Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Bob Burton

Careers Australia digs deep to donate to the Tasmanian Liberals

While the controversial private training company Careers Australia, a major donor to the Tasmanian Liberal Party, insists it has no dealings with the Tasmanian Government, neither Premier Will Hodgman or Minister for Education and Training, Jeremy Rockliff, would confirm or deny contact with Careers Australia representatives.

Mystery also surrounds donations by the company to the federal Liberal Party and its ties to Tasmanian Liberal powerbroker Senator Eric Abetz.

According to Careers Australia’s political disclosure returns to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), the Liberal Party in Tasmania has emerged as the political donations darling of the company even though it has few students and no campus in the state.

In the 2014-15 financial year – the latest year returns to the AEC are available for – Careers Australia donated $58,650 to political parties in Australia, with the majority to various branches of the Liberal Party. The Tasmanian Liberal Party – which received $23,500 – was the single biggest recipient of Careers Australia Group’s political largesse.

Careers Australia is adamant its donations to the Tasmanian Liberal Party have nothing to do with Tasmanian issues. “We have had no dealings with the State Liberal Government and have no plans to engage with them,” a Careers Australia spokesperson insisted in an email.

Tasmanian Times sought clarification from Premier Will Hodgman and the Minister for Education and Training, Jeremy Rockliff, on whether they had had any contact with Careers Australia representatives such as at formal meetings, through correspondence or contact at Liberal Party events. (As part of his portfolio Rockliff has responsibility for TAFE, which is in direct competition with the private training companies.)

The Tasmanian Government Ministers neither confirmed nor denied contact with Careers Australia representatives. “The Premier and Deputy Premier come in contact with a wide range of industry representatives in formal and informal settings. There is no connection between Liberal party donations and decisions made by the government. We adhere to a strict code of conduct,” a government spokesperson stated in an email.

However, courting state politicians is familiar territory for Careers Australia.

Back in October 2013 the then Queensland Minister for Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek and his Chief-of-Staff had a dinner meeting with McKendry and the board of Careers Australia. (In its most recent return to the AEC, Careers Australia disclosed it donated to both the Liberal National Party and the Labor Party in Queensland.)

If, as Careers Australia insist, the company has had “no dealings” with the Tasmanian Government, why has the company suddenly emerged as a major donor to the Tasmanian Liberal Party?

The federal connection

In its initial disclosure to the AEC the Tasmanian Liberal Party reported it had received two $10,000 donations on March 18, 2014 from Careers Australia CEO, Patrick McKendry.

The Liberal Party later amended its return to record the donation as having come from Careers Australia rather than being a personal donation from McKendry himself.

Careers Australia’s initial $20,000 donation in the 2014-15 financial year to the Tasmanian Liberal Party, the company stated, was for a March 2015 fundraiser for the “Federal Government” [sic] which was organised by the local branch and attended by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Careers Australia declined to respond directly to whether the federal fundraiser was hosted by Senator Eric Abetz, who was Federal Minister for Employment in the Abbott government at the time and in July 2014 had launched a company initiative at which McKendry was present. Tasmanian Times does not suggest the donations have directly or indirectly influenced Mr Abetz’s decision-making.

Nor did the company respond directly to a question as to whether Senator Abetz was in attendance at the March 2015 fundraiser. “The guest list is a matter for the Tasmania Liberal Party,” a spokeswoman for Careers Australia stated. No response was received from Senator Abetz on whether he hosted or attended the mid-March fundraiser.

Careers Australia’s returns to the AEC indicate two other donations to the Tasmanian Liberals as well: a donation of $2200 on August 5, 2014 and a further $1300 on June 9, 2015.

However, the company did not respond directly to questions on whether these were payments to attend Tasmanian Liberal fundraising events and whether these funds were also for the use of the federal party.

The federal Liberal Party in Canberra was also a beneficiary of Careers Australia’s political donations. On June 11, 2015 the party disclosed it received an $11,000 donation from the company.

Careers Australia did not directly respond to questions from Tasmanian Times on whether this donation was made to attend the 21st Anniversary Dinner for Senator Eric Abetz at the Wrest Point Hotel Casino in Hobart, which was held on June 12.

No response was forthcoming from Senator Abetz on whether the $11,000 donation was for the celebratory dinner while a spokesperson for the federal Liberal Party said the two were unrelated.

Amongst the 400 guests in attendance were Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott and former Prime Minister John Howard. (The Tasmanian Liberal Party’s AEC disclosure return revealed a June 30 debt of $38,324 to Wrest Point Hotel Casino. The Tasmanian Liberal Party’s State Director, Sam McQuestin, did not respond to a request seeking clarification on whether this was for the outstanding cost of Abetz’s celebration dinner.)

Careers Australia also declined to elaborate on why it donates to political parties and how it decides on the allocation between states and between political parties. “Many companies make donations to political parties for a range of reasons. It is not a practice unique to Careers Australia,” stated a company spokesperson.

Careers Australia also declined to answer whether it made political donations to the Tasmanian Liberal Party in the 2015-16 financial year, which are not due to be reported until February next year.

