The “elite” and “inner-city woke” were the enemy — according to shadowy outfit “Advance Aust Ltd”, the nerve centre of the whole operation.
Advance, by contrast, was a “grassroots campaign” of “Ordinary Aussies” with “mainstream values”, it told the nation.
“More of us are worried about what woke politicians and inner-city elites are doing to our country,” it told Australians.
“We believe Australia is a free country. But you wouldn’t know it from the way woke politicians and the inner-city elites carry on”.
It used images depicting hardworking blue-collar Australians, as it ran its clinical campaign against a Indigenous Australians being provided a Voice to parliament.
“Mainstream Australia is under siege by stupid laws and woke ideologies…cooked up by elites that have no idea what it’s like to work for a living,” said Advance, all while harvesting thousands of emails.
“More of us are worried about what…inner-city elites are doing to our country” — Advance
“Advance is committed to putting everyday Aussies upfront”. Source: Advance
Only it was a monstrous lie.
The “No” movement was a precision executed sham — bankrolled by the super-rich.
The “elite” of the “elite”.
The most recent Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) filing for Advance, for the year to June 30 2022, lists 21 “donors”.
Investigations show they boil down to just ten entities.
“Investigations show they boil down to just ten entities”
Many are obscured with payments made via holding companies, often with post office boxes listed for addresses.
Following the money trail — working backwards from the highly sophisticated campaign of disinformation and the lies that flooded the airwaves and social media — leads to a handful of the mega rich.
The trail leads to the front doors of mansions in Toorak, Portsea, Vaucluse, Bellevue Hill and Double Bay.
To the owners of super yachts, private aeroplanes, ski chalets, vineyards — even entire sporting teams.
Investigations show these people aren’t even “the 1 per cent” — that storied slither of society’s richest.
The super-elite funders of Advance. Source: AEC/Various. Graphic: The Klaxon
Eight of the ten entities has estimated wealth of $100 million or more.
Most even appear on the nation’s “rich lists” — again, literally.
On the night of the referendum, after voting closed, there were extraordinary scenes: the “No” campaign event, at the salubrious Hyatt Regency in Brisbane, was held in secret.
Media weren’t allowed in — media handlers wouldn’t even say who was in attendance.
It was unprecedented. (More below).
ABC journalist Patricia Karvelas reports on the spectacle. Source: Twitter/X
A small handful of “No” campaign funders have publicly stated their position, including storage billionaire Sam Kennard, vitamins tycoon Marcus Blackmore and financier Simon Fenwick — but it appears most don’t want any attention.
A deep investigation into the backers of Advance reveals some fascinating details, including some previously unknown links.
Linked are two of Sydney’s wealthiest families: the O’Neil family, whose inherited riches originated with mining quarries, and members Taylors Wines Taylor family — with donations coming from the same post office box, in Sydney’s exclusive Double Bay.
Investigations show another of those bankrolling Advance is Lyn Brazil, who is a director of mining company Aurelia Metals Limited, and has estimated personal wealth of over $300 million.
Advance’s disclosed donors boil down to just 10 entities. Source: AEC. Graphic: The Klaxon
1. The O’Neils & the Taylors
Estimated wealth: $240m & $200m+
Rodney and Judith O’Neil (inset left), the Palm Beach trophy home of Janet O’Neil (top right); and Vaucluse mansion of Colin and Helen O’Neil (bottom right). Source: Various. Graphic: The Klaxon
Five payments totalling $130,000 came from four holding companies all registered to the same Double Bay post office box.
Three of the holding companies, SixMileBridge Pty Limited, Nedigi Pty Limited and Willimbury Pty Ltd (which together contributed $75,000) are all owned by members of the mega-wealthy O’Neil family.
Little-known outside the elite of Sydney’s wealthy eastern suburbs, the family made its money in mining, quarries and concrete under late patriarch Les O’Neil, who had eight children.
(The family appeared in the The Australian Financial Review rich list as far back as 1990.)
The owners and directors of SixMileBridge are Les O’Neil’s son 83-year-old son Rodney O’Neil and his wife Judith O’Neil, 78, both of a sprawling mansion in Rupertswood Avenue in Sydney’s super-rich enclave of Bellevue Hill.
“It is the beginning of an exciting new era for our family winery”, said “third-generation winemaker” Mitchell Taylor.
Mitchell Taylor (59, of Rose Bay) and brothers Justin Taylor (53, of Vaucluse) and Clinton Taylor (52, also of Vaucluse) are directors and owners of Telowar Pty Ltd.
The other directors and owners are Loretta Anne Taylor, (86, of Vaucluse); Angela O’Neil Cattana, (61, of Rose Bay) and Victoria O’Neil Taylor (63, of Darling Point, also in Sydney’s east).
Telowar Pty Ltd and Nedigi Pty Ltd (along with sharing the same Double Bay post office box in AEC filings) list the same “registered address” in companies records — a Sydney CBD office at Level 24, 1 O’Connell St.
“Mainstream Australia is under siege by stupid laws and woke ideologies…cooked up by elites that have no idea what it’s like to work for a living” – Advance
2. Brett Ralph
Estimated net wealth: $100m+
Brett Ralph bought most of Dick Johnston’s V8 Super Car racing team in January. Source: Various. Graphic: The Klaxon
Two payments, one $25,000 and one $50,000, were made to Advance in the 2022 financial year by JMR Management Consultancy Services Pty Ltd, a company fully owned and controlled by multi-millionaire Brett Ralph.
