The Exclusive Brethren’s manipulation of election campaigns has been a major influence in politics. Now it’s been revealed how companies infiltrate the political sphere to direct major decisions in their favour.
Multinational packaging company Amcor who owned the PaperlinX woodchip and paper mill in the Latrobe Valley, were involved in corporate spying on green groups in the 1990s. The current company “PaperlinX” (makers of Reflex paper) said the spy and lobby group, the “A team”, was set up under previous management so denied any connection.
ABC’s Four Corners program reported in November that the A-team was funded and supported by Amcor and the logging division within the CFMEU. It ran a decade-long “elaborate covert campaign to spy on and sabotage environmental groups, to infiltrate political parties and to damage Amcor’s corporate competitors”.
Documents show Amcor paid out $300,000 a year to fund the group, which ran public and secret operations out of offices supplied by Amcor at their paper factory site.
Forestry union secretary, Michael O’Connor, wouldn’t answer questions about the group his union supported and his members staffed.
Why was this logging union pulling out all stops to oppose and publicly intimidate community groups? One of the A-team’s plans was to split and weaken a local environment group in South Gippsland. Friends of the Gippsland Bush was trying to protect forests Amcor was trying to get access to. After a couple of carefully targeted members signed an agreement with Amcor, the CFMEU’s lawyers, Slater & Gordon, sent the remaining group members a legal letter warning them not to use the name Friends of the Gippsland Bush, because it had been registered to others. That group then became dysfunctional.
The A-team also infiltrated the ALP, stacked and ran its environment policy committee in the late 1990s. A Labor source said it was no secret that the committee was bought and paid for by Amcor. The policy originally written by the committee would have opened up 40% of Victorian forests to logging. We have to wonder if this policy is still what the Bracks Government uses. The large paper company even now has easy and dirt cheap access to huge areas of valuable native forest in Melbourne’s water catchments, the Central Highlands, South Gippsland and other important forests. The A-Team helped secure the company’s supply of native forests for its woodchips. That licence is now legislated and long-term.