Bob Burton is a Hobart-based Contributing Editor of Tasmanian Times. His earlier articles on Tasmanian Times are here.

If you would like to be added to his email alert list for when new articles are published you can sign-up here.

Tasmanian Times (TT) is free – always has been, always will be. If you like what TT does, please consider making a donation.

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• August 22, 2016: Over 600 Tasmanians caught up in Careers Australia marketing scandal

• May 24, 2016: Damning findings on training company spark calls for Tasmanian Liberals to return donations

• May 5, 2016: Tasmanian Liberals land private training company as a major donor

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  1. Lynne Newington

    August 31, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    How can voters expect to have any faith in political parties. With Tony Abbott accepting the Rolex [could be bugged someone suggested] watch from who knows what connection there may have been to Communists and now Sam Dastyari seeking personal financial favours from similiar connections.
    No wonder the Northern Territory was so free in selling off Australian assests……..they’re the good guys now for those prepared to sell our soul.

  2. William Boeder

    August 22, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    The matter of the $4,000,000 plus in political party donations received by the Federal Liberal party that has been sequestered by the NSW AEC for the lack of applicable identifying details, the penalty for doing so is double the amount of that inappropriate amount of money.
    So for the Liberal party to ‘make a claim’ toward this sequester money it will cost them $8,000,000 plus dollars to do so.

    Given the fact that White Collar Crime is a steadily increasing burden upon Australia’s society while generally practiced by members of the financial services sector, yet the Federal government are doing the least to bring these malfeasant financial industry business operations or their directors to some sort of disciplinary account.
    These Regulatory Authorities themselves are now being held strictly to the new principles given them by the current Liberal party back office controllers.
    I myself believe that one of these persons is our Attorney General George Brandis QC) as possibly the main individual who controls the mechanics of our once far more formidable Financial Regulator, being the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority. (APRA.)
    The new appointees to this authority would be under the scrutiny of and or a by a recommendation from the office of the Federal Attorney General.


  3. TV Resident

    August 22, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you for the link…William Boeder. After reading everything I could find on there, I now believe that these ‘dodgy’ people are ALL sucking from the public teat, on the quiet, while in return they are getting favours, worth millions of $$$s more, from the reluctant taxpayer via gov’t representatives. It appears that the politicians and the business rep’s are all patting each other on the back and laughing all the way to the bank, tax havens of course, while milking the taxpayers dry. It’s way past time for a National ICAC. But I can’t see this happening as politicians are afraid of just what and who would be exposed. It’s pathetic really.

  4. William Boeder

    August 22, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    #3. TV Resident the link below will offer how these dodgy doings are inter-related.
    (Ignore misspelling in this link.)

  5. Jack B Nimble

    August 22, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I have to agree with # 3, I believe they are nothing more than an organized crime syndicate, and they have the gall to label themselves Honorable Members.

    J Nimble.

  6. William Boeder

    August 22, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Bob Burton, well done for cracking open and exposing this malignant manifestation of the Liberals (both State and Federal) for living the high life at the cost of the taxpayers when celebrating major Liberal donor deals.

    There was little attempt to cover up the way the Liberals do deals to provide revenues to their numerous donors with their being allocated a major government contract.

    The fact that this donor (Careers Australia) has done quite well for itself from the time of its arrival on the non-job creating scene, yet acting in the role of career specialists then delivering almost bugger all in return to the nil-skilled list of supposed career studying recipients.

    Then that many of these clients or targets would later find that they are in hock to the Federal government.

    Careers Australia had commenced their operations in 2006 and have since become a major taxpayer-money recipient, this sort of success is quite often found to be when it is a business entity (no matter how unscrupulous) that has been gifted a huge chunk of the Federal government education expenses budget.

    Naturally and in line with Liberal party policy, is that they have been found by investigators to be a dodgy organization, then that they do not welcome any probes into their high pressure door to door special deal selling methods.

    Then there is the fact that Abetz was mired in this suspicious Tasmanian get together which had in attendance the former core-promising but bull-shitting John (Fibber) Howard, Tony (don’t expect the truth from me) Abbott, then a motley of their carpet-bagger colleagues and mates.

    Was our State of Tasmania to benefit from this hideaway in Tasmania Liberal party snorkel-fest, no, I would hardly expect that this was on the snorkel agenda said a snorkel spokesperson.

    This fact has since been confirmed by another of the snorkel-fest attendees.


  7. TV Resident

    August 22, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Why are politicians and political parties so dodgy??? and more to the point how do they get away with taking ‘bribes’ from businesses???

  8. mike seabrook

    August 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    and don’t forget the aluminium smelter and the zinc works which are also sucking deeply on the tassie treasury tit with their extraordinary electricity contracts courtesy of the directors appointed by the pollies to the hydro

  9. Chris

    August 22, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    A spokesman said, is a way of saying that the person is caught out and ain’t gunna say any thing to gain transparency.

    Like saying the Choc Top Kid did not reply or the Honorable member who aint goin’ to enlighten you because he cannot reply truthfully.

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