The relatively little-known Ralph owns couriers company Jet Couriers, which has “branches in all six Australian states” and “an international presence in Auckland, Dallas, Houston, New York and Philadelphia”.
Fenwick purchased his Mosman mansion, with views straight out to Sydney’s Heads, in 2016 for $9m.
He is, very conservatively, estimated to have a net wealth of $50m.
Fenwick is a director of the University of Queensland Endowment Fund.
“More of us are worried about what woke politicians and inner-city elites are doing to our country” – Advance
4. John & Gabrielle Hull
Estimated wealth: $40 million+
John and Gabriele Hull at a UQ event (inset) and the family company. Source: UQ/JF Hull. Graphic: The Klaxon
Brisbane multi-millionaires John and Gabrielle Hull made payments to Advance of $25,000 and a $20,000 respectively in the 2022 financial year.
John is the owner of major Brisbane-based civil engineering contracting company JF Hull Holdings, which “specialises in the field of concrete construction” and turns over tens of millions of dollars a year.
The Brisbane couple are substantial donors to the University of Queensland.
They have a conservatively estimated net wealth of $40m.
He also owns property in the exclusive enclaves of Victoria’s Portsea — on “Portsea’s clifftop” — and Queensland’s Noosa, where he bough an oceanfront “penthouse-style” apartment for $6.9 million in 2018.
In 2020 the Tristram’s lodged an application for a multi-million dollar redevelopment of their absolute beachfront Gold Coast property on Mermaid Beach’s Hedges Avenue, also known as “millionaires row”.
In March last year a rich-list reported Trisco generates “an estimated $33.510 million in sales each year”.
9. Lyn Brazil
Estimated wealth: $300 million
Cattle tycoon, property developer, venture capitalist and mining executive Lyn Brazil. Source: Supplied. Graphic: The Klaxon
Advance received $20,000 from Brazil Farming in the 2022 financial year.
Brazil Farming is owned and controlled by cattle tycoon, property developer, venture capitalist and mining executive, Lyn Brazil.
“Lyn Brazil…said media estimates that his is worth $210 million are conservative and indicated it could be closer to $300 million,” the AFR reported in 2016.
At the time he was selling a giant Northern territory cattle station for around $18m.
The firm “is one of Australia’s most trusted private wealth firms” and provides “holistic advice to over $3.5 billion in assets”, Garnaut says on its site.
Company filings show Denton is an “alternate director” of real estate fund management company Fawkner Property, of which Garnaut, 62, is a director (and which is also based in St Kilda office building).
A full-page racist cartoon Advance ran in the Australian Financial Review. Source: Advance
The latest donors to Advance, for the year to June, won’t be known until next year, given peak federal political disclosure laws.
In the 2022 financial year, its AEC filing states, Advance received total donations of $2.24m.
The sources of donations of $14,500 or less were not required to be disclosed.
The disclosed 21 donations, from the ten entities, totalled $723,422.
Anti-Voice campaigning by Advance and its arm “Fair Australia”. Source: Advance/Fair Australia
As is well documented, the “Yes” campaign raised substantially more money and was far better resourced that the anti-Voice campaign.
But the impact of the “No” campaign shows the devastating effectiveness of clinical, precision lying – particularly via bombarding social media.
There are no laws against lying in federal political advertising or in referendums.
Advance has a history of lying to the public.
Before last year’s federal election, it ran billboards falsely claiming independents, including now Senator David Pocock were actually secretly Greens candidates. It also ran advertisements of the Chinese President “voting” for the ALP.
Advance has a history of lying to the Australian public. Source: Supplied
While Advance had been vocal about its opposition to the Voice for some time, its disinformation campaign ramped up when Opposition leader Peter Dutton in April declared the Liberal Party was opposed.
The impact was devastating. Support for the Voice, previously around 60 per cent, plunged to 43 per cent before the poll.
The entities include Advance Aust Ltd and its campaign brand Fair Australia (which both claim the Voice goes too far); “Not Enough” (a site suggesting the Voice doesn’t go far enough”); Australians for Unity (the “charity” arm of the network) and “Referendum for News” (which falsely holds itself out as an impartial news source).
None had, or has, a telephone number, rather an email address corresponding to each entity or website name.
Requests for comment were not responded to.
The only “directors” are Matthew Sheahan, a Laura Jean Bradley; and Vicki Dunn — a long-time Liberal MP in the ACT Government.
The “responsible people” for Australians for Unity, also the three directors of Advance Aust Ltd. Source: ACNC/Various. Graphic: The Klaxon
In signed documents filed with the ASIC, Bradley and Sheahan falsely stated their home addresses as “Suite 5, 245 Fullerton Road, Eastwood SA” — which is the Adelaide office of a law firm called Oakbridge Lawyers.
Despite having “authorised” the vast majority of the political statements of the Advance campaign, very little is known about Sheahan, who appears to have no online presence before he appeared in connection with Advance (then Advance Australia) about two years ago.
Steve Baxter, who is buying a $31, seaplane, poses with his AeroCommander 690-A VH-ATF. Source: Twitter/X
Despite repeated requests, the organisers refused to say who else was present, although the next day vastly wealthy Queensland tech entrepreneur Steve Baxter posted to social media that he had been in attendance.
(A request from The Klaxon for more information was rejected).
Last year it was reported Baxter had pre-ordered a sea plane, “a new version of the legendary Albatross flying boat”, to be built in Darwin, costing him US$20m ($31.1m).
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