Home Australia Andrew Robb — A Perfect Example of Feasting at the Political Trough

Andrew Robb — A Perfect Example of Feasting at the Political Trough

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(L to R) Andrew Robb, Adam Giles and Josh Frydenberg after The Northern Australia Investment Forum in Darwin

by Dee McLachlan

Imagine what our forefathers would have said if you told them the Minister of Trade facilitated the sale of an Australian port (Darwin) to a Chinese owned company (China) — and then quickly retired to work for them. Well that is kind of what has happened, except that, the Minister doesn’t have to do any work. And he’ll be getting at least three times what he was earning in Canberra for what?

This simply doesn’t pass the smell test.

I wonder what the average Australian picker or packer earning around $26 an hour (before tax) thinks of Andrew Robb’s generous deal. It has been revealed that the terms of his consulting deal with Landbridge are vague and ill-defined, yet Mr Robb gets paid $880,000 a year — even if he does nothing.  Maybe this is “normal” in the higher echelons of the global corporate business world. 

Trough Feeders

The former Minister of Trade, Andrew Robb, has to be the poster boy of the PTF — the Political Trough Feeders. What a prime example of taking advantage of one’s privileged government position to gain personal wealth after serving office.

The Financial Review published this photograph (above) on November, 23rd, 2015, taken at the Northern Australia Investment Forum in Darwin. One cannot be sure whether the then Minister of Trade wanted to be part of the photo opportunity or not, as the big news then was around the secrecy of leasing the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company for 99 years. The US was unhappy about it, and to quote the Financial Review article:

“Northern Territory Chief Minister Minister Adam Giles has labelled defence and security concerns over the 99-year lease of the Port of Darwin as a joke, and said there were no links between Landbridge and the Chinese Communist Party.

But today (6/12/2017) the Sydney Morning Herald reported that,

“Billionaire Ye Cheng [owner of Landbridge]… is also a member of the national Chinese People’s Consultative Committee, an advisory body that President Xi Jinping has directed to “uphold the CPC [Chinese Communist Party] leadership without wavering”.

We must ask this shocking question: how was the port “sold” in the first place?

The Port “Sale”

NT Oppostion Leader Michael Gunner described the deal as a “one-off cash grab” by the Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory (CLP). He also said that a decision “of this magnitude” should be determined by the people.

So how did the sale to a private Chinese company, with ties to the Chinese government, slip through so easily, Mr Robb?

In 2015, I remember thinking that we never heard a debate. We woke one morning and discovered it was a done deal — and that a profitable piece of infrastructure had been ‘sold off’ for a short-term windfall.

(photo – cairnspost.com.au)

And it looks like the $506 million is going to be spent very quickly. $100 million has been earmarked for a Ship Lift Facility to lift boats out of the water… for mainly servicing of Defence and Australian Border Force vessels. The loser in this deal is Cairns. Jobs will just migrate from the Cairns’ ship lifter to Darwin.

$50 million will be for power station upgrades. Are these power stations then going to be sold off? The stimulus also included $58 million for work at government schools and $10 million for private schools. It will probably be spent in less than a decade, missing out on 90 years of future inflationary revenue.

Darwin East Arm Wharf (photo – beefcentral)

Am I the only one who thinks this is madness? And the $500 million paid by Landbridge appears to be a LOAN from the Chinese government anyway. This in the SMH on 17 July, 2017:

“Chinese government trade bank may get mortgage over Australian port… The Chinese owner of the Port of Darwin lease is using the port as security to seek a loan of up to $500 million from the Chinese government’s trade bank.”

As Greg Buck has said: is this a case of money being printed out out of thin air, to buy (lease) the Port of Darwin (for 99 years)?

And was the then Minister of Trade, Mr Robb, instrumental in facilitating all this?

Media Release 

On 23 August 2015, the Trade and Investment Minister’s office published a media release that stated,

“Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb will visit… Hong Kong from 25 to 26 August, and will lead a senior business delegation to China from 26 to 28 August to pursue opportunities created by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

“In Hong Kong, Mr Robb will meet major investors across diverse sectors and promote investment opportunities arising from the Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia ahead of a major Northern Australian Investment Forum in Darwin in November…”

On 13 October 2015, The Australian reports that,

The Port of Darwin has been sold to Chinese petrochemicals and port operator Landbridge Group for $506 million, beating bids from Port of Brisbane and Colonial First State for one of the last available and fastest growing trade gateways in the country.”

