The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Bailey’s staffer kept lobbyist in the loop
SECRET text exchanges between Labor-aligned lobbyist Evan Moorhead and a senior adviser to Transport Minister Mark Bailey are being kept under wraps amid claims they are party political.
The text messages were identified after a Right to Information request by The Sunday Mail for communications between Mr Moorhead’s lobbying firm Anacta and Mr Bailey’s office.
Mr Moorhead, who owns Anacta with fellow Laborlinked lobbyist David Nelson, was in the spotlight over concerns he was being paid by Labor as a political adviser before the 2020 election while working as a lobbyist.
Records show Anacta contacted officials dozens of times before the election, while Labor election pledges benefited Anacta clients, including train builder Downer EDI.
Mr Moorhead has rejected any wrongdoing, saying there was a clear separation between Anacta’s campaign work and its work for clients.
RTI decision-makers initially agreed to release the text messages under RTI, but that was overturned after Mr Bailey’s office objected.
The secrecy relates to two text messages in March and June last year between Mr Moorhead and senior policy adviser Brett Reed. They were deemed out of reach of RTI on the basis the exchanges were party political.
It is the second time in as many months the government has argued documents were party political and out of reach of RTI after blocking access to emails between Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Mr Bailey using their private email accounts.
Exchanges released between Mr Moorhead and Mr Reed reveal regular calls and “courtesy” texts about looming political problems for the Palaszczuk government.
In one, Mr Reed warns Mr Moorhead the Maritime Union “is coming your way” over an industrial fight with its shipping client SeaSwift.
Mr Moorhead had also placed a “courtesy call” to Mr Reed to warn the government it could feature in media coverage on the SeaSwift dispute with the union.
The contact was not on the register of contact between lobbyists and government but an Anacta spokesman said SeaSwift was not a lobbying client, rather it had been engaged to provide communication services. It later began lobbying for SeaSwift and had since disclosed eight instances of lobbying contact, he added.
Records also show text messages and calls involving the struggling taxi industry, with the minister’s office asking Mr
Moorhead for advice ahead of a teleconference with Black and White Cabs, which later became a lobbying client. Mr Moorhead also messaged to warn Mr Bailey the limousine industry was “preparing to blow up” over a planned rescue package. An Anacta spokesman said it was passed on “by way of courtesy” and did not have to be declared because it did not relate to Black & White Cabs. All disclosures relating to lobbying for the taxi industry met its regulatory obligations, he said. Mr Bailey’s spokesman said staff “maintain contact with businesses, organisations, employees and their representatives across the transport and roads portfolio”.
“That is an expectation and natural consequence of their roles,” he said. 31