The central and by far the most powerful and influential ‘No’ campaign lobby is hiding in virtual offices and behind fake addresses. Anthony Klan investigates ‘Advance Australia’ and the publicity shy people behind it.
Two-thirds of the directors of the fake ‘grassroots’ campaign network have filed fake residential addresses with regulators; none of its affiliated arms has a telephone number — and the entire operation is ‘based’ at a fake national headquarters.
Minutes away from Parliament House, in Canberra’s CBD, is the ‘address’ of the Advance (now officially calling itself Advance Au Ltd) campaign, a murky network of at least six interconnected entities lobbying 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, in the advertisements pumped out via its shadowy web of affiliates that are flooding social media.
Including in a full-page, racist advertisement in the Australian Financial Review.
One block off 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 is aggressively fighting 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 corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Neither Advance, nor any of its network of affiliates actually operates from the building.
And they never have.
I have spent the past fortnight attempting to track down, or get comment from, those behind the anti-Indigenous Voice campaign.
At least seven arms of the network have been identified to date.
They include Advance Au 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, Guardian Australia revealed another site had popped up, ‘Christians for Equality’, which has been endorsed by far right Christian campaigner Fred Nile. (Its ‘authorised by’ statement also gives the 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 financial planner, a migration agent and a security company.
Calling a number listed online for one of those entities (the entity was not located in the building), we were provided with the telephone number of a company called Regis.
On its website, Regis advertises ‘shared office space’ on levels four and five of the building, that can be rented ‘for a day, for a month, or longer.’
Regis told us Advance was not located in the building — it was a ‘virtual office.’ A Regus employee told us Advance had a Business Address package at $85 per month.
Investigations reveal that of all the network of entities in the central No campaign group, it has just three directors.
They are Matthew Sheahan, Laura Jean Bradley; and Vicki Dunn — a long-time Liberal MP in the ACT Government.
In signed documents filed with the ASIC — for both Advance Au Ltd and Australians for Unity — Bradley and Sheahan have stated fake residential addresses, investigations show.
Each has stated their home addresses 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 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 virtual 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 US-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.
“They call it ‘Net Zero’…but there is a cost…and you’ll be the now who’ll pay,” its homepage says.
“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,” it says.
Visitors are invited to download a “Not Zero” fact sheet — which has been prepared by it and the IPA.
Advance claims to be a ‘grassroots’ operation, aggressively campaigning 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 June 30 2022, shows they boil down to just 10 entities.
All of them are vastly wealthy, the elite of the elite.
First published by The Klaxon – link here.
Anthony Klan is an Investigative journalist specialising in corporate malfeasance and corruption. Klan's investigations into the likes of superannuation, Google Australia, financial planning and Pink Batts have informed government policy and brought reform in Australia.