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Australia Crown's secret consultancy deal with ALP powerbroker Stephen Conroy

14:33  23 july  2021
14:33  23 july  2021 Source:   theage.com.au

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Stephen Michael Conroy (born 18 January 1963) is an Australian former politician who was an Australian Labor Party member of the Senate from 1996 to 2016, representing the state of Victoria. He served as a minister in the Rudd and Gillard Governments.

Former senator and Victorian Labor powerbroker Stephen Conroy has been appointed head of a new gambling industry lobby group, his first job since ending his 20-year parliamentary career. Mr Conroy has been appointed executive director of Responsible Wagering Australia, a new industry body backed by bookmakers Mr Conroy , who quit politics in September, will be executive director of the group, whose members will be required to "uphold the highest standards of integrity and probity". During his time as minister for the digital economy, Mr Conroy was in charge of overseeing online gambling laws.



James Packer's troubled casino group has secretly engaged the Victorian Labor powerbroker as a consultant as it tries to hang on to its Victorian casino license. © AAP James Packer's troubled casino group has secretly engaged the Victorian Labor powerbroker as a consultant as it tries to hang on to its Victorian casino license.

James Packer's troubled casino group Crown Resorts has secretly engaged Victorian Labor powerbroker and former federal senator Stephen Conroy as a consultant amid mounting doubts over the future of its Melbourne casino license.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald can reveal Crown engaged Mr Conroy's firm TP Public to advise it on dealing with the fallout from the Victorian royal commission. The highly confidential agreement between Crown and TG Public contains a strict non-disclosure agreement. Mr Conroy declined to comment when contacted by this masthead.

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Stephen Conroy resigned from the Senate last week. When the news broke it caught Tanya Plibersek by surprise mid-press conference. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/AAP. Stephen Conroy has named factional powerbrokers Don Farrell, Richard Marles and David Feeney as those who “have got Bill Shorten’ s back” after his resignation as the senator apologised for catching colleagues by surprise. In an interview on Sky News on Tuesday Conroy defended his policy legacy in media reform.

More than 50 Islamic organisations are set to launch legal action against an ALP powerbroker over claims he racially vilified Turkish and Lebanese Muslims, amid increasing internal pressure for the Victorian Labor party to act. Internal tensions within the Labor Party hit fresh lows after Mr Sidhu was allegedly assaulted at a suburban branch meeting on January 25, before escalating further last week when secret recordings of him were leaked. In his letter to MPs, Mr Sidhu also called on the administrative committee to investigate the "full circumstances" of the January 25 meeting, in which

The royal commission has uncovered a string of damaging revelations about Crown, including widespread breaches of responsible gambling laws and the underpayment of up to $480 million in state taxes.

Counsel assisting the royal commission Adrian Finanzio, SC, this week said Crown was unfit to hold a casino licence and recommended that it be revoked. He also said that executive chairman Helen Coonan and Crown Melbourne boss Xavier Walsh should not be associated with the company.


James Packer's troubled casino group has secretly engaged the Victorian Labor powerbroker as a consultant as it tries to hang on to its Victorian casino license. © AAP James Packer's troubled casino group has secretly engaged the Victorian Labor powerbroker as a consultant as it tries to hang on to its Victorian casino license.

Crown has been desperately lobbying the Andrews Government to allow it to retain the license for its Melbourne casino, which contributes about 70 per cent of its earnings.

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12:27am: Labor powerbroker Stephen Conroy locks in behind Shorten' s leadership. 12:42am: Laurie Oakes slams Turnbull' s speech as pathetic. 10:02am: Xenophon remains open to dealing first with the party who has the largest numbers in the House. 10:05am: Pauline Hanson rejects Sam Dastyari' s invitation for a Halal Snack Pack in Western Sydney. 10:10am: Under hypothetical projections of a 10-member Senate crossbench (Xenophon 3, Hanson 3, Lambie, LDP, Nile, one more) the Coalition would have to secure 9 out of 10 crossbenchers to pass legislation presuming ALP /Greens blockade.

Prominent ALP member Ari Suss had also been floated as a possible candidate but 7.30 understands Mr Suss is not planning to nominate at this stage. Neither Mr Conroy nor Mr Shorten have publicly backed a replacement candidate. Mr Conroy , a Labor Party powerbroker , surprised his colleagues by quietly resigning three weeks ago from the role he had held for 20 years. Final nominations for the Senate seat close at midday on Thursday. Labor' s Public Office Selection Committee will meet on Thursday night to vote on who gets the role.

The company wrote to the Victorian government a week before the close of evidence at the royal commission, warning it may default on its debt if the license were revoked. The letter was described by commissioner Ray Finkelstein QC as being designed to "avoid a particular finding the commission might make".

Mr Conroy is considered one of the Victorian Labor Party's most powerful figures. Since leaving public office, the former federal communications minister and factional kingpin has worked as a lobbyist for the gambling industry and as a commentator on Sky News Australia.

One senior Crown executive told The Age and Herald they did not know exactly what Mr Conroy's consultancy role involved but did not rule out the possibility one of his tasks was to find new directors for the board that might meet with the Andrews govenrment's approval.

This conflicted with another Crown inside source who said Mr Conroy's contract did not involve finding new directors and that this was "above his pay grade".

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Beneath the bravado and deal -making of a chronically ambitious politician is a self-described "stackathon" that has funnelled hundreds of fake members into local ALP branches, to seize control of large sections of the Victorian Labor Party and become a powerbroker with unrivalled influence. According to Somyurek, state and federal ministers are intimidated by him. The numbers he claims to control – almost two-thirds of the Victorian ALP – mean Somyurek has been impervious to any challenge from Andrews, Anthony Albanese, Bill Shorten or any other Labor heavy hitter.

Conroy ’ s abrupt departure from politics in mid-September triggered a vacuum in the Victorian right faction. Infighting about his replacement in the Senate has been thundering behind the scenes for days as various sub-factional groupings within the Victorian right have faced off over the the nominations. Richard Marles, a close ally of Shorten’ s , and a figure the Victorian right was hoping would move into Conroy ’ s institutional role as factional fixer, was backing lawyer Diana Taylor for Conroy ’ s spot.

A Crown spokesperson said that Mr Conroy's contract strictly prohibited him from acting in a lobbying role. Such a position would require a listing on a state government register of lobbyists.

However the spokesperson the confirmed existence of the agreement with Mr Conroy's firm, and that one of its tasks was to prep Crown witnesses that appeared before the Royal Commission.

Uncertainty over the licence has left Crown in financial limbo and wiped billions from its market value. On Friday Sydney based The Star withdrew a $12 billion proposal to merge with Crown.

Crown is now actively looking to replace Ms Coonan with the contenders firming up to be either existing Crown board member Nigel Morrison or director-elect Bruce Carter.

The findings of the royal commission are due to be handed down by Mr Finkelstein in October.

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