Tuesday, November 20, 2007

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 pollbludger.com 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.


Anonymous said...

See page 11 of Australian Financial Review, Tuesday 20 November

Z said...

anonymous: found it. Thanks. Putting up the text I found for Google-seeding (and trying not to think about copyright law too much)

Anonymous said...

http://www.imsure.com.au/ the web site for these freaks1

Anonymous said...

I think it has been infiltrated by the CIA...or the American gun lobby.....the voices are oh so American!!!! be afraid, be very afraid!

Anonymous said...

those ads were all over pacific fair shopping centre televisions tonight, along with some dubious 'news headlines': 'Growth up 6%'... 'Striking teachers want too much'...
No authorisations to be seen there.

Anonymous said...

I found this guy who says he was the one who created the claymation.