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Tony Abbott now has a dangerous duo of spurned colleagues in the Senate

December 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Now there will be little argument about David Johnston not really having the gift of the political gab. As Defence Minister he suffered by actually saying what he thought and that will never do when the political contest is about avoiding unwanted controversy. Fancy a politician saying that he would not trust the Adelaide based submarine corporation to build a canoe? Leave aside the truth that the feather-bedding of ship building in South Australia has cost taxpayers unnecessary billions. Surely the man realised that honesty would put thousands of votes at risk? Breaking an election promise to hand the next submarine construction contract to such a wasteful contractor needs finesse not brutal honesty.

So off to the backbench with the one Liberal and National Party member of parliament who actually made a keen study of defence matters during those long years in opposition. The Tony Abbott government wants safe hands ijn charge of our armed forces not sensible ones.

So David Johnston will move to the red back benches to join another mature aged Liberal rejected for ministerial office because of a perceived inability to play the modern political game where perception is king.

Now Ian Macdonald is a Senator I would not claim to know well but when I was in my Eden fish-sausage making days, and doing the books for some of the battling south coast trawler owners, I found him a knowledgeable and understanding Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation. During my 50 years on the fringes of political life I’ve met far less competent and decent occupants of high office and I’m sure that’s the case today; a veteran Queensland stalwart of the Liberal Party just did not fit in to the ministerial mold prescribed by the modern Liberal party apparatchiks who Tony Abbott bows down to.

So Senator Macdonald has spent the year and a bit since being passed over after the election sitting on the backbench and making the occasional pointed criticism of how the Abbott government is performing without really rocking the boat.

But now that he is joined on the Senate backbench by another Liberal veteran in Senator Johnston, the potential for influencing the shape of government decisions increases considerably. Not that I expect the pair of them to indulge in a pubic game of threatening to cross the floor in a closely divided Senate. Rather they have the potential to play a game of bluff with the Prime Minister who spurned them before things get to the voting stage.

I am sure the lobbyists will be aware of the potential.

A Tuesday morning addition:

Perhaps I should have referred to three spurned colleagues rather than two. Peter van Onselen had this interesting insight this morning (behind The Australian’s paywall) after writing how Johnston was supported by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop:

The Bishop slight within Abbott’s reshuffle didn’t end there. The only other dumping from the frontbench was Queensland senator Brett Mason, Bishop’s parliamentary secretary. The two got on well, building a strong working relationship.

 

Categories: Lobbying and PR, Political snippets Tags:

ABC boss explains the Murdoch method

November 19th, 2014 Comments off

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So where was ABC managing director Mark Scott referring us? To “The pervasive power of Rupert Murdoch: an extract from Hack Attack by Nick Davies” where you will find:

… they say that his primary interest in politicians is not political; it’s commercial. He may be a highly political animal, they say – obsessed with the details of life in the corridors of power and personally possessed of some extremely right-wing opinions – but what he most wants from politicians is favours for his business. He’ll betray his own principles, he’ll embrace politicians for whom he has very little respect, just as long as they have the power to help the company get bigger.
… The man’s character, in turn, is at the heart of his approach to business. Rupert Murdoch is a man who will crush an opponent like a beetle beneath his boot, and he will do it for one simple reason – for News Corp. One of the guests who is closest to him says: “Rupert does not discriminate – he does not care about anybody more than he cares about the business. That includes himself, his kids, his political allies. The business comes first. His plan is “kill or be killed”. Every single corporate battle that he’s fought over the last 50 years, he’s gone head-to-head to win. You have to win. You don’t acknowledge that politics is a higher power. You don’t yield to the law of the land. You don’t submit to any higher code than your own.”

And does it work? Nick Davies gives some interesting examples and I am amused by the current campaign of the Sydney Daily Telegraph to get the state government of New South Wales to continue the system that has newspaper sales by newsagents subsidised by a government imposed monopoly on selling lottery tickets. If you missed it have a read of the Owl’s piece yesterday When free market principle and self interest collide – which will the Murdoch team back?

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And this morning’s headline is one you can believe in. There will certainly be more of the same until Premier Mike Baird joins the Labor Opposition Leader John Robertson in running up the white flag with words similar to Robertson’s as the Tele story recorded:

He said the government needed to “ensure they act to protect the thousands of newsagencies across the state who currently rely on acting as lottery agents to maintain a viable business”.

Categories: Australian media, Lobbying and PR, Media Tags:

Lobbyists spending billions to help earn trillions and other news and views for the day

November 18th, 2014 Comments off
  • Top Spenders On Capitol Hill Pay Billions, Receive Trillions – ‘How much power should corporations wield in Washington? It’s an enduring question — and now the Sunlight Foundation has devised a new way to gauge that power. The foundation took the 200 corporations most active in Washington, analyzed the years 2007-2012 and applied several metrics: what the companies got in federal contracts and other federal support, what they spent on lobbying, how much their executives and political action committees gave in campaign contributions. Bill Allison, the Sunlight Foundation’s editorial director, says there aren’t permanent majorities governing in Congress and the executive branch — “but there really are permanent interests in Washington,” he says. With some companies, a policy of giving big to political campaigns might seem pretty obvious; at other companies, it’s less obvious. “But federal spending is a big part of their business model,” Allison says. He says the top 200 corporations accounted for nearly $6 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions. Those same corporations benefited from more than $4 trillion in federal contracts and assistance.’