On 6 November 2015, another media release stated that some of the world’s most significant investors will converge on Darwin.

(CR) Landbridge’s Ye Cheng and (FR) Andrew Robb at the Northern development conference in Darwin in November 2015. (photo – Glenn Campbell)

Andrew Robb was at the The Northern Australia Investment Forum in Darwin in November (2015), and is shown in the above photo, chatting with Landbridge owner, Ye Cheng. I wonder if they discussed how Mr Robb was going to be rewarded? I don’t see them back-scratching in the photo — so maybe they communicated through winks and nods.

On the 9th of  November 2015, the Free Trade Agreement legislation with China passes through the Senate.

Resignation to Consultancy

Mr Robb then announced his RETIREMENT from politics on the 10 February 2016. (He’s allowed to bow out before his term, but…)

Mr Robb then began working as a consultant to Chinese billionaire, Ye Cheng, on July 1, 2016 — the day before the federal election.

From his own bio, Mr Robb is currently also a Board Member of the Kidman cattle enterprise, Chair of Asialink, Asialink Business and CNSDose, and strategic advisor to Beef Innovations Australia, as well as a range of national and international businesses. In addition, Mr Robb is getting his generous parliamentary pension, plus the consulting fee from Billionaire Mr Ye Cheng.

Good on Mr Robb for being able to take advantage of his connections to feather his nest, but it seems that he has acted inappropriately. Is this allowed? This is what Howard Whitton said,

“The Prime Minister’s Statement of Ministerial Standards require Ministers to undertake that, on leaving office, they will not take personal advantage of information to which they have had access as a Minister, where that information is not generally available to the public. This obligation is not time-limited.”

How could a Minister going back into the private sector, after being in Canberra, not have an advantage? Mr Robb’s appointment as a board member of the Kidman cattle enterprise would seem to be a well-trodden pathway. And I would say it is natural that a high profile minister would enjoy a relationship with someone like Gina Rinehart. We sheeple understand that Mr Robb might become a candidate for the new cattle rancher’s board.

But the ‘sale’ of the port, and then become the foreign owner’s consultant, begs the question: when did the consultation begin? Was Mr Robb advising Mr Ye Cheng before the sale went through?

From my humble knowledge of Hollywood bookkeeping, it appears Mr Robb is being back-paid for “consultation” during the development phase of the sale. There is another word for it too: kick-back.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported today:

“Mr Ye frames much of his business activity, including the acquisition of the Port of Darwin lease, in terms of advancing Beijing’s ambitious global trade and infrastructure policy “One Belt, One Road”. Mr Robb has also advocated for Australia to back the policy.

“Former NSW judge Mr Whealy, who now chairs integrity NGO Transparency International, [said] ‘What I take from the letter is that the position of Andrew Robb does raise serious questions for a person formerly of high government position going into business with a company close to a foreign power. It is just extraordinary that aren’t more questions haven’t been asked about this deal.’

“But Mr Robb said his contract was ‘a typical commercial contract’, and that ‘I’m not doing business in Australia, so what is the relevance of my contract with the company? The contract is with a foreign company to do work in other foreign countries’.”

Mr Robb refers to this as typical. There is nothing typical about this scenario. As one government official said, it’s “a ‘disgraceful’ look for a former cabinet minister.”

I wonder if it passes the legal requirements of a retired politician? Should he be jailed for treason for compromising Australia’s interests? I don’t know. It does appear that he is one of the more obvious trough feeders.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Dee, when I saw this I thought “Heck, didn’t I write something for Gumshoe in 2015 about treason?” Yes, I just found it, and I encourage all Aussies to read it. Also, my article had a link to old articles by Dee including one that said:

    “I’ve written several times to Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, to ask if he has read the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. I have not heard a ‘Yes’ (but he is “engaged in, and negotiating the process”). Is it possible that Minister Robb is acting under personal pressure from foreign elements. If so, we should help the Minister and call in the Australian Federal Police.”

    There is also a strong comment by Ned saying that anyone with a conscriptable-age child should read Michael Rivero’s “All Wars Are Bankers’ Wars.”

    Is GumshoeNews the only serious political journal in Oz or what.

