Thursday, November 22, 2007

Focus on Australia Foundation has a website

From a commentor:

The site doesn't show up easily from a Google search because it's all done in Flash. I mean its all done in Flash. Yick.

Whois lists the registrant of the domain name as Allan David Green, same person that owned Focus on Australia Foundation's trustee company Kuduru Pty Ltd before he handed it off to Gayle Le Bon on October 23. All their claymation ads are available from the site: anti-union, pro-Workchoices, anti-green (or possibly anti-dodo, it's kind of hard to tell), pro-mature aged education. That last one seems kind of random.

Their policies are in that Flash awfulness as well, which makes copy-and-paste hard: they aim to "promote and foster" things like "freedom of contract between commercial parties", "fair and equitable workplace relations laws", "public policy which supports and encourages families as a social unit in Australia", access to high quality healthcare and education and..oh hell I'm not going to type all that out, suffice it to say that they're looking to give money to institutions and people that promote their goals and to enter into alliances and what have you with organisations that promote similar goals to their own. Their main schtick seems to be pro-business, which seems intermingled with a pro-family agenda too. That's an odd combination. Well, maybe not for Hillsong, but they're a New South Wales outfit aren't they? These FOAF people are in Queensland.

Anything else? They're wanting FOAF to be "a collective voice that reaches out to our nation promoting Values that sustain our Australia's abundance" (the capital V on Values and the use of the grammatically weird but plausibly accurate phrase "our Australia's abundance" are both in the original website). Their contact address is a PO Box, which is different from their registered place of business in Coomera.

My tentative impression is either astro-turfing body or (far less likely) slush fund. I'm not sure for who.

That fake "Islamic Australia Federation" ad

Courtesy of my boyfriend Nick, here is the full text of the leaflet that Federal Liberal MP Jackie Kelly's husband, Gary Clark, and member of the NSW Liberal Party state executive, Jeff Egan were distributing in St Marys (a place where I very briefly went to high school, incidentally). Full details are in many Australian papers, including the Daily Telegraph somewhat suprisingly to me:Libs handed out fake Muslim flyers.
UPDATE: here's a PDF which includes the graphics used and the "Ala Akba[sic]" at the end: click here

The role of the Islamic Australia Federation is to support Islamic Australians by providing a strong network within Islamic Australia.

Muslims supporting Muslims within the community and assisting and showing christian Australians the glorious path to Islam.

In the upcoming federal election we strongly support the ALP as our preferred party to govern this country and urge all other Muslims to do the same.

The leading role of the ALP in supporting our faith at both state and local government levels has been exceptional and we look further to further support when Kevin Rudd leads this country.

We gratefully acknowledge Labor's support to forgive our Muslim brothers who have been unjustly sentenced to death for the Bali bombings.

Labor supports our new Mosque construction and we hope, with the support or funding of local and state governments, to open our new Mosque in St Marys soon.

Labor was the only political party to support the entry to this country of our Grand Mufti reverend Sheik al-Hilaly (sic) and we thank Hon Paul Keating for over-turning the objections of ASIO to allow our Grand Mufti to enter this country.

Jackie Kelly's response has been that it was all a "Chaser-style" prank. The Chaser's response: "It's a bit of a worry when the best argument you have to defend your ethical practices is that you were doing what The Chaser does".

In any case, it should be possible for people to judge for themselves whether or not they agree with Mrs Kelly's claim of the text printed here that "If you read it you would be laughing".

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Article on Focus on Australia Foundation: "Small business funds trust behind television ads"

Full text of the Australian Financial Review article found in the Deep Web (gotta love that database access). This probably isn't that big a deal given the extremely primitive nature of the ads, but I think it should always be possible to have at least some idea of who's responsible for political advertising.

Small business funds trust behind television ads
Fleur Anderson
159 words
20 November 2007
Australian Financial Review (Abstracts)
Copyright 2007 Media Monitors Australia Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved

A number of small businesses have funded an anti-union advertising campaign that has been running on commercial television networks and on SBS in recent weeks. The Gold Coast-based Focus on Australia Foundation's ads urge voters: 'Don't give your vote to unions' and 'Thinking clears the vision, WorkChoices is a bright idea.' The campaign was authorised by Gayle Le Bon, the sole director, secretary, and shareholder of Focus' trustee company, Kuduru Pty Ltd. Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show the company was previously set up, owned and run since 1997 by Allan David Green, who resigned as director and secretary and transferred his three shares to Ms Le Bon on October 23. No suggestions of improper conduct were made against Mr Green.

Political ads: who is "Focus on Australia Foundation"?

I was watching the morning news and was a little surprised by the sheer number of ads that the Coalition has apparently bought - I swear there was at least one warning about a Labor government run by "union fanatics" (Gillard), "environmental extremists" (Garrett) and "learners" (Swan and Rudd) every single ad break. But I also saw two odd political ads from an outfit I've never heard of before. I can't find the first ad on youtube, but it featured a short claymation skit of a voter putting his vote into some sort of monster thingy that had "union" written on it, which got activated by the vote getting put into it and then ate the voter. The voice-over message was something like "know what it is you're voting for". Pretty standard anti-union/anti-Labor stuff, except it never mentioned Labor even once.

The second one got put up on Youtube by someone because they thought it was so odd:"it's a green dodo!".

So: anti-union/anti-Labor, and anti-environmentalist/anti-Green I guess, although it is kind of hard to tell what the hell that green dodo's supposed to be about. It's very childish.

Both ads listed the sponsor of the ad as something called the "Focus on Australia Foundation", based in Coomera, Qld. Standard google search turns up, in total, someone asking about them on in the comments about an AC Nielson poll on Wentworth, and noting that they seem to be very much an "under the radar" sort of set-up.

Google blogsearch comes up with this person also wondering what's up with the green dodo crap. He says he found something in ASIC but I can't find what he's referring to as yet.

I did find this in the ABN register: the ABN of the Trustee of the Focus on Australia Foundation Trust: 19 779 196 982. Postcode for this is 4209, same as Coomera. The ABN has been active only since 24 Oct 2007. It's a "discretionary investment trust" per the ABR. A discretionary trust is apparently a "A trust that is neither a fixed trust nor a hybrid trust and under which a person or persons benefit from income or capital of the trust upon the exercise of a discretion by a person or persons, usually the trustee." As a discretionary investment trust "the main source of income of the discretionary trust is from investment activities" (thank you ABR help glossary).

I'm really not sure what this is about, but I don't like it. Independent organisations putting up political attack ads isn't bad per se, but I generally like to know who's doing it and why (case in point: Getup). For this FOAF thing, there's no website, no contact details and the only easy-to-acess business record suggests that money's being funneled to it via a trust. Am I correct in my suspicions that this set-up very effectively conceals the source of its funding and the identity of the person who's running it?

The only other lead is that the actual person who authorised the ads was named "G. Lebon". I don't expect much luck in tracing that. I have my suspicions about who's behind all this naturally: Family First or The Exclusive Brethren would be the people I'd name as willing and able to do these sorts of under the table shenanigans. But as yet there's no proof of anyone's involvement.

I intend to keep looking through other sources of information available to me as time permits.