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  • A Reserve So Deep, You Could Drown – Hugh Jackman Stars in ‘The River’ on Broadway – “In Jez Butterworth’s “The River,” the poetic tease of a drama that opened Sunday night at the Circle in the Square Theater, Mr. Jackman conveys an impression of mightily self-contained silence, even when he’s talking like Wordsworth on a bender. And in banking his fires so compellingly, he ascends with assurance to a new level as a stage actor.”
  • Japan Through the Looking Glass – Paul Krugman writes: “Long ago I argued that what Japan needed was a credible promise to be irresponsible. And deficits that must be monetized are one way to make that happen … As I and other people like Paul McCulley have tried to explain many times, the liquidity trap puts you on the other side of the looking glass; virtue is vice, prudence is folly, central bank independence is a bad thing and the threat of monetized deficits is to be welcomed, not feared.”
  • Why Keynes is important today – “The current debate on the efficacy of Keynesian stimulus mirrors the resistance Keynes met with when initially advocating his theory.”
  • The Netherlands Is Set To Open The World’s First Solar Bike Lane
  • Why are the Conservatives so incompetent at running the economy? – “If that question seems odd to you, you are one of the majority in the UK who think the Conservatives are better at managing the economy than Labour. Why do people think this? My guess is that it is very simple. The financial crisis happened while Labour was in power. This led to the largest recession since the Great Depression. But surely everyone knows that the financial crisis was a global phenomenon that started in the US? Surely everyone knows that if the Conservatives had been in power there would have been just as little financial regulation, so the impact of the crisis on UK banks would have been much the same? The problem is that most people do not know this.
  • The career prospects of overeducated Americans

The ways of lobbyists seeking favorable deals

October 30th, 2014 Comments off

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  • Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General – “Attorneys general have become the object of pursuit by lobbyists who use campaign contributions, personal appeals and other means to sway investigations or negotiate favorable deals, an investigation by The New York Times has found.”
  • Singapore upholds law that criminalizes gay sex – “Singapore’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that a law that criminalizes sex between men is in line with the city-state’s constitution, rejecting two separate appeals by three men that the measure infringed their human rights. The judgment comes as gay rights have become an increasingly thorny issue in Singapore’s traditionally conservative society.”

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  • Is economic growth permanently lower? – “The assumption that the mean growth rate is one of the great economic constants in advanced economies is simply wrong. … The slowdown in long run growth in the developed economies therefore seems to have become a permanent fact of life, rather than a temporary result of the financial crash that will disappear over time. But the actual path for GDP has fallen well below even the depressed long run equilibrium path since 2009.”
  • France grapples with rising tide of homegrown jihadis
  • Afghanistan: ‘A Shocking Indictment’ – A review of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes by Anand Gopal – “His new and shocking indictment demonstrates that the failures of the intervention were worse than even the most cynical believed. … Again and again Gopal reminds us that the state, which the West was supposed to be developing, was far weaker than anyone acknowledged—and often simply didn’t exist. In truth, international statements about establishing “the rule of law, governance, and security” became simply ways of saying that Afghanistan was unjust, corrupt, and violent. “Transparent, predictable, and accountable financial practices” were not a solution to corruption; they were simply a description of what was lacking. But policymakers never realized how far from the mark they were. This is partly because most of them were unaware of even a fraction of the reality described in Gopal’s book. But it was partly also that they couldn’t absorb the truth, and didn’t want to. The jargon of state-building, “capacity-building,” “civil society,” and “sustainable livelihoods” seemed conveniently ethical, practical, and irrefutable. And because of fears about lost lives, and fears about future terrorist attacks, they had no interest in detailed descriptions of failure: something had to be done, and failure was simply “not an option.”
  • Hillary Clinton’s New Image: Cool Grandma. Can She Maintain It? – ‘When did Hillary Clinton become cool? … Whenever her ascent began, it reached a peak in March, when GQ published an interview with musician Pharrell Williams. In one of the most convoluted sentences ever recorded in the English language, he not only endorsed Clinton for president in 2016 but also predicted her win, one that would usher in purple-tinted national unity and a worldwide pro-choice matriarchy: “When we are a country and we are a species that has had a Martian Rover traveling up and down the crevices of this planet looking for water and ice, okay, and we’ve had a space station that’s been orbiting our planet for sixteen years—but we still got legislation trying to tell women what to do with their bodies? Hillary’s gonna win. Listen, I’m reaching out to her right now. She’s gonna win.” ‘
  • Do You Have To Open That Bottle Of Wine A Guest Brought To Your Home?

Trust the wisdom of the International Monetary Fund? Be it at your own risk

July 5th, 2014 Comments off

Another example of the true meaning when the board announces it has full confidence in the coach!

IMF Concludes Staff Visit to Bulgaria

Press Release No. 14/278
June 12, 2014

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission visited Sofia during June 6–11, 2014, to discuss the economic outlook and government policies with the Bulgarian authorities. At the conclusion of this regular staff visit, Ms. Michele Shannon, IMF Mission Chief for Bulgaria, made the following statement: …

Regarding the financial sector, the implementation of the new EU regulatory regime is on track, including through the adoption of maximum capital conservation and systemic risk buffers applicable to all banks. In addition, the elimination of specific provisions resulted in a commensurate increase in regulatory capital. While credit growth remains low, the system is stable and liquid, with banks’ non-performing loans buffered by provisions and significant capital, as well as a positive net foreign asset position. Efforts by banks to address the stock of distressed assets and claim associated collateral should continue in order to lower asset price uncertainty and thereby support renewed investment.

(Note: emphasis added by the Owl.)

Accusations fly in Bulgaria’s murky bank run

SOFIA Fri Jul 4, 2014 5:50am EDT

(Reuters) – One worker at Bulgaria’s Corporate Commercial Bank knew panic was setting in when she spotted colleagues among the anxious depositors lined up to withdraw cash from the troubled bank.

The alarm came in part because the week before, on June 13, with television news crews filming, Bulgarian state prosecutors had raided a building in Sofia that housed Corpbank offices.

Though both the prosecutors and the bank said the raid did not target Corpbank – the building housed other companies as well – customers soon began to withdraw their savings. Within days, the Central Bank had seized control of the bank, the fourth-biggest lender in Bulgaria, and suspended its operations for three months.

Though both the prosecutors and the bank said the raid did not target Corpbank – the building housed other companies as well – customers soon began to withdraw their savings. Within days, the Central Bank had seized control of the bank, the fourth-biggest lender in Bulgaria, and suspended its operations for three months.

The dramatic raid and bank run were reminders that despite progress from the worst days of the euro crisis, parts of Europe’s financial system are still far from secure. The run quickly spread to another bank and saw Sofia announce a protective $2.3 billion credit line.

Getting oil men to finance the campaign for oil industry regulator

May 6th, 2014 Comments off

The oil explorers in Texas do some things in the same way as coal developers in New South Wales. They manage to find a dollar for “worthy” candidates. Take the case of George Prescott Bush, the 38-year-old son of Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida. He is the latest generation of the the Bush family dynasty to seek a job in politics and has won the Republican primary election to stand for the post of Texas Land Commissioner come November.

