Mable aged care app
(Image: Mable/Facebook)

Inq’s reporting on a federal government contract awarded to labour-sourcing platform Mable Technologies has drawn a “disappointed” response from Mable’s PR company, which has asked us to point out that individuals we referred to as shareholders of Mable are not shareholders at all. The individuals include three with Liberal party links.

So when is a shareholder not a shareholder?

One such is leading Sydney investment banker Mathew Playfair. Playfair, Inq reported, was publicly acknowledged by Liberal MP Dave Sharma for his help in Sharma’s 2019 election campaign in Malcolm Turnbull’s old seat of Wentworth. Sharma bracketed Playfair with members of the Liberal party in his thank you speech in parliament.

Playfair is a shareholder in a company called Prual Pty Ltd (as seen here in the company’s ASIC record).

And according to ASIC, Prual Pty Ltd is a shareholder of Mable Technologies Pty Ltd. It’s on Mable’s shareholder record:

Mable, though, says this does not make Playfair, the individual, a “shareholder” in the company.

In the most technical sense that might be right. But in reality? You be the judge. What’s clear is that those with an interest in the company, such as Playfair, stand to gain from Mable’s success.

We also asked Mable how it suggested we describe the individuals, if not as shareholders. We didn’t receive an answer to that.

Inq sought comment from three of those who we reported as having Liberal party links: Playfair, lawyer Lucinda Aboud who made a donation of $20,000 to the Liberal party according to electoral commission records, and lawyer and company director Ray Whitten. Whitten confirmed he was the vice president and former president of the Liberal Party’s Double Bay branch. Inq received no response from Aboud or Playfair.

Mable’s PR company told us that “no shareholders of Mable nor any of their connections” were involved in discussions relating to the award of the federal government contract in April — a response we previously reported.

The point about our stories is transparency in government contracting. Faith in government is low. So when a company with a well-connected group of investors and entrepreneurs is awarded a near $6 million contract without open tender and no public reporting on the performance of the contract, then it is fair to ask: what happened? 

It’s particularly important when one of the country’s major media groups has a financial relationship with Mable. 

And on that score we are happy to record Mable’s assertion that News Corp’s support through the Scaleup media fund is “closer to $500,000”. For this the Mable name is promoted across News-owned media platforms. 

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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