It took only 24 hours for Labor lobbyist Evan Moorhead to gain access to Treasury officials through ex-treasurer Jackie Trad’s office for a millionaire hotel owner seeking a state bailout.
Emails posted to The Courier-Mail through Right to Know Laws reveal Mr Moorhead secured a meeting with a senior Treasury official for his client just 24 hours after an email introduction by Mark Bellaver, then Chief of Staff to Ms. Trad.
The client, Imperium Tourism Holdings, would later receive taxpayer-funded assistance in the form of a loan from the Queensland Treasury Corporation.
This shows that the lobbyist of the hour and former Labor Secretary of State Evan Moorhead were able to find a senior Treasury executive for a client of his lobbying firm Anacta Strategies.
A spokesperson for the Treasury rejected any favorable treatment, saying companies had to meet specific criteria to receive financial support regardless of how it was approached and that the approach was one of 3,500 direct interactions with businesses seeking funds due to COVID.
“The way a company approaches the Queensland Treasury when seeking financial support has no impact on these processes,” a Treasury spokesperson said.
Mr Moorhead is a close friend of Mrs Trad, another member of the left-wing faction, with the couple spotted sharing coffee on a park bench after leaving the post of treasurer amid the controversy the last year.
Shortly before Ms Trad left, Mr Moorhead asked Mr Bellaver to organize an “investor presentation” with the Treasury for Imperium, which owns several tourism brands.
This includes WebsiteTravel – a booking platform for tourists connecting travel agents and tour operators, which had encountered financial problems it blamed on the COVID-19 tourism crash.
At the time of Mr Moorhead’s approach, local tour operators were chasing hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt as the company froze payments while it raised capital.
Tourism operator Prosail Whitsundays Josh Wilde said he had waited for months $ 100,000 owed by WebsiteTravel for tours the company had arranged before the COVID shutdown.
“The financial pressure he created was incredible,” he said.
A spokesperson for Imperium said all Queensland operators were fully paid last September and the company has been working hard to resolve the issues, changing its business model and creating an agent and fund fund. operators to separate the funds held.
“With the immediate closure of national and international borders, our business, like all tourism businesses, was literally affected overnight,” he said.
“It took a while, but we worked extremely hard to resolve these issues in a positive way. He declined to disclose the approval date, amount or terms of the state loans.
Emails reveal that Mr Moorhead approached Mr Bellaver in April with a “business proposition for the government” of Imperium, exploited by wealthy Kiwi announcer and former owner of Melbourne Rebels rugby club Andrew Cox, whose l he travel empire stretches from the backpacker market to luxury hotels.
Lobbying files show contacts with the minister’s office by Anacta on April 16 and 20.
On April 28 last year, Mr. Bellaver emailed Acting Executive Managing Director of the Queensland Treasury Strategic Initiatives Group Robert Fleming regarding Imperium’s request for an investor presentation .
“They have a business proposal for the government to ensure payment to operators, while providing a business return to the treasury,” Bellaver wrote.
“They are the only platform supporting tourism operators, which means that a collapse would mean operators would be disbursed and without a reservation service (sic).
Mr Moorhead followed up with a ‘nice to meet you (via email!)’ Message moments later, asking Mr Fleming to get in touch ‘as soon as possible’.
The company said the proposal had a “solid commercial basis” and “can ensure the protection of tourism operators …”, continued Mr Moorhead.
Mr Fleming responded the next day, assuring that he “would seek to arrange a call with the representatives concerned as soon as possible” and requesting Mr Cox’s contact details and availability.
Imperium would get a loan from the Queensland Treasury Corporation and a separate loan under a program managed by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority.
A spokesperson for Anacta said Imperium was one of 7,000 companies that had access to a QRIDA loan between March and September 2020 and that the Treasury loan was “similarly available to affected companies. by the problems related to COVID-19 “.
“The government has responded with the appropriate urgency as this issue coincides with the impact of COVID-19 on operators and customers in Queensland’s important tourism sector.”
The media reported weeks after the introduction of the Treasury that while the company had secured more than $ 1 million in loans under the government’s COVID-19 employment support program, tourism operators still had to money.
Local tour operators say they have since been paid.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said there are rules on engaging lobbyists, including on the use of the publicly available lobbyist registry, and the prime minister expects these rules are followed by ministers and staff.
Originally published as Lobbyist’s Trad link to gain superior access