Welcome to the Oligarchs Project

Promo Photo2I am a politics academic from the University of New South Wales, Canberra. I have previously been an award winning economic adviser in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, a press gallery journalist the Sydney Morning Herald, and a senior policy adviser to Natasha Stott Despoja when she was leader of the Australian Democrats.

I am doing a research project into the power of big business in Australian politics.

I will be using this blog to share my findings as I go, and to share other odds musings on politics.

What do business get in return for their donations?

This article was first published on The Conversation June 1, 2016 

My surfing companion looked glum. He invested in start-up companies and it had been a bad year.

“I lost more than $200 million this year,” he said.

“That was careless,” I said.

“Yes, my boss thinks so too,” he replied. “But I’ve realised my mistake. I selected companies on the strength of their technology, when I should have picked them based on their relationship to government.” Continue reading “What do business get in return for their donations?”

About the Oligarchs Project

The project seeks to test Wayne Swan’s assertion to see if it is true, or just political posturing by the Labor Party.

Wayne Swan slide2.png


The impetus for this project was that I was teaching a course on Australian politics. To spice things up a bit, I got each student to pick an issue they cared about, and to track their issue through the political decision making process. The students were tasked with identifying who attempted to influence the government decision on their issue and who ultimately prevailed.

I thought it would shake up some of the students doe eyed idealism a little bit. However even I was shocked when the students analysis concluded that big business prevailed in 13 of the 14 issues in which they had interests in play.