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Lobbying For Gain: Nick Warner And Australia’s Revolving Door

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Lobbying For Gain: Nick Warner And Australia’s Revolving Door


Submitted by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Governments have an almost crippling trouble appreciating conflicts of interest.  Since tentacle-heavy lobby groups decided to move into the world’s capitals to make the case for their clients, the revolving door has become the sickening feature of politics.  Former bureaucrats, public service officials and elected representatives find few problems with joining the very lobby groups that once pressured them to change policy.  This seamless movement of sewerage makes accountable governance a hag and transparency a bed-bound dream.

The indifference shown by political wonks and private sector lobbyists to this practice is reflected in an abundant literature that is enchanted by it.  Be it in organisational or management studies, you are bound to find work that even approves of the phenomenon, suggesting that people with abundant skills and contacts obtained while serving their country should be made use of on leaving their positions.  The significance here lies in the benefits that accrue to those in the market place (the lobbyists and companies) rather than the political needs of transparency and accountability.  A co-authored article in Managerial Finance from 2015 is almost prosaic in observing over the sample period of study that “firms which hire former politicians as directors or executives have significantly positive long-term abnormal returns”.  Hardly earth shattering.

In Australia, the greased revolving door is swift to giddying effect.  In critical industries, those formerly in government and public office make their slime strewn way into the corporate sector while still retaining compromising links.  In 2019, a study published in Public Health and Research Practice examined the background of 569 individuals whose names are on the federal lobbyist register.  The authors of the study were keen to examine the lobbying effect of companies in the alcohol, food and gambling industries.  As they rightly point out, “the development of public health policy often runs counter to the interests of” such companies.  To undermine the making of such policy is an essential feature of their revolving door strategy, an effort to capture the regulatory field.

Of those surveyed, 197 had declared to have previously worked within government.  In this happy tribal collective were found 122 former representatives of government: 18% had been members of parliament or senators; 47% had held positions as chiefs of staff or senior advisors.  The authors conducted 15 key informant interviews which found the inevitable effect of such influence.  “Interviewees stated that they believed the revolving door created an imbalance between industry and public health advocates in terms of their access, advocacy and influence with government.”

Things are not much better in the defence and security industries, pockmarked as they are by appointments with a direct line to government officials.  In recent years, the examples have multiplied.  Dr Tony Lindsay, one of the country’s most notable defence scientists, farewelled his role as Chief of National Security Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division in Defence, Science and Technology on October 28, 2016 only to take up an appointment, a few days later, with Lockheed Martin.

The multi-billion dollar contractor is more than knee-deep with the Defence Department, having signed partnership agreements and running a scheme of industry placements for DST staff.  Lindsay’s Lockheed move was to take up the position of Director of the then newly established STELaRLab, the company’s first R&D lab outside the United States.

Michelle Fahy of Michael West Media remarked at the time that the decision was “a good example of how the revolving door between the public sector and military-related private industry in Australia is being facilitated by both sides.”  Justifications to keeping such a process opaque follow a predictable copybook: journalists and the public should be kept in blissful ignorance for reasons of “national security” and “commercial in confidence” restrictions.

Another tactic of obfuscation lies in the world semantics.  Avoid using such terms as “lobbying”, which emits an unnecessary pungency.  Focus, instead, on such platitudinous terms as “strategic adviser” and the giving of “strategic advice”.  This was particularly evident in justifying the role of former defence minister Christopher Pyne, who even went so far as to commence discussions with Ernst and Young Defence while still in the ministerial portfolio.  Within nine days of leaving politics, he was hired as a consultant and careful with his words.  “I’m looking forward to providing strategic advice to EY,” he told The Australian, “as the firm looks to expand its footprint in the defence industry.”

The most recent and startling instance of this is the case of Nick Warner, who completed his term as the first Director-General of the Office of National Intelligence last December.  He has also served as Director-General of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and secretary of the Department of Defence.  His resume also has the lacing of various overseas roles: ambassador to Iran, high commissioner to Papua New Guinea, and special coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

Without so much as a murmur, Warner was retained by the Melbourne-based advisory firm Dragoman as a counsellor.  The company’s appetite is considerable and global, having previously included developing “a government strategy for an Australian provider of project and asset management services in the energy, chemicals and resources sectors.”  The company is not shy in emphasising the “alignment with Australia’s national interest.”

Dragoman’s managing director and only publicly declared lobbyist is former Liberal Party vice-president Tom Harley; its chairman of counsellors is former defence minister Robert Hill.  Other counsellors, for good measure, include Ambassador Thomas Shannon, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs of the US State Department and Malcolm Rifkind, former British foreign minister and minister for defence.