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Now that might not be the grandest elected office in the USA but it is the kind of first step that political aspirants for higher things usually take. And it does provide a means of making contact with the rich and powerful of the State, especially those in the oil business, whose dollars go a long way towards success. For the Texas Land Commissioner has the twin responsibilities of both promoting oil and gas development on state lands and waters and ensuring oil and gas companies are paying the correct amount in royalties. On his campaign website, George P. Bush says he aims to increase energy production and fight excessive federal regulation.

As land commissioner I will support the responsible stewardship of our resources and the reasonable drilling of oil and natural gas on our public lands. We can and we should do both. The days of false choices between protecting the environment on one side and promoting job creation is over. Here in Texas we are going to take care of our resources and take care of our people at the same time.

Second, we’re going to fight excessive federal regulation. Too often too many regulations from Washington D.C. have been passed that make little to no sense at all. So we’re going to fight back, and we’re going to fight back hard here in the state of Texas. So my goal for our state is that we once again become the energy leader of the world. Nothing more, and nothing less.

They are the kind of aims oil men seem find attractive. AlJazeera America noted this month a distinguishing feature of George P. Bush’s quest for public office: a campaign war chest totaling $2.2 million — a significant portion of that money furnished by the same industry he will go on to regulate if he wins.

A glance at the names populating his campaign’s list of top-level donors reveals a who’s who of the state’s wealthiest oil and gas executives.

Anne Marion, heiress to the fortune of Fort Worth–based Burnett Oil Co., gave $50,000, according to reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission and compiled by The Texas Tribune. Jan Rees Jones, wife of Trevor Jones, president and CEO of Dallas-based Chief Oil & Gas provided another $50,000. James Henry, a longtime veteran of the oil industry and chair of Henry Resources LLC, another oil and gas exploration firm, lent $40,000 to the effort. Syed Javaid Anwar, president of Midland Energy, kicked in $40,000.

In all, Al Jazeera tabulated that individuals tied to energy companies contributed at least $450,000 to Bush’s first political effort.

A note: One thing that certainly differs between Texas and NSW is the detailed returns that the Bush campaign furnishes on money raised and spent – right down to the level of disclosing $6 paid for parking at Sundance Square, Forth Worth.

Labor silence on Treasurer for sale story would be wise

May 5th, 2014 Comments off

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No one who has been even peripherally involved in a federal election campaign will be at all surprised by the stories in this mornings Fairfax papers about Joe Hockey’s involvement in campaign fund raising. Getting in the dollars to pay for getting in the votes has long been an expected part of a Treasurer’s role whatever party is in office.

After the Prime Minister, the Treasurer is the office holder people with a cause to push most want to influence so party officials naturally take advantage of it. The only major difference I can see in the Jovial Joe case is that he localised the collection point via his own electorate organisation rather than letting the state or federal branch get their hands on the dosh. No doubt that will cause a bit of muttering within the Liberal Party now that the sums involved have been publicised.

Labor will be wise not to do too much tut-tutting on this issue. Companies and rich people paying for access to their own high and mighty has been every bit as prevalent as on the Coalition side.

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Former politicians as door-openers: a classic case study from Britain

May 2nd, 2014 Comments off

Australia has its tawdry tales of former politicians peddling influence for property developers and others told daily before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. And we have had the slightly unedifying sight of former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd acting as door openers for companies in China and elsewhere. Departed Treasurer Peter Costello used his influence with the regime in Cambodia to introduce some business colleagues and remains in the consultancy business. Alexander Downer traded on the contacts made as our foreign minister to attract a client or two. It’s all a little sad perhaps but the activities of our retired leaders pale into insignificance compared with Britain’s Tony Blair.

London’s Financial Times this week brought its readers the story of this Prime Minister who turned lobbyist on a truly grand scale.

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What a depressing read it is as it outlines how the man who not so long ago was a proselytiser for democracy, now, along with the monarchs of the Gulf, courts Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

His excuse says he is promoting political reform; the reality is that he is paid handsomely in lending a cloak of respectability to a central Asian tyrant.
Add in the paid-for speeches, dealmaking with the US investment banker Michael Klein and a lucrative door-opening role at JPMorgan, and it all adds up to a tidy sum. Guesses of Mr Blair’s wealth put it at about £100m. Friends suggest this is a serious underestimate.
I suspect he does not want the money for its own sake. More likely, the private jet is a way to keep score, a salve for a bruised ego. The craving is for public approbation.

Put the story in your “must read” category. The FT has a paywall but limited free access.

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Reconfirming the public’s worst fears about what really goes on behind the closed doors of government.

March 20th, 2014 Comments off

A powerful and insightful piece by Quentin Dempster on the latest NSW ICAC enquiry. Arthur Sinodinos looks like he will have some real questions to answer.

The ICAC’s destruction hits both sides – The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Also significantly, [Counsel Assisting Geoffrey]Watson [SC] has declared that although the ICAC has interviewed O’Farrell on camera (O’Farrell acknowledged an association with Di Girolamo), “we have found no evidence to implicate” him in any corruption.

Watson also “cleared” former Liberal finance minister Greg Pearce and former Labor treasurer Michael Costa, who served as chairman of AWH for a time after Sinodinos.

But Watson  did not “clear” Sinodinos, now a Senator and Assistant Treasurer in the Abbott Federal Government.

“It’s presently difficult to offer observations on the conduct of Mr Sinodinos. He has other involvements which will come under scrutiny in Operation Spicer,” Watson said.

At the moment the Prime Minister is standing by Senator Sinodinos. Sinodinos denies impropriety and is entitled to the presumption of innocence, as are all the adversely named so far at the ICAC ‘s current investigation.

As previously reported, ICAC hearings are  inquisitorial proceedings held in public after preliminary and extensive in camera inquiry. It is likely Sinodinos has already been asked in to assist and has answered  questions under oath.

He will have to endure a painful wait to see exactly what the ICAC, which has coercive powers, has on him. There was an audible sucking in of breath when Watson remarked that it’s “difficult to offer observations on the conduct of Mr Sinodinos”.