    Andrew Robb need to be arrested, by citizen’s arrest if necessary. Thank you for this article, Dee. Whether or not there’s a sin in Robb’s going to work for the Chinese company AFTER he leaves Parliament, it is now obvious that the sin was committed earlier when he shepherded the port of Darwin to foreign hands.

    Luckily for us, the award of $880,000 clarifies the treason involved.

    I hope the next time Aussies utter the after-dinner words “Pass the port” they will think of this event and be totally ashamed of themselves for not caring about their country.

  2. The timing with the pivot to China, and the deal getting up.
    Need to protect quarry Oz products getting to market maybe.
    JH at JP Morgan disturbs me more than Rob but , the Kidman deal seems to be billionaires doing journal entry changes for their preferred outcome . Kidman properties would have a lot of ghosts, so Robs just helping out , team player or running dog

    • A book about how the Chinese Communist party influences the high levels of Oz, is put on a back burner by publisher Allen and Unwin.

      Something at 4 mins about organ traffic.
      At 5 mins, SpringerNature self-censors under pressure from CCP.

      Thank you Berry.

  3. We us as having a share in colonization in the shadow of historical circumstance, I refer to crimes against China, such as the gun boat diplomacy and other crimes such as the opium drug saga, considering we have a karmic debt to China, we owe China the port and land acquisition and the general sale of assets on the cheap to the now rising star China, as America is giving up power in Asia, we the sinking ship can as Robb shows grab individually what ever we can for our private wealth and bank our questionable ill gotten wealth into overseas tax havens as demonstrated by our Prime minister has shown the way.
    Our politics must consume us as a nation not on petty issues of selling out to our new masters but we must concentrate on important issues of God blessing same sex couples and dual national citizens politicians, we have to get our priorities right and double tax overseas apple pickers, the real culprits who are destroying the fabric of our society.

    • Don, I am not entirely able to distinguish between yr sardonic remarks and t’other.

      But I would say Robb acted “correctly” if we are in a world where there is no structure. Is that what you meant? Some animal species have “scramble competition” — the ruthless will win, no negotiating is possible.

      Humans have a lot of restraint and instinctively go for a hierarchy. In modern times this means a more settled distribution of the benefits and burdens. We create a type of law that has regard for the weak as well as the strong.

      Yet it is possible for the cleverly corrupt to use every means of grabbing what they can — scramble competition. Then the law breaks down — as we see the judges are becoming more corrupted, so the weak can’t survive.

      In that situation you lose your incentive to be nice. There is no nice structure on which you can place your good deeds, such as sharing. “Don’t be a fool — take what you can.”

      Don, you are Gumshoe’s voice of the poor.

      Oh, speaking of which, thee’s a donate button somewhere on this website….

  4. My contribution to this article is about Adam Giles. Having lived and worked in the NT for 12 years 1991-2002. I know the players the politics and the crimes–a microcosm of the macrocosm. The smoke and mirrors.
    I made a submission to the Royal Commission re Youth Detention and Child Protection NT. Called immediately after the airing of the Australia’s Shame Four Corners exposure of what was happening at Dondale detention centre mid 2016. Turnbull Brandis Giles called for the inquiry, it appeared they had the Commissioner selected–he was forced to step down due to his past record.

    Will post a series of excerpts from media releases that shows how orchestrated these events are and how untouchable the key players are–and how most people have no idea what is really going on and how it is so stitched up.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-04/gina-rinehart-ushers-in-a-new-kidman-cattle-era/8586540
    “Gina Rinehart ushers in a new Kidman cattle era with big plans for Australia’s most famed pastoral estate
    Landline
    By national rural and regional correspondent Dominique Schwartz
    Updated
    “mining magnate and proud new co-owner of the Kidman cattle empire”,

    “”When we put in the extra water holes — we’re planning about 45 new water points — we’ll be able to put in another 9,000 head of cattle, so it’s going to be one of the big properties of Australia.”

    “When the ABC asked Mrs Rinehart about her view on fracking, she referred us to Adam Giles, the former Northern Territory chief minister who is now the spokesman for Hancock Prospecting’s pastoral business.”

    “Adam Giles’s new job with Gina Rinehart is “one of the reasons politicians have a bad reputation”, the new Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, has said.
    Giles, the former chief minister who lost his seat in the Northern Territory election last August, last month took up a job as general manager for external affairs (pastoral) at Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.”

