Hire more “messengers”: Deathly silent Anglicare in desperate PR overhaul
It’s facing one of the biggest scandals in its history but it hasn’t made a single public comment since the news of its CEO’s tax haven past broke almost a month ago. This is despite Anglicare having an entire “team” of communications people. Now the private aged care giant is seeking to spend even more of the $200 million-plus it gets from taxpayers each year employing yet more highly paid PR’s. Anthony Klan reports…
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Embattled aged care giant Anglicare is seeking to overhaul its “communications” operations after being rocked by explosive revelations that its current CEO previously headed the world-wide tax affairs of a major global arm of multi-billion dollar international tax cheat Coca-Cola.
Instead of responding to media inquiries or, apparently, taking any real action, Anglicare Sydney has advertised for three new positions in an attempt to reshape its image, including seeking to appoint a new “head of corporate communications” to manage “crisis responses”.
The advertisements reveal Anglicare, which received $233 million from taxpayers in the 2019 financial year alone, has an entire “team” of public relations staff.
Anglicare is seeking, for the “newly created role” of head of corporate communications, a “seasoned communications professional” who can “influence” and “manage media relations”, including “managing any crisis communications responses”, the LinkedIn advertisement says.
“We require a seasoned communication professional with significant experience who can influence, advise and manage internal and external clients to minimise the potential impact of emerging issues to appropriately position the Anglicare brand,” the advertisement says.
Former Anglicare Sydney PR head Chris Pettett says he will be “getting a new boss”. Source: LinkedIn
“Your superior communications skills will see you manage media relations and take the lead in managing any crisis communications responses.”
Anglicare is seeking to replace Chris Pettett, who has only been with Anglicare since February, having earlier worked as a NSW Government political adviser and as a “strategic communications officer” for Sydney’s WestConnex motorway.
“Some of you have seen this role advertised and have asked if I’m moving on from Anglicare. Far from it,” Pettett, Anglicare’s existing head of PR, posted to LinkedIn.
“We are increasing our depth of communications and I will be getting a new boss”.
The advertisement for a new PR head was posted on Wednesday last week (September 23).
Two weeks ago Anglicare Sydney also advertised for an “internal communications coordinator”.
Yesterday evening Anglicare Sydney advertised for a “media and policy officer” to “join our Public Affairs and wider customer experience team”.
The role includes “providing back-up” for “crisis management requirements”.
Key responsibilities include developing a “media relations program” and to “liaise with relevant contacts (national, metropolitan, regional and Christian media outlets)” in order to “increase effective coverage of Anglicare that enhances our role as a trusted commentator”.
Also stated in that job description is the requirement to “respond rapidly” to “reputation related inquiries, seeking input from managers where required”.
The brief is directly at odds with Anglicare Sydney’s actions since September 4 when The Klaxon exposed Millard’s tax haven past.
Since then Anglicare Sydney has refused to make any comment whatsoever about the scandal involving its CEO, despite our repeated requests.
Neither Hammond, Millard, the Anglicare board – or anyone else at Anglicare – has denied any of the highly damning revelations about Millard’s past, which involved shifting money through international tax-havens for much of the 13 years he spent at Coca-Cola.
The Coca-Cola Company is a confirmed tax cheat, having been forced to pay billions to US authorities after being caught evading tax by funnelling money through international tax havens.
Anglicare Sydney chairman Hammond and the entire Anglicare board appear to have taken zero action against CEO Grant Millard – who attempted to abuse Australia’s strict defamation laws to prevent the news of his past being made public.
The communications overhaul highly suggests that rather than exercise good corporate governance – as Anglicare’s board members are legally required to do under the Corporations Act – Hammond and the other board members are attempting to further pervert or silence the public discourse about Millard and his tax haven past.
Millard is a corporate lawyer and tax accountant.
Anglicare chairman Greg Hammond is also a corporate lawyer.
Before September 4 Anglicare threatened at least two major newspapers with “defamation” if they published the news of Hammond’s past.
Millard’s tax haven HQ: “home” to at least 5 Luxembourg companies used by Millard to transfer money around globe. Source: Google Street View
The revelations were contained in a formal report by the conducted by corporate tax expert Jason Ward of the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR).
