, has also ballooned. Barton Deakin now boasts 48 firms on the federal register including Apple, Leighton Holdings and McDonald’s. As Crikey reported last month, there has been an influx of Liberal-aligned lobbyists in Canberra since the federal election.
Rival lobbyists will be closely watching whether Crosby Textor re-opens its Canberra office, which the firm closed in the early Rudd years. Crosby Textor was previously represented in the capital by Jannette Cotterell, who has since gone on to found her own consultancy.
It appears, at least for now, Textor has no plans to work the corridors of Parliament House on behalf of his firm’s clients. Crosby Textor’s lobbyist profile lists eight employees who conduct lobbying activities — including CEO Remo Nogarotto — but managing director Textor is not among them.
Despite their impeccable Liberal credentials, Crosby and Textor have long maintained that firms use their services because of strategic nous rather than access. Earlier this year Textor, who works as a pollster for the Liberal Party at a state and federal level, described lobbyists as a “pathetic miserable industry” of door-openers. He told Crikey last month: “The days of people winking and nodding and saying ‘I’ve got influence’ are over. Today, clients want people with campaigning and research expertise.”
Textor did not respond to calls this morning.