From the Department of Alexander Downer:
Ian Verender, business columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, has written an interesting column (Be careful of the company you keep, March 31, 2012) on some of the issues confronting politicians when they exchange Parliamentary Cabinet meetings for those in corporate boardrooms. Apparently, the access to the networks of power and influence which retired politicians bring to their role as consultants and directors can sometimes generate difficulties when business scandals arise. A case in point relates to A Death in China and one of my favourite former Tories, The Honourable Alexander Downer:
What hasn’t been broadcast in the past few weeks is Downer’s role with a corporate intelligence firm called Hakluyt, founded by former officers at MI6, Britain’s secret service. Downer, along with other political and business luminaries, is on the Hakluyt International Advisory Board, but claims he has never done any work for the company in China.
It has since transpired that the British businessman Neil Heywood, who was found dead in his hotel room in China in November, was an adviser to Hakluyt although he apparently was not working on any specific project for the company at the time of his death.
The mysterious circumstances surrounding Heywood’s death have sparked a diplomatic rift between Britain and China and played a yet-to-be-defined part in what is shaping to be one of the most serious internal political crises in China in the past 20 years.
An internal crisis among ruling elites which is, perhaps, both a response to and a reflection of more serious political problems confronting the Chinese state, including, notably, a seeming increase in the last few years in expressions of popular discontent; expressions which find little, if any, outlet along formal avenues (see below).
As for the former Foreign Minister, his appointment to Hakluyt in May 2008 (five months after his retirement from Parliament) became NEWS! in October 2008. See : The Downer Age : Hakluyt & Co (October 14, 2008) | Hakluyt dons fishnet stockings! (October 13, 2008). Along with not-spying in China, Hakluyt has an undeserved reputation for not-spying on environmental and political activists, where it is not-joined by dozens of other companies in a sector of the economy that is not-growing and not-being awarded government contracts to monitor blogs like mine and not-employing local neo-Nazis like Kenneth Stewart as mercenaries…
As also noted previously (February 3, 2009), Alexander Downer spoke at an ‘Australian League of Rights’ (ALOR) event in 1987, but this fact was only publicly exposed in 1994. Typically, Downer relied upon his reputation as an idiot to escape criticism, claiming that — despite being filmed ‘looking on as SA ALOR director Frank Bawden urges the audience to read the literature “explaining the aims of the League” on their seats’ — he didn’t know who he was addressing, who organised the event and — for all I know — why he was even there (perhaps he tripped and fell?). In any case, no harm was done to the witless Adelaide private schoolboy’s career: twenty years later, he became Foreign Minister; after the Tories lost the 2007 Federal election, he was appointed vewy special envoy to Cyprus, and joined the spooky Hakluyt.
See also : The Explosion Point of Ideology in China (1967) | China in Crisis: Reason to Panic?, prol-position/wildcat, 2009 | Will China Save Global Capitalism?, Sander, Mute, July 27, 2011 | China’s Industrial Unrest, Freedom, February 13, 2012.