Peter Costello

Stephen Andrew statement on The Curious Case of Peter Costello

The role that ‘conflicts of interest’ can play in government decision-making is rarely discussed and increasingly difficult to detect. It usually involves cozy, mutually beneficial ‘quid pro quo’ relationships between high-level bureaucrats, politicians, foundations, media and wealthy vested interests in the corporate sector.
Today, those ‘wealthy vested interests’ are just as likely to be a giant medical or biotech company, or members of the highly ‘corporatised’ university sector that gobbles up billions in research monies each year, while making trillions in profits from intellectual property rights. All are financially intertwined with Big Tech, Big Data, Big Government and Big Media – all of which make up Australia’s ‘Bio Industrial Complex’.
Here is just one example illustrating the many conflicts of interest and concentration of power amongst Australia’s government/corporate/media elites. Peter Costello was the Treasurer under John Howard for many years. Today he is the Chair of the Commonwealth Government’s largest financial asset – the Commonwealth Government’s Future Fund.
The Fund has around $246 billion invested in various global companies. Its top investments include all the ‘Big Pharma’ names, like CSL, Pfizer, GSK, Johnson & Johnson and Merck. It holds shares of $1.064 billion in CSL, $270.4 million in Roche, $246 million in Johnson and Johnson, $188 million in Pfizer, $153 million in Novartis and over $144 million in Merck.
The Fund also invests heavily in ‘Big Tech’ with shares of $700 million in Apple, $656 million in Microsoft, $606 million in Tencent, $494 million in Alphabet (Google) and $308 million in Facebook.
Interestingly, Mr Costello is also the current Chair of another wealthy and powerful organisation in Australia, the giant media monopoly, Nine Entertainment Holdings. In addition to the Channel Nine multi-channel network, NEH owns Stan, Wide World of Sports and many of Australia’s best-known news outlets, including Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Age, Brisbane Times, WA Today and the Australian Financial Review. It owns a string of radio stations across the country and a stable of Lifestyle magazines covering everything from food to financial advice.
So, basically, we have two enormously powerful organisations within Australia, one with connections to the government’s billion-dollar investments in Big Pharma and Big Tech, and the other, a giant monopoly provider of Australia’s news and information. All seemingly under the influence and control of one person, ex-Treasurer, Peter Costello.
I am not saying that one hand could be influencing the other here – just pointing out how tightly controlled Australia is at the top, and how riddled with ‘conflict of interest’ issues, which someone really needs to get to the bottom of – and soon.
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