Although Watson has a headline-grabbing descriptive ability it would be  an act of cruelty and irresponsibility to use these words without full consideration of their impact.

In the weeks and months ahead the constant media coverage will re-confirm the public’s worst fears about what really goes on behind the closed doors of government.

The Liberal Party will stand besmirched and tainted, its high moral ground destroyed after five years of advantageous revelation.

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Business purchases to curry favour with politicians and other news and views for Sunday 9 March

March 10th, 2014 Comments off
  • Market-based lobbying: Evidence from advertising spending in Italy – “Firms hoping for regulatory favours may direct their business purchases towards firms controlled by politicians, who benefit from the additional revenue. This column provides evidence from Italy consistent with this channel. It shows that the share of advertising on Berlusconi’s televisions increased while he was in power, and this even more so in the most regulated industries.”
  • 2014-03-09_berlusconiadvertisinghareChina exports hobbled by data distortions – “Chinese exports appeared to collapse in February but the weaker than expected number was mostly due to timing of the Lunar New Year holiday and the effect of rampant over-invoicing by exporters in the first months of 2013.”
  • Is the LRB one of the best magazines in the world? – “The London Review of Books has become the most successful – and controversial – literary publication in Europe. Just what is Mary-Kay Wilmers, its 75-year-old editor, getting so right?”
  • Domingo Undimmed – Plácido Domingo Defies the Gravity of Age – “He has been defying the gravity of age, and continuing to command the stages of the world’s leading opera houses, as a result of one of the more remarkable transformations in opera history. Mr. Domingo, one of the great tenors of recent memory and one-third of the Three Tenors of pop fame, is making a second career singing baritone roles.”
  • Douglas Coupland: living big – ‘The ultimate truth about weight gain in western culture is it’s great for the economy’

 

Searching an ABC site unsuccessfully for a correction to comments affecting Clive Palmer

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

My morning Twitter glancing led me to this:

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A perfectly civil correction and without the lawyer’s mumbo-jumbo in which such things are normally written. It made me wonder how the ABC presented it on its Gold Coast station website.

2014-03-04_nicoledyerI can’t tell you because I could not find it.

Ah well, it will at least give that ABC’s correction column in next Monday’s Australian something real to report on

 

Categories: Environment, Lobbying and PR, Media Tags:

Sending lobbying underground – government relations and government affairs

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

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The Shadow Lobbying Complex – On paper, the influence-peddling business is drying up. But lobbying money is flooding Washington, DC like never before. What’s going on?- The Nation

Click on the cover illustration above and you will get a good guide to the lobbying business in Washington that applies almost equally to Canberra.

To encourage you to read the whole article, here are a few excerpts

A November report from McKinsey & Company estimated that the “business value at stake from government and regulatory intervention” is about 30 percent of earnings for companies in most sectors. Simply put, government policies can mean the difference of billions of dollars for major companies, and spending on politics offers a superb payoff.

… Rather than using the L-word to describe what they do, many lobbyists prefer the more banal rubric of “government relations” or “government affairs.” Reflecting this trend, the American League of Lobbyists—a professional association for the industry—changed its name in November to the Association of Government Relations Professionals. And while lobbyists must report their payments from clients, those ducking the system quietly bring in the biggest paydays.

…  head of public affairs—another euphemism for influence peddling popular among unregistered lobbyists

…Designed to ensure that regular citizens petitioning their government would not be forced to register as lobbyists, the LDA has a three-pronged test to determine who must register—a test that inadvertently allows Washington’s biggest influence peddlers to ignore the disclosure law. According to this test, a lobbyist is an individual (1) who earns at least $2,500 from lobbying over a three-month period; (2) whose services include more than one lobbying contact; and (3) who spends at least 20 percent of his time during a three-month period making “lobbying contacts.” If a lobbyist can argue that just one of these descriptions doesn’t apply to him, he is not required to register.

Lobbyists, moreover, are considered lobbyists only if they advocate on behalf of a certain position on legislation; if they’re simply gathering intelligence, they’re not considered lobbyists under the law.

… it had merely sought to collect information rather than advocate a certain position—a key difference that would excuse the company from registering as a lobbying firm.

… One of the biggest problems with lobbying registration is that the LDA was never intended to cover so-called “outside lobbying.” Like previous iterations of the law, the current system does nothing to regulate the fake grassroots groups that enraged Senator Black, or the surrogate think tanks and public relations gimmicks used to corral popular support for special-interest legislative campaigns. Many lobbying businesses offer a full range of capabilities that fall well outside the LDA’s definition of lobbying.

You will find other stories on similar subject at the Owl’s ‘Lobbying and PR’ Category Archives

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Two twitter views of the trial of Oscar Pretorius – Oscar’s PR team and Reeva Steenkamp’s friends

March 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Just as well that in South Africa murder trials are before a judge sitting alone. The Oscar Pretorius hearing beginning today will have some unique coverage via Twitter that would have Australian courts choked with contempt of court actions.

Oscar has his own account but it will not be providing regular updates.

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As he tweeted a few days ago he has delegated that task to @OscarHardTruth which is being run by his PR advisers.

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For the other side of things there are friends of Reeva Steenkamp.

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Something to watch for in the penalty rates debate – bogus think-tanks

February 16th, 2014 Comments off

The push to remove penalty rates for things like late night and weekend work is under way again in Australia. The argument of employers that seems to have the support of the Coalition government is that the extra dollars put into the pockets of workers are destroying job opportunities for others.

On National Public Radio in the US this weekend there was an interview with New York Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton that gives a warning of something to look out for as the debate continues.

INTERVIEWER TERRY GROSS: You cover lobbying for the New York Times, but if I were to give your beat a name, judging from what you’ve been writing lately, the beat would be the secret corporate influence on American policy and public opinion. Does that work for you?

ERIC LIPTON: Yeah, I mean I sort of think of it as self-interested parties trying to influence the system to their own benefit. And that’s sort of like what I’m looking for when I think about what’s an interesting story.

