Politics Analysis

Central 'No' campaign lobby hiding behind wall of lies

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Advance has been hiding its identity with blatant lies, so what does it have to hide? (Image by Dan Jensen)

The central and by far most powerful and influential “No” campaign lobby is a sham.

Two-thirds of the directors of the fake “grassroots” campaign network have filed fake residential addresses with regulators; none of its at least six arms has a telephone number; and the entire operation is “based” at a fake national headquarters.

Minutes from Parliament House, in Canberra’s CBD, is the “address” of the Advance (now officially calling itself “Advance Aus Ltd”) campaign, a murky network of at least six interconnected entities that lobbied against an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

That address has been posted across the nation, on campaign flyers, in the fine print on its string of pop-up internet sites and in the advertisements pumped out via its shadowy web of affiliates that are flooding social media.

Also in a full-page, racist advertisement in The Australian Financial Review.

‘Authorised by Matthew Sheahan, Advance Aus Ltd Level 4, 15 Moore Street, Canberra City 2601’ (Source: Australian Financial Review)

One block back from Canberra’s main thoroughfare, the office tower at 15 Moore Street – known as ANZ House – is the supposed national headquarters of the “No” campaign.

It’s the address the campaign – which aggressively fought against an Indigenous Voice to Parliament – has filed with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), as well with charities regulator the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).

‘Level 4, 15 Moore Street Canberra, ACT 2601’, is its ‘principal place of business’, it has told the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Only, like much else with the opaque campaign, it’s a blatant lie.

Company details registered for Advance (Source: ASIC)

Neither Advance nor any one of its network of affiliates operates from the building.

And they never have.

The Klaxon attempted to track down or get comment from those behind the anti-Indigenous Voice campaign.

At least six arms of the network have been identified to date.

They include Advance Aus 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).

On Wednesday 11 October, The Guardian revealed another site had popped up, Christians for Equality, which has been “endorsed” by far-Right “Christian” campaigner Lyle Shelton. (Its “authorised by” statement also gives the Level 4, 15 Moore Street, Canberra address).

Not one has a telephone number.

The only “contact” details each provides is an email address, each containing the name of the corresponding site.

We received no response to our requests for comment.

Google searches for Level 4, 15 Moore Street came up with a string of obscure entities, including a financial planner, a “migration agent” and a security company.

(Source: Fair Australia/Advance)

Calling a number listed online for one of those entities (the entity was similarly not located in the building), we were provided with the telephone number of a company called Regus.

On its website, Regus advertises ‘shared office space’ on levels four and five of the Moore Street building, that can be rented ‘for a day, for a month, or longer’.

(An earlier attempt to contact Regus was unsuccessful — the phone number on its website was invalid.)

Regus told us that Advance was not located in the building — it was a “virtual office”.

Its website shows, along with ‘office space’, ‘co-working’ and ‘meeting rooms’, Regus offers ‘virtual offices’.

The “Business Address” package – $85 a month (Source: Regus)

It offers a “Virtual Office” package – ‘a prestigious business address, with telephone answering, a virtual receptionist’ – from $165 a month.

It also offers a “Virtual Office Plus” package – from $329 a month – with ‘everything in our Virtual Office package’ plus ‘access to meeting rooms and five days of office space each month’.

There is also a “Business Address” option. That offers a ‘virtual presence anywhere’ for $85 a month.

‘Build a business and enhance your credibility using a virtual address at any of our 4000+ locations,’ it states.

A Regus employee said that Advance had a Business Address package.

Investigations reveal that of all the network of entities in the central “No” campaign group, it has just three directors.

They are Matthew Sheahan, a Laura Jean Bradley and Vicki Dunne — a long-time Liberal MP in the A.C.T. Government.

The “charity” arm of the network (Source: ACNC)

In signed documents filed with the ASIC – for both Advance Aus Ltd and Australians for Unity – Bradley and Sheahan have stated fake residential addresses, investigations show.

Each has stated their home address 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 had no online presence before he appeared in connection with Advance (then Advance Australia) about two years ago.

While his “principal place of business” is a fake office in Canberra and his residential address is a fake home in Adelaide, his Facebook profile says he is from Brisbane.

Even less is known about Bradley.

Dunne, the only one among the three who appears to have a LinkedIn profile, did not respond when approached for comment.

The “No” campaign has been widely criticised for spreading lies and misinformation about the Voice, exploiting the absence of truth in political campaigning laws.

It is extremely closely tied to various U.S.-style dark money groups, including the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), and CPAC Australia — all of which are involved in spreading climate change disinformation and acting to stymie the shift from fossil fuels.

Advance – again endorsed by Sheahan and again from Level 4, 15 Moore Street Canberra – also operates Not Zero, a website riddled with climate disinformation.

(Source: Not Zero/Advance)

The Not Zero homepage says:

They call it “Net Zero”... but there is a cost... and you’ll be the now who’ll pay.

 

Instead of representing everyday Aussies like you, our politicians have chosen to pander to big business and inner-city elites.

 

It’s time for mainstream Australians to stand up and tell them what we want.

Visitors are invited to download a Not Zero fact sheet — which has been prepared by it and the IPA.

‘Get the facts. This is what the climate elites don’t want you to know,’ the site says.

Advance claims to be a grassroots operation and aggressively campaigns against “woke inner-city elites”, claiming to be a voice for ordinary Australians.

In fact, it is bankrolled by a small handful of Australia’s super-rich.

Analysis of the “donors” reported in Advance’s most recent AEC disclosures, for the year to 30 June 2022, shows they boil down to just ten entities.

All of them are vastly wealthy — the “elite of the elite”.

Anthony Klan is an investigative journalist and editor of The Klaxon. You can follow him on Twitter @Anthony_Klan. This article was originally published on The Klaxon and has been republished with permission.

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