This article is part of an in-depth investigation exposing aggressive disinformation outfit “Advance”. It has been solely funded by readers who care about our democracy and are prepared to fight for it. You can help by donating here.  

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The group that led the “No” campaign  against the Indigenous Voice — which claims it opposed the proposal because it was “divisive” — is explicitly seeking to divide the public and claims Australia is comprised of an “us” versus “them.” 

Advance, a US-style “false-flag” operation which claims to be a “grassroots” movement of “ordinary Aussies” but is in fact bankrolled by a handful of the super-rich, has also claimed full credit for the failure of the Voice referendum. 

In a Voice “campaign report” to supporters, Advance boasts of its successes, particularly on social media, which “has become a critical campaign tool” and “where our campaign thrived”. 

“Advance has claimed full credit for the failure of the Voice”

Advance’s “No” campaign comprised a murky network of at least six interconnected entities, which, as previously revealed, was all “run” from a fake national headquarters in Canberra’s CBD, by directors stating fake residential addresses. 

The campaign report sheds considerable light on the entity, whose directors refuse to front media, despite authorising and publishing vast quantities of disinformation. 

“The No campaign turned 65% Yes into 60% No” and had been “one of the most influential campaigns in Australian political history”, says the Advance report. 

“Victory in the Voice referendum! This win is all down to you!” 

Advance’s aggressive anti-Voice campaigning, which included a full-page racist advertisement in the Australian Financial Review, coincided with a collapse in support for the proposal, from almost 60% in April to just under 40% by the mid-October poll. 

The shadowy group continued pushing bigoty and racism ahead of this month’s Federal Dunkley by-election, including running a full-page advertisement in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper referring to immigrant “rapists, paedophiles and murderers” — although the seat was retained by the ALP. 

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A full-page newspaper add Advance ran in News Corporation’s Herald Sun. Source: Advance/Herald Sun


Advance claimed it was opposed to the Voice because, it said, the Voice was “divisive” and it “divided the nation by race” – yet Advance’s entire “No” campaign was marked by division. 

Its eight-page Voice “campaign report” provides yet more solid evidence that Advance’s fierce opposition to the Voice was not based on ideology or principle — as it claimed publicly for months — but was rather about defeating the proposal at any cost. 

“It provides yet more evidence Advance’s aim was defeating the Voice at any cost”

The document, dated “November” and posted to an obscure part of Advance’s website, says Advance used public concerns about “division” as its key strategy against the Voice because it learned that would sway voters. 

“Early in 2023 ADVANCE’s campaign team learned that ‘division’ was the key message,” the report states. 

“Early in 2023 ADVANCE’s campaign team learned that ‘division’ was the key message” — Advance

The report says “Australians did not want to be divided” and “as soon as they understood the Voice would do that, they moved into the No column”.

Yet while openly admitting it used the fear of “division” to push its agenda, Advance — in the same document — expressly pushes division. 

“It’s now ‘US’ versus ‘THEM’,” the newsletter states. 

“By committing to regular monthly giving to ADVANCE…you’ll keep the elites running scared,” writes Advance’s “executive director,” Matthew Sheahan. 

“It’s us against them now and we won’t be giving up.” 

“Australians did not want to be divided” – Advance

“It’s now ‘US’ versus ‘THEM’” – Also Advance

It’s “US versus THEM”, says Advance…which claimed it opposed the Voice due to “division”. Source: Advance


Advance rails against “the elites” and “the inner-city woke” and uses images depicting exhausted looking blue-collar workers— despite actually being bankrolled by a handful of the super-rich. 

Its Voice campaign document states: 

“Do you know who was fighting against you during the divisive Voice referendum?” 

“Labor, the Greens, the Teals, the elite corporates, the big banks, and the mainstream media, all hand-in-hand supporting the Yes campaign. 

“All of them, working as one. All fixed on changing this great nation forever. Australia is now about ‘them’ versus’ us’,” it states. 

“Australia is now about ‘them’ versus ‘us’” — Advance

Advance falsely claims to be a “grassroots” movement of “everyday Aussies”. Source: Advance


The document continues: “Too many Aussies are doing it tough while they rake in billions”. 