GROSS: So one of the things you’ve been investigating is how corporate lobby groups are funding research that will influence both lawmakers and popular opinion. And one of the ways they’re doing that is by funding think-tanks. And give us an example of a think-tank that is funded by a lobby group, although you wouldn’t know that if you were reading the research that the think-tank turned out.

LIPTON: Well, there’s – for example, there’s a group called the Employment Policies Institute, which puts out reports that examines what would happen if we raise the minimum wage, what impact will it have on unemployment and on poverty in the United States. And if you look at the reports, they’re very academic-looking, and they say they’re, you know, a nonpartisan research organization.

But in fact, as you learn more about the group, you find out that one of their main supporters financially is the restaurant industry and that when you look at the reports…

GROSS: And the restaurant industry opposes raising the minimum wage.

LIPTON: Right. They find that it would be sort of hurtful to their bottom line and perhaps would reduce employment. So they’re actively lobbying Congress to try to avoid legislation that would increase the minimum wage. And the thing is, when you look at their reports, there’s just this consistency to them that they again and again are putting out reports that make a similar point.

And then their reports turn up on the National Restaurant Association website, which then uses their reports to kind of reinforce their opposition to the legislative proposal. So it becomes this sort of Washington echo chamber where the think-tank makes an argument, then the organization that is trying to block the legislation then points to the think-tank as an authoritative source, and it buttresses its argument and tries to, you know, modestly change public opinion and perhaps modestly impact some of the moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats whose votes are still potentially up in the air.

GROSS: So the lobby group funds the think-tank, the think-tank turns out research that supports the lobby group’s point of view. The lobby group quotes the think-tank as being impartial.

LIPTON: Yes.

GROSS: Now, in the Employment Policies Institute, the group that you mentioned that turns out research that opposes raising the minimum wage, they’re actually directly connected to a PR firm led by somebody named Richard Berman. The PR firm is called Berman and Company. And this is an interesting group because they actually have created several, you know, think-tanks and, you know, consumer groups that are created because they’re funded by a special interest.

LIPTON: For the most part. I mean there’s, you know, the Center for Consumer Freedom. You know, there’s ActivistCash.com. There’s MercuryFacts.com, Teachers Union Facts, Employment Freedom Org, IncomeTaxFacts.org. There’s, you know, more than a dozen websites or nonprofit groups that Berman and Company has set up that then typically have had some industry funding and then make arguments that are opposing sort of what you would consider, you know, consumer groups, and they become a part of the public debate.

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Does the Fiona Nash disappearing web page trail lead to Peter Dutton

February 15th, 2014 Comments off

Senator Fiona Nash has one very big thing going for her as she struggles to keep her job in the Coalition Ministry. She is a member of the National Party and thus is largely insulated from dictatorial direction by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his disciplinarian in chief Peta Credlin. If there is to be any action taken against the Assistant Minister for Health and Deputy National Party Leader in the Senate then it is Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Warren Truss MP who must take it. In matters like this the Nationals tend to be made of sterner stuff than their Liberal Party partners. They better know how to ignore media driven outrage. Mr Truss has shown no interest so far in dismissing his colleague.

And perhaps there is a good reason why Prime Minister Abbott will not try to force him to for there is a risk that peripheral damage over this affair of the disappearing web page would be extended to ensnare the senior Health Minister and Liberal Peter Dutton.

The Sydney Morning Herald gives some of the background to the political problem in its page one story this morning that appears based on briefings out of a PM’s office desperate to absolve itself from blame over the appointment as Senator Nash’s chief of staff of Alastair Furnival who resigned yesterday over his shareholding in a lobbying company.

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What that “inner circle” did not explain to the Herald was whose idea was it in the first place to appoint Mr Furnival? Could it have been a Minister Dutton determined to have someone he knew and trusted ensconced is his junior’s office?

An insightful piece by Bernard Keane in Crikey yesterday (HERE but behind a paywall) points in that direction. Of Furnival he wrote:

He was chief of staff to Queensland Liberal Santo Santoro in the latter’s mercifully brief stint as John Howard’s minister for ageing in 2007, which was ended after Santoro was revealed to have been less than forthcoming about his shareholdings, not merely to voters but to Howard, which was a hanging offence.

Add to that that Peter Dutton hails from the Queensland party’s right and was a protege of former party kingpin Santo Santoro and there are the makings at least of a little conspiracy theory.

Categories: Lobbying and PR, Political snippets Tags:

The wonderful world of lobbying – sugar versus corn syrup

February 13th, 2014 Comments off

A wonderful example of the ways of lobbying in the Washington Post this morning.

2014-02-13_citizensforhelth

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An insight into how pharmaceutical lobbyists work

February 8th, 2014 Comments off

Big pharma in the dock over patent law plot in South Africa : The Lancet.

A heated row between the South African Government and the country’s umbrella organisation for drug companies over a proposed publicity campaign to fight draft patent reforms has gained momentum with Danish company Novo Nordisk quitting the group in protest…

Novo Nordisk resigned from IPASA with company spokeswoman Shelley Harris writing in an email that the decision to leave followed “a disagreement on a public relations campaign proposed by IPASA, which we felt did not serve our or the industry’s interests”…

The IPASA email came to light after a nine-page document was leaked to the media detailing a plan prepared for IPASA by Washington-based firm Public Affairs Engagement (PAE), urging pharmaceutical companies to campaign against the Proposed Draft National Intellectual Property Policy in South Africa.
The document suggests that PAE intends to run a persuasive campaign in Africa and in Europe, which includes setting up a South African organisation to lobby against the policy that would seem to be a local movement but would be operated from the USA.
The Lancet report notes that a consortium of noon-governmental organisations formed the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) to promote a Fix The Patent Laws initiative, which is rallying to amend South Africa’s Patents Act 57 of 1978 to reduce the cost of medicines in the country. As well as antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS, the NGO campaign targets expensive therapies for cancer and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis for which there are no current alternatives in the country.
The TPC submission to the SA government from October last year:

Civil society open letter to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regarding the Draft National Policy on Intellectual Property (IP) of South Africa, 2013

This is a joint letter from academics, experts, civil society and advocacy organisations working on intellectual property issues to improve access to affordable medicines and advance global health. We are writing in support of a number of proposed reforms to South Africa’s intellectual property law as it relates to access to medicines, and to offer specific recommendations to further improve the recently published Draft National Policy on Intellectual Property (DNPIP), 2013 (Government Gazette Vol. 579 No. 36816).