  5. Follow up re Adam Giles.

    “The former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory has told a royal commission he does not recall being told of major failings in the youth detention system.
    Adam Giles was the Chief Minister in the Country Liberals Government when the ABC’s Four Corners program was broadcast detailing the mistreatment of juvenile prisoners in detention.
    Adam Giles has defended comments he made in 2010 that, if given the job of corrections minister, he would put criminals in “a big concrete hole”.

    “Mr Giles, who has spoken of his shock after this week’s Four Corners report into the treatment of youth inmates, told the NT Parliament while in opposition in 2010 he “would love to be the corrections minister” — a position he now holds after stripping John Elferink of the portfolio yesterday.”

    “During the 2010 sitting of parliament, Mr Giles had complained of the then-Labor government’s “soft and flaccid approach of the treatment of prisoners in the Northern Territory”, which he said was “having a detrimental effect on building the social fabric in our towns”.
    “It is not the portfolio I really aspire to but, if I was the prisons minister, I would build a big concrete hole and put all the bad criminals in there … ‘Right, you are in the hole, you are not coming out. Start learning about it’,” he said at the time.”

    Don Dale: Adam Giles says ‘can’t recall’ 60 times in first hour at NT inquiry
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-28/former-chief-quizzed-over-what-he-knew-of-detention-conditions/8480284

  6. Apologies for lengthy posts-it was that photo of Adam Giles that opened pandoras box-[an urn actually.]

    Shane Stone a person of significance

    NT News
    August 29, 2016 9:11am

    “Former Chief Minister Shane Stone vows to block Adam Giles’ move to federal politics
    A senior Northern Territory Liberal has vowed to block any attempt by ousted Chief Minister Adam Giles to move to federal politics.
    Shane Stone, who is also a former NT Chief Minister, has criticised Mr Giles for talking about his political future after the Country Liberals suffered a massive defeat in Saturday’s NT election.
    “If he … puts his hand up for the Senate, I will do everything within my power to defeat his pre-selection,” Mr Stone told ABC radio on Monday.”

    Published: 8:17 am, Wednesday, 15 November 2017

    “Recently re-elected Country Liberal Party president Shane Stone has resigned.
    A former Chief Minister and president of the Liberal Party of Australia, Mr Stone took on the CLP presidency to rebuild the party after it was reduced to two members at the 2016 NT election. In an email to party members Mr Stone said his resignation would be effective immediately so he can take on a new role.
    “Over the past week I have been exiting my ‘not for profit’ and commercial directorships in preparation for the above,” he said.
    “I have further advised the Parliamentary Leader Garry Higgins MLA of my decision and spoken with the two Vice Presidents, General Secretary and Territory Director.”
    In his email Mr Stone said he had requested that senior Vice President Jamie De Brennie be made acting president, pending a decision by the party’s management committee.
    But that move has angered some party members in Darwin who wanted to see Rhianna Harker installed as president.
    “Stone’s final act was to make a captain’s pick and put Jamie in over Rhianna,” one party member said.
    “The management committee is fuming. He has done all of this by email.”
    The saga ends an uneasy truce that has existed in the CLP since its disastrous showing at the 2016.
    Mr Stone had led a rebuild that had seen membership numbers increase and the party’s parlous financial position improve.
    But his resignation and the battle to replace him threatens to reopen old wounds and spark a return to the north/south divide between Darwin and Alice Springs.
    Mr Stone’s resignation comes while Party director Brad Vermeer is away working on the Queensland election campaign.”

  7. And above — what a fine trio. Trough feeder Robb, Concrete Giles… and ol’ Josh Frydenberg who believes in the 9-11 fairy tail — and agreeing with Julia Gillard’s “stupid and wrong”

  8. Have we people of Australia not voiced a strong enough opinion against selling off Federal and State owned enterprises? All the previous sell-offs have been to the profit of the buyer and increases in taxation to ordinary Aussies to make up for the lost revenue, provided by those enterprises before sale. As well as that the charges and fees to the public for these corporation services have increased substantially.

    I call for the Nationalisation of all previously Australian tax-payer owned organisations. I know that this will not be done, but I have recorded my protest.

    It seems to me, that several of these sell-offs have been of organisations that were set up under the rulings of the Constitution of Australia. If this is so, then the politicians who organised these sales should be charged with TREASON.

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