“Join the fight now and send them back to work for ‘us’.” 

As previously reported, Advance’s disclosed donors in 2021-22 boil down to just ten entities — and all have estimated fortunes in the tens of millions of dollars. 

And at least seven of the ten have estimated fortunes of $100 million or more, included billionaire Sam Kennard, owner of Kennard’s Self Storage. 

Most even appear in the nation’s media rich lists. 

They are the richest of the rich — the “super-elite”. 

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Advance’s declared donors in 2021-22. Source: AEC/Various. Graphic: The Klaxon


Advance says it had “18,000 volunteers” in its anti-Voice campaign. 

“3.7 million mailouts, 59,000 calls, 8,200 volunteers on prepoll and polling day: YOU stepped up and YOU delivered the win and saved Australian from being forever divided by race in the constitution,” the document says. 

“It’s your campaign that turned it around” Advance tells supporters. Source: Advance

The report states its “No” campaign videos were viewed “over 42 million times” on TikTok and it notched up 14.7m views on Instagram and 16.57m views on Facebook.

“Reliable polling had Yes at 65% less than a year before. 

“It’s your campaign that turned it around. It’s your win against them!” 

Advance’s aggressive disinformation campaigning corresponded with a collapse on support for the Voice. Source: Resolve Political Monitor


Advance and its three directors, Matthew Sheahan; Vicky Dunne, a former long-time ACT Liberal MP; and a “Laura Bradley”, have all refused to respond to The Klaxon despite repeated requests over the past five months. 

Neither Dunn or Bradley appears to have ever given a statement to media about Advance. 

Sheahan has been quoted by some outlets, yet in most reports media cites an unnamed “spokesman” or “spokesperson,” weakening accountability. 

Refusing to comment: The directors of Advance. Source: Supplied


Advance has repeatedly changed its name and previously called itself “Advance Australia”. 

Its legal name (formerly “Freedom Aus Limited“) is currently “Advance Aus Ltd”. 

The Voice would have provided Indigenous Australians with an advisory body to reduce waste and offer advice to Federal Government — which the government could ignore — such as regarding reducing waste in Indigenous spend. 

The advisory body would have been written into the constitution, meaning future governments would be unable to dismantle it — a common problem with such bodies previously — unless they held another referendum. 

“Future governments would have been unable to dismantle the Voice unless they held another referendum”

In its aggressive campaign against the Voice, Advance used a campaign brand “Fair Australia”, a front called “Not Enough”, an entity called “Australians for Unity (the “charity” arm of the network), as well as an entity called “Christians for Equality”, which was “endorsed” by far right “Christian” campaigner Lyle Shelton. 

Not one of the six entities had a telephone number, and all cited their address as Advance’s fake “headquarters” — a “virtual office” in Canberra’s CBD. (Advance pays a group called Regus about $85 a month to pretend it has an office at “Level 4, 15 Moore Street, Canberra City 2601” despite none of the entities having ever been located there. It also used this address in its official political “disclaimers” in its clinical campaign to defeat the Voice). 

Advance’s fake “national headquarters” in Canberra’s CBD. Source: The Klaxon


Further evidencing Advance was about defeating the Voice at any cost it ran contradictory arguments to different audiences through its shadowy web of affiliates and pop-up websites. 

Advance and “Fair Australia” claimed the Voice went too far while its front “Not Enough” — aimed at more progressive voters — said the Voice should be rejected because it didn’t go far enough.

Another arm, “Referendum for News” falsely held itself out as an impartial news source while spreading anti-Voice material. 

Those revelations put in context statements in the Advance campaign report. 

“By using different channels with different audiences, Advance changed the game in social media campaigning,” it states. 

Weeks before the referendum the Sydney Morning Herald revealed Advance was training phone campaign volunteers to introduce themselves, not as being from the “No campaign”, but as concerned members of the public associated with “Fair Australia”.

“If we had put [No] in the opening line…that in itself will scare people, right?” Advance campaigning chief Chris Ingllis was recorded saying on August 28, regarding the phone script.