South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has expressed its intention that reform of the intellectual property system will balance patients’ rights with those of patent-holders. Given South Africa’s high burden for both communicable and non-communicable diseases, this is a positive step towards addressing the current imbalance in the system in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, the protection of public health, and the transfer and dissemination of technology, especially in sectors of vital importance to socio-economic and technological development. The DNPIP proposes several reforms that would make use of pro-public health flexibilities allowable under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). Many other countries, including India and Argentina, have already incorporated TRIPS flexibilities into their national laws, and others, like Brazil, are initiating comparable pro-health patent law reforms. These countries and others have also implemented TRIPS-compliant flexibilities to procure more affordable medicines and to strengthen domestic pharmaceutical capacity. We think that intellectual property law reforms are essential for South Africa to meet its human rights obligations, including the right to health and the right of access to medicines.

Below we outline several recommendations to ensure the proposed IP reforms will positively impact access to medicines by preventing excessive patenting and other barriers to generic entry in order to allow competitive price reductions on medicines and medical technologies (including diagnostic tools). Where valid patents do exist that price medicines out of reach, we provide recommendations for improving measures to mitigate this.

Recommendations:

1. Patentable Subject Matter Exclusions and Patentability Criteria:Chapter 2 of the DNPIP notes that South African legislation should enact stricter criteria for granting a patent, and exclude from patentability “diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods…including new uses of known products.” We support these principles, but recommend that additional criteria also be put in place in South Africa, to exclude from patentability or to clarify lack of inventive step with respect to new forms of known medicines or their components (salts, polymorphs, esters and other derivatives), new dosages and formulations, and new combinations of known medicines or components. These exclusions from patentability or clarifications of inventive step are all compliant with Article 27.1 of TRIPS, and countries such as India, Argentina and the Philippines have already put such criteria in place. Strict subject matter exclusions and patentability criteria prevents originator pharmaceutical companies from obtaining multiple patents on the same drug—a practice known as “patent evergreening,” which keeps medicine prices high by preventing the entrance of generic competitors. Additionally, a high standard of innovation should incentivise investment in true innovations—new molecular entities and new classes of medicines. Given that the majority of the most important pipeline antiretrovirals are derivatives of known compounds,[1] we believe that implementing stricter patentability criteria is critical in ensuring more affordable access. Both DNA and cDNA sequences should also be explicitly excluded from patentability, as they are products of nature[2]—cDNA sequences in particular are relevant to developing therapeutic products. Adopting this exclusion is essential if South Africa is to develop a rich biotechnology/biosimilars sector. In addition the DNPIP must reject the introduction of utility model patents in South Africa in regard to pharmaceutical products, which grant exclusive rights to pharmaceutical companies for incremental changes to products, undermining innovation and blocking access to generic equivalents.

2. Patent Examination System: In order for subject matter exclusions and stricter patentability criteria to be applied effectively, it is essential that South Africa examines pharmaceutical patent applications to determine whether they meet these requirements. Chapter 1 of the DNPIP recommends the use of a substantive search and examination system to determine whether applications, especially in the pharmaceutical sector, are valid or not. We strongly support this system, as it would effectively prevent multiple patents being filed on minor variations to known compounds. However we note that in the long run this should be a single system, not approached in conjunction with the current depository registration system as suggested in the DNPIP. If a phased-in approach is deemed necessary, it is essential that pharmaceuticals be among the first product areas to be examined. The cost effectiveness of establishing a substantive patent examination system can be offset with filing, application and renewal fees that can meet the one time cost of upgrading infrastructure and the ongoing human resources needed to administer such a system as seen in the case of the Indian Patent Office which has consistently generated a revenue surplus since inception[3].

3. Pre- and Post-Grant Patent Opposition: Chapter 1 of the DNPIP notes that South Africa should provide for a pre- and post-grant opposition mechanism within national law to enable third parties to oppose weaker patents that fail to meet patentability standards. This is an important additional check to ensure that only true innovation is rewarded with patent protection. In India a third party (including generic manufacturers, researchers, civil society organisations, and other interested persons and entities) can oppose a patent while the application is pending, and for one year after it is granted. This is done by submitting evidence to the patents office detailing why the patent should not be granted. We support the implemention of an opposition procedure system in South Africa which would simplify the process for challenging patents and allow the patent office to benefit from the inputs of various stakeholders. In addition, we believe that South Africa should adopt an extended time-period for post-grant opposition with respect to pharmaceutical patents adopted during the non-examination period. South Africa has granted a much higher rate of pharmaceutical patents than other countries, including the United States and European countries.

4. Access to Patent Information: In addition, it is essential for South Africa to improve the transparency surrounding patent applications in order to support a patent opposition mechanism (as well as compulsory licensing provisions). All applicants must be required to disclose the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) of the pharmaceutical subject matter applied for, either at the time of filing or subsequent to it becoming available, to prevent applicants from obfuscating the subject matter being applied for. This practice is commonplace and increases the difficulty in identifying patents and patent applications that relate to a specific medicine. As well as complicating the opposition procedure, lack of clarity with respect to patents covering medicines also adds significant transaction costs for generic companies attempting to make a freedom to operate decision that will ultimately be borne by the procurer. In addition all patent and filing information must be made publicly accessible through a user-friendly mechanism. This is essential to ensure the success of a patent opposition mechanism that relies on third parties using this information to challenge weak patents.

