Adani lobbyist and former Queensland Labor Party state secretary Cameron Milner, who played a key role in the 2015 election win of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, has returned to Labor headquarters.
On August 30, The Australian revealed that Milner, who is also federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s former chief of staff, is volunteering with the ALP while keeping his day job as director and registered lobbyist at Next Level Strategic Services (NLSS), which counts among its clients Indian miner Adani.
Milner, who was a high-profile Labor party strategist, met in April and May with Palaszczuk and her chief of staff David Barbagallo to negotiate a royalties deal for Adani, after a cabinet factional revolt threatened the state’s largest mining project.
NLSS co-director David Moore, a Liberal-National Party stalwart who was former Premier Campbell Newman’s chief of staff, is expected to volunteer with the LNP campaign. Moore worked as former deputy premier Jeff Seeney's chief of staff and was Mal Brough’s chief of staff during the John Howard government. After working on the campaign that led Newman to victory in 2012, Moore left government to set up his lobbying business.
Labor state secretary Evan Moorhead said he was confident Milner’s voluntary role with the campaign was not a conflict of interest with his role as a lobbyist.
When asked whether Milner’s dual roles represented a conflict of interest, a spokesperson for Palaszczuk said: “In every election cycle, people from all walks of life and a wide variety of professions volunteer their time to help see a Labor government re-elected. Cameron Milner is one such person.”
The close relationship between Adani and both LNP and ALP has been a matter of public record for more than two years. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on July 4, 2015: “Adani's key lobbying firm is Next Level Strategic Services, led by David Moore and Cameron Milner.”
While there may not have been any technical breach of the code of conduct, which requires a two-year cooling off period for political staffers transitioning to lobbying, it is apparent that the support of both ALP and LNP for the Adani project reflects an improper relationship.
In spite of community opposition, government decisions favouring Adani, such as the royalty holiday and water permits, indicate the influence of the special relationship between Adani’s lobbyists and the ALP.
Reports that Milner is working on Labor’s re-election campaign have received a strong response from groups opposing the Adani project. The day The Australian reported on his new role, Galilee Blockade gatecrashed Deputy Premier Jackie Trad’s press conference asking about Milner’s role. They had previously protested at a $5000 a plate fundraising dinner held by the ALP (attended by coal executives, among other corporate executives) where Trad and federal shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese were on the menu.
Lobby group GetUp! said both Labor and the LNP were “too close to the mining industry, to the detriment of the people of Queensland”.
GetUp! climate campaign director Sam Regester said: “The Palaszczuk government is making decisions about Adani’s royalties, infrastructure and environmental approvals. It’s a massive conflict of interest to have Adani’s lobbyist engaged in [Labor’s] election campaign.”
The Greens have called for Milner to be barred from involvement in Labor’s campaign.
The Socialist Alliance candidate for the Brisbane seat of McConnel, Kamala Emanuel, told Green Left Weekly: “This latest report that Adani lobbyist Cameron Milner is also working for the ALP election campaign should come as no surprise. It is another example of how Labor is in bed with Adani and will defer to mining interests rather than govern in the interests of the community and the planet.
“There have been numerous other examples of key ALP figures who, after making a career in politics, jump ship: Martin Ferguson, Greg Combet and Anna Bligh are just three. Like the LNP, the ALP seems happy to be held hostage to the mining and financial lobby.
“What is needed is a complete shift from the Tweedledum Tweedledee two-party system. Recent elections in the US and Britain demonstrated that people want to be represented by politicians and political parties committed to meeting the needs of people and the planet, not the greed of the corporations.”