“It’s not from the ’No campaign’…Fair Australia’s soft, it’s calming,” said Inglis, a former ACT Liberal staffer.

“When reason and emotion collide, emotion always wins.

“That feeling of uncertainty, of fear or doubt, that stays. That lasts for a very, very long time,” Inglis said.

“That feeling of uncertainty, of fear or doubt, that stays” — Chris Inglis

As previously reported, Advance has deep ties to the fossil fuels sector and runs an anti-renewables disinformation arm called “Not Zero”. 

Advance pushes anti-renewables disinformation. Fake Canberra address circled above. Source: “Not Zero”/Advance


In recent years, one of the biggest impediments to fossil fuels expansion globally — and so fossil fuels profits — has been Indigenous land rights. 

Fossil fuels executives, behind closed doors, discuss “black tape” as a “risk” and potential impediment to profit.

Coal billionaire Trevor St Baker, one of the nation’s most prolific fossil fuels spruikers, gave Advance $50,000 in 2022-23, Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) disclosures show. 

St Baker, who made the payments via his company St Baker Enterprises, accumulated his fortune through coal and fossil gas power stations, and has estimated net wealth of $1.21 billion, according to the Australian Financial Review rich list. 

“One of the biggest impediments to fossil fuels expansion globally has been Indigenous land rights”

Other major donors to Advance in 2022-23 — all also major donors to Advance in 2021-22 — included billionaire Kennard ($115,000); fund manager Simon Fenwick ($400,000); reclusive sporting teams and V8 Supercars mogul Brett Ralph ($50,000); and vitamins billionaire Marcus Blackmore ($20,000). 

Last week Kennard posted to social media in support of fossil fuels, using fossil fuels sector talking points.

Sam Kennard posts to social media last week. Source: LinkedIn


The Voice “Yes” campaign received large amounts of money from corporate donors, including $5m from the philanthropic Paul Ramsay Foundation, with much of that funding announced publicly by those donors during the campaign. 

By contrast, Advance refused to disclose its funders, and most of its major donors only become known publicly once AEC disclosures are released, which must occur by law on February 1 each year. 

In unprecedented scenes, media were not only barred from the “No” campaign’s official after function on October 14 — held at the ritzy Hyatt Regency hotel in Brisbane — media handlers refused to even say who was in attendance. 

The sole attendee spotted by media was Australia’s richest person, mining and fossil fuels multi-billionaire Gina Rinehart. 

Rinehart does not appear among the disclosed Advance donors in AEC filings to date. 

“Too many Aussies are doing it tough while they rake in billions” — Advance

Billionaire Sam Kennard and his Sydney Harbour-front mansion. Source: Supplied

Advance’s biggest donor by far is an entity called Hadley Holdings Pty Ltd, a Perth-based shell company which in 2022-23 made $1.025 million in payments to the group, more than double its next biggest backer in the year.

As previously revealed, that money was funnelled via an illegal company structure whose true ownership is hidden.

Retired Perth businessman Brian Anderson, 95, who is one of the two directors of Hadley Holdings, has told media he was behind at least some of the $1.025m.

Yet verification is not possible because the “beneficial” (ie, actual) owner/s of the companies in the structure are hidden — and Australia has no “beneficial owners” register.

Corporate regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is investigating after The Klaxon alerted it to the illegality last month.

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The ownership structure behind the biggest donor to “Advance”. Source: ASIC, AEC. Graphic: The Klaxon


Advance has been repeatedly caught spreading disinformation by falsely claiming support or endorsement from people that do not support it, including prominent Indigenous Australians.

Irene Watson, an Indigenous law professor and Pro Vice Chancellor of Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy at the University of South Australia; and Indigenous social commentator and writer Celeste Liddle were both used by Advance in its “No” campaign, despite both stating they did not support it.

Earlier this month The Klaxon revealed Advance had featured National Farmers Federation (NFF) president David Jochinke in a pro-Coalition and pro-fossil fuels attack ad, despite having “no authorisation” to do so.

The NFF said said it had “significant policy differences” to Advance on “important issues including climate change” and that it was “committed” to “helping Australia” achieve net zero.