5. Improved Access Flexibilities:  Chapter 1 and 2 of the DNPIP acknowledges the need to modify existing legislation and regulations to address the difficulties in utilising both compulsory licensing and parallel importation measures which have resulted in neither provision being successfully used to date on a pharmaceutical product. We support these amendments and recommend additional criteria to support their effective use:

i. Compulsory Licensing: Compulsory licenses must be authorised in cases where: medicine prices prohibit access, supply is inadequate to need, there is a need for multiple suppliers to avoid stock-outs and shortages, the patent holder has refused to grant a voluntary license on reasonable terms, the medicine is an “essential facility,” there is a need for a novel fixed dose combination medicine comprising ingredients patented by multiple rights holders, or the medicine is not being adequately worked in South Africa. In addition to these grounds, there should be specific allowance of compulsory licensing to remedy anti-competitive behaviour, as authorised by TRIPS Article 31(k), and a more general “public interest” ground for compulsory licenses. On top of this, South Africa should set up a simple, expeditious administrative procedure for hearing applications for compulsory licenses, clarify and regulate royalty rates and specify time periods for negotiations. The DNPIP must also clearly differentiate between compulsory licensing and public non-commercial use (or government use) and emergency or urgent need licenses, which do not require prior notification or negotiation with the patent holder (though notification and payment of adequate compensation is required after-the-fact) and can be used by governments to provide medicines in the public sector or be granted in the case of a public health emergency.

ii. Parallel Importation: Legislation must be qualified by the principle of international exhaustion to allow for the importation of medicines into South Africa if the medicines have been placed on the market anywhere in the world by the patent owner, or by any party authorised to use the invention. Such amendments should allow the parallel importation of both branded and legitimately produced generic medicines, as in the case of Kenya and the Philippines. Moreover it is essential that South Africa revise its regulatory framework to rectify the overly narrow grounds for parallel importation and to streamline procedures so as to eliminate the need for a full registration procedure.

6. IP Enforcement: Chapter 9 of the DNPIP discusses the seizure of generic medicines by customs agents. We recommend that the difference between generic medicines, counterfeit medicines that misuse a properly registered trademark, and unregistered, unsafe, and substandard medicines that mislabel their ingredients or do not meet applicable safety, efficacy and quality standards be recognized and that these categories of medicine be treated differently and appropriately to help mitigate any improper seizures or destruction of generic drugs and to counteract counterfeit drugs and redress true threats to public health.

7. Competition Policy: Chapter 5 of the DNPIP discusses the relationship between IP and competition law. The DNPIP acknowledges that competition law may be used to counteract the potentially negative effects of patent protection on public health. Under TRIPS countries are able to regulate practices they consider to be anti-competitive, including—but not limited to—anti-competitive licensing practices. South Africa should explore greater regulation of voluntary licenses in the pharmaceutical sector to avoid this. Furthermore South Africa must make use of a range of remedies to address anti-competitive practices, including compulsory licensing. As TRIPS does not define anti-competitive practices, South Africa has significant flexibility to determine for itself what conduct in relation to exclusive rights in IP is to be considered anti-competitive for the purposes of the Competition Act. We strongly recommend that references to compulsory licensing as an exception to an exclusive right be removed from the text as compulsory licensing is an integral part of the principle of balance that lies at the heart of patent protection.

8. Patent Exceptions: South Africa must adopt into national law broader limited exceptions to patent rights for the purposes of commercial and non-commercial research and education. Such exceptions are fully authorised by TRIPS Article 30 and have been previously implemented by countries such as Brazil.

9. Data Exclusivity: Chapter 1 of the DNPIP refers to data exclusivity as a hindrance to generic competition, but we recommend that data exclusivity be removed completely from the text. TRIPS Article 39.3 refers to undisclosed test or other data that is submitted to governments for the purpose of obtaining marketing approval and that it takes considerable effort to originate, and requires protection against “unfair commercial use” of such data.[4] This is distinguishable from data, marketing or regulatory exclusivity such as that granted in the United States and Europe, which prevents medicines regulatory authorities from referring to or relying on test data submitted by the rights holder (for a specified period of time) in order to register their generic equivalents. Data exclusivity serves no purpose other than to provide firms with de facto market exclusivity when they are unable to legitimately obtain a patent. It prevents generics from entering the market and allows firms to set monopoly pricing on medicines that do not meet patentability standards. TRIPS Article 39.3 does not require data exclusivity, which is now widely accepted as a TRIPS-plus measure that negatively impacts on access to medicines. Data exclusivity goes beyond data protection into the realm of pseudo-monopoly and should be avoided.

We urge the Department of Trade and Industry to take on board our recommendations to improve the proposed reforms of the Draft National Policy on IP. Despite expected opposition from the US, EU and the pharmaceutical industry, these reforms must be rapidly adopted through the legislative process in order to enable improved access to quality and affordable medicines. By pursuing the reforms discussed in the DNPIP, South Africa is exercising its lawful right to use TRIPS-compliant flexibilities to fulfill its constitutional obligations and protect the right to health of its people.

