Labor Senate candidate working for gas giant Santos in lead up to election
A Queensland Labor Senate candidate has been working as a political strategist for gas giant Santos in the lead up to his run at this year’s federal election.
Anthony Chisholm, the former state Labor campaign director credited with toppling Campbell Newman’s LNP government last year, began working for Santos six months ago just before the party confirmed he was on its ticket.
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It is understood Chisholm’s role at Santos has been confined to providing advice on maintaining mainstream political support amid an ongoing campaign against the coal seam gas (CSG) industry by environmental and landholder groups.
Santos maintains Chisholm has not been involved in any lobbying of the state government, which in December gave preliminary approval to the company’s GLNG gas field joint venture spanning central and southern Queensland.
Chisholm resigned as campaign director for Queensland Labor last year after helping achieve a landslide swing against the Newman government, installing the Palaszczuk government in a shock victory.
He joins a long list of political figures associated with both Labor and the Liberal National party who have worked in the resources industry, in what Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters has called a “revolving door”.
These include former premier Campbell Newman’s chief of staff Ben Myers, who previously worked for Queensland Gas Company. Former senior public servants who have also worked in the gas industry include Ross Rolfe, the former co-ordinator general and director general of premier and cabinet under Labor’s Peter Beattie and his successor under Newman, Jon Grayson.
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Santos was enmeshed in some controversy when its logo appeared on Queensland police vehicles in a sponsorship deal in 2014.
But its political position in New South Wales has been more precarious in the face of an ardent anti-CSG movement that has left it the state’s sole industry operator.
Chisholm’s role with Santos is due to end in coming months when he hits the federal campaign trail. He replaces retiring Queensland senator Joe Ludwig.
He declined to comment to Guardian Australia.
A Santos spokesman confirmed Chisholm had been an employee of Santos since October.
“He has been providing strategic advice to Santos,” the spokesman said.
“He has not had any contact with the Queensland government in his capacity as a Santos employee.”