CICTAR’s forensic report says Millard spent 13 years directing Coca-Cola’s global tax affairs, included a period when Coca-Cola was “aggressively avoiding income tax payments”, depriving governments of billions of dollars that could otherwise be used to “fund health and social services”.
Neither of the two major newspapers ran the highly important story – even though there is enormous public interest in the sector and that there is a Royal Commission into aged care currently underway.
The failure to publish was also despite the CICTAR report having been submitted to, and accepted by, an ongoing Federal Government senate inquiry into the aged care sector.
That means the report and its contents are entirely protected under parliamentary privilege laws and can’t be used as basis for defamation or any similar legal action.
Anglicare also threatened Ward, who is CICTAR’s principal analyst and the author of the report, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent him and CICTAR from making the revelations about Millard public.
Grant Millard – Anglicare Sydney’s tax haven CEO. Source: Supplied
Within hours of publishing our first expose on September 4, detailing Millard’s tax haven past, Millard – and unspecified “other officers” of Anglicare Sydney – sent serious legal threats to The Klaxon, including threatening an “injunction”, “costs” and demanding an “urgent takedown” of the article.
We declined to take down the article as the matter is extremely important and very much in the public interest.
Since then not only have we heard nothing more of the legal threats, but Anglicare, Millard, Hammond and the other Anglicare directors have all refused to provide us with any comment whatsoever, despite our many requests.
Other than the legal threat from Anglicare’s lawyers MinterEllison – and the multiple, unsuccessful approaches by us to Anglicare seeking comment – the only engagement we have had with Anglicare was a discussion with head of communications Pettett before we published our first expose on September 4.
Pettett said of The Klaxon “never heard of it”.
He then asked that we send him written questions.
We did this, but received nothing back.
Following the first article on September 4, we ran an expose on September 10 which contained company documents proving Millard, as head of tax for the Coca-Cola Hellenic Brewing Company, had run a string of shell companies in the notorious European tax haven of Luxembourg.
Last week, on September 24, we ran another article detailing the Luxembourg suburban home where Millard’s five companies all “operated” from – though only on paper (for the entire period in question Millard had been based in Athens, Greece, 2,300km away).
Given the apparent serious corporate governance failures involving Anglicare’s board, the matter is expected to further escalate, and is now set to draw in Anglicare’s owner, the Anglican Church.
Anglicare Sydney’s advertisement for the position of head of corporate communications says it is “essential” that the successful applicant have a “working knowledge of the Australian political system”.
“Your working knowledge of the Australian political system, the Sydney metropolitan and regional media and publications and how they operate is essential as well as the ability to work flexibly and to tight deadlines”, says one grammatically incorrect sentence.
“Managing a small team of communications professionals, you will ensure the strategic implementation of a public affairs strategy and government relations plan and develop communication strategies to support Anglicare’s purpose,” the LinkedIn advertisement states.
It continues: “The successful candidate will be a senior leader aligned with our Christian Values who can balance compassion with justice, demonstrate integrity with grace, and strive for excellence in all that they do.”
Millard has been under fire, after Coronavirus swept through Anglicare’s Newmarch House aged care facility in Sydney’s west from April 11, infecting at least 71 people and causing the deaths of 19 residents.
Since July 2016, when Millard became CEO, Anglicare has received over $850m from taxpayers. In just the past six years, all during Hammond’s tenure as chairman, it has received around $1.25 billion from taxpayers.
We sent a series of questions to Anglicare Sydney on Tuesday but the group has again failed to respond.
We asked Anglicare Sydney whether the Anglicare board, led by Hammond, had taken any action following the revelations regarding CEO Millard; how many people Anglicare Sydney employed in its communications “team”; why Anglicare Sydney was growing its communications/PR operations; and why Anglicare Sydney was “increasing its depth of communications” when it didn’t appear to be using the resources it currently had, evidenced by the group’s refusal to respond to The Klaxon’s inquiries over the past month.
We also put the following to chairman Hammond specifically: “Anglicare is advertising for a new head of corporate communications, who can ‘influence, advise and manage internal and external clients to minimise the potential impact of emerging issues to appropriately position the Anglicare brand’.”
“It appears that rather than adhering to appropriate corporate governance and taking action about Mr Millard’s tax haven past you are instead trying to cover up the scandal by making Anglicare’s communications ‘team’ even bigger.
“Why are you doing this?”
We received no response.
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