Hon Angus Taylor MP
- Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction
- Cabinet Minister from 2018.
- Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity from 2017 to 2018.
- Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation from 2016 to 2017.
- Federal Member for Hume 2013 to Present
Liberal Energy Minister Angus Taylor is a prominent critic of wind energy and has undertaken work for the fossil fuel lobby alongside working closely with coal lobbyists.
Ian Wiskin, The lobbyist for the controversial Korean-owned Hume Coal mine, is well-known to energy minister, Angus Taylor. Wiskin, from The Fifth Estate worked for the equally controversial Eastern Australia Agriculture, founded by Taylor, which pocketed $80 million in water buybacks.
In 2007, Taylor co-founded Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA). EAA owned two cotton growing properties, Kia Ora and Clyde, in the St George region of Queensland. Taylor has asserted his involvement in the company ceased in 2013, together with his involvement in its Caymans parent, Eastern Australian Irrigation (EAI). In 2017, the government, under then water minister, Barnaby Joyce, bought unreliable overland flow water, attached to the two properties for $80 million. EAA transferred the windfall gain to its parent company in the Cayman Islands. EAI was also co-founded by Angus Taylor in 2007.
Web-archived records from the both the federal government’s and Queensland Integrity Commission’s lobby registers show that The Fifth Estate acted on behalf of EAA from 2009 through to at least 2013. The Queensland records show that Ian Wiskin was the consultant acting for EAA in negotiations with the Queensland government. Angus Taylor was a director of EAA from 2008 to 2009 and director of its Cayman parent, EAI from 2011 to 2013 — coinciding with The Fifth Estate’s tenure as lobbyist for EAA.
Furthermore, the link between The Fifth Estate also extends to the wider Taylor family, including his brother Duncan Taylor. For the record, Duncan Taylor is married to NSW Minister, Bronnie Taylor, and aside from various farming interests he heads up the Country Universities Centres (CUC).
CUC, has been the beneficiary of $21 million of federal and state government grants over the past three years. A grant of $8 million was awarded to CUC in May 2017 by NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro. This was followed by a $5.1 million grant by the federal government, courtesy of Education Minister, Dan Tehan, and then a further $8 million from the NSW government ahead of the NSW state election. NSW Treasury documents reveal that the $16 million of grants awarded by the NSW government to CUC are “unlikely” to provide value to the taxpayer.
In May 2018, the Snowy Valley Council met with NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, seeking to convince the NSW government to establish a CUC in Tumut. The minutes of the meeting also divulge that Council met with Duncan Taylor and The Fifth Estate about the project. The Fifth Estate lobbyist at the meeting was Tim Mort, who has since moved on and now works for UK billionaire Michael Hintze’s Australian farming operation, MH Premium Farms. Coincidentally, Richard Taylor, Angus’ brother, is the chairman of MH Premium Farms. All of MH Premium Farms properties in Australia are managed by Growth Farms, a company co-founded by Angus Taylor in which Taylor still has a financial stake.
- Angus Taylor was involved in producing research for the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) during his tenure as director of the consulting firm Port Jackson Partners. At the height of the resources boom in 2012, Taylor wrote a report for the MCA cautioning that costs were too high and calling for cuts to labour costs.
- Taylor was also a member of the Victorian government taskforce to investigate the development of a coal seam gas industry in the state. Reporting in November 2013, the taskforce recommended that the State of Victoria should promote the production of additional and largely onshore gas supply.
- Taylor was a speaker at the “Wind Power Fraud Rally” organised by the anonymous anti-wind and pro-coal blog StopTheseThings.com and hosted by Alan Jones on 18 June 2013 in Canberra. StopTheseThings.com’s opposition to wind farms is based in part on debunked claims about their health impacts, including that they caused brain damage in humans.
- Taylor’s wife, Sydney barrister Louise Clegg, was quoted in the Australian Financial Review arguing that rolling blackouts might be needed to teach people that “left populism (was) not the answer” to Australia’s policy challenges.
- One of the major clients of Angus Taylor’s $400 million agricultural investment fund, Growth Farms Australia, is the UK hedge fund boss Michael Hintze who was identified as one of the anonymous funders of Nigel Lawson’s climate sceptic think-tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
- Energy Minister Angus Taylor has at least 24 staff in his of office. These include Liam O’Neil who previously worked for the corporate lobby group Bespoke Approach. Bespoke Approach was established in 2008 by Alexander Downer, Andrew Butcher, Nick Bolkus, and lobbyist Ian Smith, and has worked for a number of resources companies, including Xstrata (which merged with Glencore in 2013), Woodside Energy and Petrochina.
- Angus Taylor’s sister, Bronnie Taylor, was elected to NSW Parliament in 2015 and became parliamentary secretary to the deputy premier, John Barilaro, in 2017 and has been parliamentary secretary for southern NSW since 2016. Barilaro, the NSW Nationals Leader and Monaro MP, has been a long time proponent of “clean coal” generation and was a vocal supporter of a government led takeover of the Liddell coal- red power station if its owner AGL would not extend its life. His views have since changed and he claims to no longer support new coal generation however he begun support investement in nuclear energy projects.
- Angus Taylor’s office is under police investigation after relying on falsifyed documents to attack Sydney’s lord mayor Clover Moore, after Moore declared a climate emergency in June 2019.
- Taylor continues to support the Hume Coal project despite overwhelming local opposition from the community, with 97 percent of Moss Vale constituents objecting to its plans particularly its effect on the aquifer. There is also considerable state government and local council opposition to the mine.
Based on the evidence, the department decided against approving the project, saying:
“The predicted drawdown impacts on the groundwater aquifer would be the most significant for any mining project that has ever been assessed in NSW.”
This entry in the #RevolvingDoors series has been produced from the Dirty Power Report authored by Michael West and Simone Marsh in collaboration with Greenpeace alongside research conducted by Jommy Tee.
Please read the report here.