Warner’s new role at Dragoman is not all that piques the interest.  The Canberra security and intelligence veteran, as revealed by the ABC, began being remunerated for consultancy services for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) in January this year.  Questions posed by the national broadcaster to Harley, Warner and Dragoman on potential conflicts of interests have been treated with icy silence.

Federal Labor MP Julian Hill, deputy chair of Parliament’s Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, is also querying Warner’s engagement.  “The Prime Minister’s got some serious questions to answer about this whole arrangement.”  It was not clear what work Warner was engaged in “and how and if conflicts of interest are being managed”.  A man with “access to the most privileged secrets of Australia, more than most ministers would ever get” had concluded his tenure in the public sector, only to now work for “a lobbying firm whilst separately contracted by the Prime Minister.”  Perhaps Warner, in his wisdom, is merely providing well thought out, strategic advice.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com


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Just Me

Realistically Australia is a no-body but a US vassal with a British cultural racist cringe. It produces nothing and is living off China, but for how long is the real dilemma. It has a totally brainwashed subservient population that is fed Zionist police state propaganda 24/7.

Jens Holm

You are nothing knowing nothing. Do You have internet?????

They are 13 in GDP which is something. Pr capita they are 10 making 50.000 dollar each.

What do You compare with – NOTHING. It seemes You have no idea about any relations to anything apart from what comming out from Your behind. .


Frankly, you are an idiot.


Where do you reside in?


That was then,this is now,thanks for your unsolicted concern,however Q Is Australian,drr!


We are all fed “police state propaganda 24/7”. To quote Jimi James, “Yes the usa corporate fascists are our enemy”, but t is much larger than that.
Dr. Mercola speaking on Covid, points out the use of Public Relations Agencies that are tied into promoting the UN/WHO narrative.
“The Publicis Groupe, a leading PR firm, represents major companies within the technology, pharmaceutical and banking industries. These companies, in turn, have various partnerships with the U.S. government and global nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)”
The Web of Players Trying to Silence Truth

Jens Holm

Its a matter of level. In west its normal to make many products and compare them and choose the ones, which most of the time is best to the price.

That sometimes gets into monopoly, which has to be kept down and goes for Australia as well. Its shown parts are in bad hands. .


For a British penal colony with an largely ignorant population of barely 25 million Australia seems to have a hugely inflated opinion of its place under the sun. It amounts to nothing in the new Eurasian millennium,

Jens Holm

I dont think most of the australiens are like that. I many years worked as porter on a hotel. We had many by bus from the whole commenwelth.

None of those middleclas Australians was like that.

They know their structure is very kapitalistic and sometimes difficult by too few too big owners, but they are not “inflated”.


# 1 coal export,#2 gas export,#2 gold producer,5th most traded currenct on earth.
You seem to have it in for they who needed to poach half a loaf of bread to bring to their familys during british poverty,which makes you,the goi with the french wig.judge?
You will be judged,lest it be reminded jealousy are they cursed,not they redeemed.
Wheres the good old sports these days,whats wrong with they afraid to ask for the truth?

Try Australasian,2nd lagest coastline on earth to russia,you’d think there’s more to it than
metts the eye of the beholder,but atleast we don’t need to devour freedom like soros+ co!


Frankly, Australia is a corrupt US controlled police state with a small insignificant population living off China.


Absurd,sorry frankie,not into bullsht,unless you are reffering to abbott the maggot and turncoat (both sacked for obvious reasons,some mentioned above yes,media too,but truth is they do not control our infastructures,nor exports,nor imports,nor societys (period)
We don’t need guns,just to live our lifes in fear like certain others who failed democracy!


6 of the 8 mens quarter finalists in oz open are orthodoxy,I suppose that means nothing too:


Nice wrap,the difference being we are leading the civilised democratic world fighting against corporations by manner you specified blatantly obvious,however there are they whom represent the fastidious culted deep state minions,whoms conclusions could only define the opposite of the realm,well like it or not is is very significant,because it eludes the fascist notions,whilst the same time co developes to co exist with other absolute world powers includes usa,china,india,japan,korea and a host of other asean nations,whilst readyness to collaborate with the uk and others willing to partake in nationalist expansion,where the unconstituated and darstardly fascist corporations
relish at the bottom of the heap,trying to resolve their own degenerate fuckfestive self inflicted loss!
Stay safe”

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