Sweet spin deal for the boys the latest rort

Richard Forbes, former media adviser to Nationals leader Mark Vaile, made a proposal to the PM and was given a contract, sans tender, for $189k for a project to show how well the bushfire recovery is going.

There are a number of problems here. If you ask people still living in makeshift accommodation – and that’s most – the answer will be that it’s way too slow.


A reasonable person would say this contract has an inherent conflict of interest….

……. especially since it hasn’t been tested against the market in a tender process.

Richard Forbes has a foot in the door, says he has ‘strong political connections’. He also has inside knowledge about how these things work and knows who to call. The Prime Minister is pictured with Forbes on his website.

The contract was said to be with the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, however, the AusTender website has it firmly with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The Prime Minister has presumably agreed to this ‘very short term’ contract with Forbes Lowndes for what is essentially a feel-good marketing exercise on the ‘recovery of communities affected by the 2019/20 bushfires’. Like the famous forced handshake, we doubt it will sell.

Covid restrictions, new building rules, clean-up difficulties, and shortages of tradespeople have slowed down recovery progress.  In Gippsland 458 houses were destroyed and for the majority, reconstruction has still not started. 

And, as the Guardian finds, there’s more. 

Peter Crone, former senior economic adviser to John Howard won a contract for ‘economic advice’ worth $136k and last month was appointed as a commissioner to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 

Back in June, it was reported that taxpayers funded $500k for market research by Jim Reed – researcher for the Liberal Party pollster, Crosby Textor – another ‘limited tender’ contract. We suspect it’s purely political – how-to-win-the-next-election – but can’t know because The Guardian was told:

… disclosure would, or could reasonably be expected to, restrict the ability of the NCC advisory board to fully engage with, and harness the expertise and resources of, the business and broader Australian community, which would be at odds with the express purpose of the NCC advisory board. 

Pull the other one…

The Canberra bubble the PM so despises has morphed into an LNP mates bubble in which anything goes in the lucrative, revolving door of adviser/contractor/consultant.

See our Rorts Watch for the growing list 

Photo by Nolan Di Meo on Unsplash

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