Advance caught in sham Farmers Federation Ad. Source: The Klaxon


Advance’s anti-Voice campaign included a Jim Crowe-era, US-style hate cartoon depicting Indigenous Voice campaigner Thomas Mayo as a dancing money at the feet of two whites. 

The image is “authorised by” Sheahan — citing the fake Canberra address. 

“Authorised by Matthew Sheahan, Advance Aus Ltd Level 4, 15 Moore Street, Canberra City 2601”. Source: AFR


Advance continued its strategy of smoke-and-mirrors, bigotry and division ahead of the March 2 Federal by-election in the Melbourne bayside seat of Dunkley. 

In addition to its full-page Herald Sun newspaper advertisements about “rapists, paedophiles and murderers” from “immigration detention” it flooded social media with hate ads.

It posted to social media ads depicting splattered blood, hoodie-wearing “immigrants”.


The “wellbeing” of “ordinary Australians” was “at risk” and “immigrants” were to blame.

“Powerful elites” were enforcing a “blatant injustice” that “has threatened our national security”, according to Advance, in an ad depicting splattered blood.


One Advance ad featured a scared-looking white woman being followed on a dark street by an “immigrant” in a balaclava.

Source: Twitter/X


There were “criminal immigrants running loose”, said an Advance video, narrated with a heavy American accent.

“We have criminal immigrants running loose: Thanks Albo, this is on you and it’s your job to fix it”.

“We have criminal immigrants running loose” — Advance

“Criminal immigrants running loose”, according to Advance ahead of the Dunkley by-election. Source: Twitter/X


The “unprecedented campaign”  — which Sheahan told followers would be a “brutal shock and awe campaign in Dunkley” — reportedly cost around $350,000, more than that spent by the Liberal Party. 

Yet shortly after polls closed it became clear Advance had failed its sole stated aim of removing the ALP, which not only hold the seat, but with a healthy margin. 

“Everyday Aussies have had enough of Albo and his Labor/Greens/Teals agenda,” Advance posted to social media regardless. 

“And they were out with Advance today in Dunkley to send a message: Put Labor Last!”. 

“Thank you to everyone that came out today”. 

Source: Twitter/X

It ran at least two more similar photo collages, yet examination reveals they all boil down to just 20 images. 

Looking closer reveals the same people appear over, and over – while some photos feature no people at all.

Six of the people appear in at least two different shots — and two people are each featured in three different photographs. (Shown in colour coding). In all there are just 11 people.

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Source: Twitter/X


The actual impact of Advance on Dunkley is difficult to determine, but it failed in its sole stated aim of defeating the ALP, with Labor’s Jodie Balyea winning with a comfortable margin.

Shortly after polls closed, former long-time ABC political reporter Barrie Cassidy said preliminary evidence suggested the impact was minimal.

Source: Twitter/X


The swing of 3.5% against the ALP was exactly in line with the average 3.5% swing against incumbent governments at every by-election over the past four decades (since 1984).

The ALP saw a small lift in its primary vote, of 0.8%. The Liberal Party saw a swing of 6.7%. Those results were underpinned by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party not contesting the seat, with much of that support flowing to Liberal candidate Nathan Conroy.

The ALP retained Dunkley with a healthy margin. Source: ABC


Among other false claims and outright lies, the Advance’s “No” campaign report says “Labor, the Greens, the Teals and political elites” aim to “weaken our national security” and “abolish Australia Day”. 

“The woke agenda constantly challenges our core values,” says the US-style political disinformation group. 

Advance then asks for money to “support billboards, ads, rallies, and media appearances nationwide”. 

Source: Twitter/X


Australia has no truth in political advertising laws, which Advance aggressively exploits. 

Advance’s directors are legally accountable for its operations and public statements. 

The “No” campaign document says “the strategy is set”, there is a “woke onslaught” and “we” defeated “them” once and “we” can do it again. 

“It’s us against them now and we won’t be giving up,” says the super-rich funded false-flag outfit. 

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Anthony Klan

Editor, The Klaxon

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