Yours sincerely,

Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa
SECTION27, South Africa
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) South Africa
Budget Expenditure Monitoring Forum (BEMF), South Africa
AIDS & Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), Southern Africa
World AIDS Campaign, South Africa and Kenya
Centre for Civil Society, University KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
HIV Clinicians Society, South Africa
The Stop Stock Outs Project, South Africa
Ndifuna Ukwazi (Dare to Know), South Africa
People’s Health Movement, South Africa
Global TB Community Advisory Board (TB CAB), South Africa
Oxfam, South Africa
Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM), Africa
The African Community Advisory Board (AFROCAB), Africa
AIDS Law Project (ALP), Kenya
National Empowerment Network of People living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya, Kenya
Global Coalition of Women Against AIDS in Uganda, Uganda
Positive-Generation, Cameroon
Coalition 15%, Cameroon
Treatment Access Watch, Cameroon
Cameroon TB Group, Cameroon
Ghana AIDS Treatment Access Group (GATAG), Ghana
Omega Project Management Foundation, Ghana
Lawyers Collective, India
Delhi Network of People Living with HIV (DNP+), India
Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV (APN+)
Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+), Malaysia
East Europe & Central Asia Union of People Living With HIV
The Latin America & Caribbean – Global Alliance for Access to Medicines
RedLAM- Red Latinoamericana por el Acceso a Medicamentos, Latin America
Health Action International – AIS Latin America and the Caribbean
LACCASO – Latin American and the Caribbean Council of AIDS Organizations
Health Action International – AIS Ecuador
Health Action International – AIS Nicaragua
Colombian Medical Federation, Colombia
IFARMA Foundation, Colombia
Misión Salud Veeduría Ciudadana, Colombia
Health Action International – AIS Colombia
Políticas Farmacéuticas, Chile
Red Peruana Por Una Globalización Con Equidad RedGE, Peru
Health Action International – AIS Peru
GTPI/Rebrip (Working Group on Intellectual Property from the Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples)
Working Group on Intellectual Property (GTPI) Brazil
ABIA – Associação Brasileira Interdisciplinar de AIDS (Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association), Brazil
Conectas Direitos Humanos (Conectas Human Rights), Brazil
FENAFAR – Federação Nacional dos Farmacêuticos (National Federation of Pharmacists), Brazil
GAPA/SP – Grupo de Apoio à Prevenção à AIDS de São Paulo (Support Group for AIDS Prevention in São Paulo), Brazil
GAPA/RS – Grupo de Apoio à Prevenção à AIDS do Rio Grande do Sul (Support Group for AIDS Prevention in Rio Grande do Sul), Brazil
GESTOS – Soropositividade, Comunicação e Gênero (GESTOS – HIV+, Communication and Gender), Brazil
GIV – Grupo de Incentivo à Vida (Incentive to Life Group), Brazil
GrupoPela Vidda/SP (Group for Life in São Paulo), Brazil
Grupo Pela Vidda/RJ (Group for Life in Rio de Janeiro), Brazil
GRAB – Grupo de Resistência Asa Branca (Resistance Group Asa Branca), Brazil
IDEC – Instituto Brasileiro de Defesa do Consumidor (Brazilian Institute for Consumers Protection), Brazil
RNP+/MA – Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS Maranhão, Brazil
Fundación GEP, Argentina
Red Argentina de Personas Positivas (REDAR Positiva), Argentina
GEP Foundation, Argentina
Bolivian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (REDBOL), Bolivia
Health Action International – AIS Bolivia
Caribbean-International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) – LATCA, Guatemala
MSF Access Campaign, International
Third World Network, International
Restless Development, International
Knowledge Ecology International
People’s Health Movement, Global
Health Action International Global
Open Society Foundations Public Health Program, USA
Health GAP (Global Access Project), USA, Uganda, Kenya
African Services Committee, USA
Treatment Action Group (TAG), USA
American Medical Students Association (AMSA), USA
Act-Up Philadelphia, USA
Progressive Intellectual Property Institute, Cleveland, USA
I-MAK – Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge, USA
Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders (VOCAL-NY), USA
Public Citizen, USA
Health Action International, Europe
HIV i-Base, UK
STOP AIDS, UK
Student Stop AIDS Campaign, UK
FoTAC (Friends of the Treatment Action Campaign), UK
Health Poverty Action, UK
Solthis – Solidarité Thérapeutique et Initiatives contre le SIDA, France
Act-Up Paris, France
Coalition Plus, France
Farmamundi, Spain
Act Up-Basel, Switzerland
Action against AIDS Germany
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), Norway
All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH, Ukraine

Academics/Experts
Catriona Towriss, Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
Professor Brook K. Baker, School of Law, Northeastern University, US & Honorary Research Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Professor Yousuf Vawda, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
David. K Levine, EUI and WUSTL, USA
Matthew Kavanagh, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Eduard Grebe, Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Rory Horner, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, UK
Ellen ‘t Hoen, LLM, The Netherlands
Israel Osanmoh. GcIB, MIB, Founder, BIKON-PEE Trans – Continentals Foundation, Australia
David Kwesi Afreh, Omega Project Management Foundation, Ghana
Lonias Ndlovu, Senior Lecturer, University of Zululand, South Africa
Chikosa Banda, University of Malawi: Chancellor College, Malawi
Matthew Flynn, Georgia Southern University, USA
Dr Phoebe Li, Sussex Law School, University of Sussex, UK
Peter Drahos, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, Australia
A/ Prof Caroline B Ncube, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Suerie Moon, Harvard University, USA
Professor Joan Rovira, Department of Economics, University of Barcelona, Spain
Juan Carlos Tealdi, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Patrick Bond (Senior Professor), School of Built Environment & Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Tebello Thabane, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Holly Cheng, RN, University of South Florida, USA
Professor Michael Davis, member US Patent Bar, Cleveland State University, USA
Michelle Childs, UK/Brazil
Sharon Ekambaram, Head of Dr Neil Aggett Unit, MSF, South Africa
Marlise Richter, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ghent University, Belgium & School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Zackie Achmat, South Africa
Ujjwal Kumar, Formerly National Consultant (Trade & Health), MOHFW, Government of India, India
Srividhya Ragavan, Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law, USA
Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga, Bolivia
Ian Proudfoot, MSF Southern Africa Medical Unit
Tom Ellman, MSF Southern Africa Medical Unit
Eric Goemaere, MSF Southern Africa Medical Unit
Emmanual Fajardo, MSF Southern Africa Medical Unit
Mwenya Mubanga, MSF Southern Africa Medical Unit
Andrew Mews, Head of Mission, MSF South Africa and Lesotho
Gilles Van Cutsem, Medical Coordinator, MSF South Africa and Lesotho
Els Torreele, OSF, USA

[1] See http://www.i-mak.org/roadmap/.

[2] See e.g. Association for Molecular Pathology v Myriad Genetics from the most recent term of the U.S. Supreme Court.

[3] Seehttp://www.tac.org.za/community/files/file/WhySAneedsanexaminationsystem…

[4] See http://www.searo.who.int/entity/intellectual_property/data-exclusively-a…

 

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Choosing your barrister and your PR

December 22nd, 2013 Comments off

The wonderful world of litigation continues to fascinate me so I was intrigued by this reference in London’s Sunday Telegraph to some of the sideshow shenanigans surrounding the recent London case of Nigella Lawson, Charles Saatchi and their former servants accused of fraud:

2013-12-22_saatchilegalprThere it was in black and white, the role that PR spinners now play in trying to get favourable coverage for their clients in the reporting of court cases.

It reminded me of my only sortie into this field many years ago when John Elliott, then of Elders and Fosters brewery fame, was facing some kind of charge or whatever after falling a little from financial grace and I offered, and he accepted, my services to him on a success fee only basis only to find the case quickly thrown out before I had any chance to spin my brilliance. That confirmed my suspicion of the whole judicial system but he did buy me a very fine lunch.

 

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