BRISBANE, November 3 2014:Â The board of Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC), which has two directors with interests in fossil fuel companies, says they had no influence on a decision to reject a billboard calling for action on climate change.
The airportâ€™s decision did not reflect any value judgement about a message aimed at world leaders arriving for the G20 summit this month, a BAC spokeswoman said, but was driven by a policy not to allow billboards with a political intent.
She said neither the board nor individual directors William Grant and John Allpass had any influence on the decision, which was revealed by Guardian Australia on Sunday.
Environmental and development groups unsuccessfully sought to place a billboard that featured a farmer with the words: â€œAction on climate change is #onmyagenda, please put it on yours.â€
The groups had agreed to cut the words â€œDear G20 leadersâ€ from the original advertisement, a reference to Australiaâ€™s resistance to allow climate change on the summit agenda.
Grant sits on the boards of coal miner New Hope Corporation â€“ one of the biggest financial backers of conservative groups in recent years â€“ and oil and gas producer Bridgeport Energy.
Allpass is the chairman of Envestra, a natural gas pipeline and distribution networks owner taken over this year by a company linked to Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing.
The BAC spokeswoman said its policy ruled out advertising, whether by political parties, groups or individuals, that was â€œfocused on a particular policy issue that is the subject of political contentionâ€.
â€œThe examples in this particular case were deemed to have political intent as they were targeted at a political audience with the intent of generating response on a specific policy issue,â€ she said.
â€œThere was no value judgement made in relation to the message.â€
The BAC itself has been involved in political lobbying in recent years, making two declarations of party contributions to Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ).
The spokeswoman said these were not campaign donations and BAC was â€œintently non-partisanâ€.
In 2012, BAC gave a total of $6,809 to the state Liberal National party (LNP), with its representatives attending the partyâ€™s gala dinner, its state budget lunch and paying $4,500 for the LNPâ€™s â€œcorporate observers programâ€ which gives access to senior ministers.
In July 2011, BAC paid $1,500 for representatives to attend a lunch with the then federal treasurer Wayne Swan.
Grant is the only one of 12 BAC directors who is listed with the electoral commission as an individual donor to political parties.
In October 2011, he gave a $2,000 personal cheque to the campaign of state LNP member Ian Walker, who went on to become the minister for science, information technology, innovation and the arts.
The company on whose board Grant sits, New Hope, and its US corporate parent have given $700,000 to the LNP at state and federal level since 2011.
The company â€“ which is awaiting a state government decision on the controversial expansion of a mine on Queenslandâ€™s Darling Downs â€“ entertained the energy minister, Mark McArdle, and the environment minister, Andrew Powell, in its corporate box at a Wallabies v British Lions rugby game in Brisbane last year.
Grantâ€™s board position with BAC reportedly came under jeopardy in 2008 when Brisbane City Council under the then lord mayor Campbell Newman attempted to have him replaced by the former federal Liberal MP Gary Hardgrave.
Source: The Guardian