Hopefully Lindsay Fox had rails fitted to his steps before Andrews and Albo arrived at Portsea
from Brisbane Times and Cairns News
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was flown in Lindsay Fox’s private helicopter to a five-hour barbecue with the business magnate and Premier Daniel Andrews at the billionaire’s seaside mansion in Portsea last weekend.
The meeting between two of Australia’s most powerful politicians and one of the country’s wealthiest families was quietly held on Saturday afternoon after Albanese finished his official business in Victoria, and before he flew to the flood zone in Western Australia.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not respond over several days to requests for comment about his attendance at the social gathering and his use of the billionaire’s helicopter.
When the issue was raised with Albanese by a Nine News reporter during a press conference on Wednesday in Rockhampton, Queensland, he said: “I have private meetings all the time. And I have private meetings which are private meetings.”
Albanese travelled to Geelong on Saturday for a morning meeting and press conference with Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles. About an hour later, just before noon, he boarded Fox’s helicopter for the 10-minute flight to the trucking magnate’s seaside compound on the clifftops of Portsea.
The last time Dan Andrews attended a gathering at Portsea he ended up in intensive care for three months after allegedly falling down two steps at his rental house. Cairns News broke the story about Deadly Dan’s reported injuries which medical experts said were consistent with having been bashed and kicked severely while down.
There has been no mention of Andrews’ alleged assailant Luke Sayers who put him in hospital, being in attendance at Saturday afternoon’s barbeque.
The Fox family has extensive business interests at state and federal levels. Lindsay Fox has been described as Andrews’ “go-to billionaire” by senior Victoria Labor sources. Albanese and Andrews have also lauded the Fox family for their philanthropic endeavours, including attending the recent groundbreaking of the $152 million Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre.
Andrews,who arrived by car, and Albanese, had lunch with members of the Fox family inside the grounds of the sprawling mansion. Among those who attended was Lindsay Fox’s son, Andrew, who plays a major role in managing the family empire.
The prime minister took time out for a swim on Point King Beach. After the nearly six-hour visit he returned to Avalon Airport shortly after 6pm, again on the Fox family’s helicopter. The trip by road around Port Phillip Bay from Geelong to Portsea would normally take at least 2.5 hours.
Under parliamentary rules, the prime minister’s complimentary helicopter travel will eventually need to be declared as sponsored travel or hospitality in the register of members’ interests.
The premier’s office declined to comment on the nature of Saturday’s meeting, but confirmed Andrews had attended the barbecue. The chief executive officer of Fox Special Projects Group, Ari Suss, who often acts as spokesman for the Fox Family, did not respond to requests for comment.
Albanese has extensively documented his recent official travel on social media, and he posted a photo with Andrews on Saturday with a caption stating it was “great to catch up with my friend … in Melbourne today after my visit to Geelong”. However, there was no mention of his time spent with one of the wealthiest men in the country. Andrews, a prolific user of social media, was also silent. Andrews, made no mention he attended the Fox mansion for a barbeque.
Fox has made no secret of his ambition to develop his company’s privately owned airport, Avalon, into an intermodal transport hub that can open up new and more efficient passenger and freight routes between Australia and South-East Asia. For the family to realise this ambition, it would require assistance from the Victorian and Commonwealth governments.
The federal government contributed half the construction cost of Avalon’s international terminal and, in October 2019, Andrews led a government delegation to Vietnam to help the Fox family secure a deal with budget carrier VietJetAir to run direct flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Avalon.
However, before the pandemic struck, Avalon’s daily commercial passenger traffic comprised just one Air Asia flight to and from Kuala Lumpur and a handful of Jetstar shuttles to Sydney and the Gold Coast, the latter secured by a $12 million subsidy by the Andrews government.
Andrews was criticised by the opposition in 2021 over his close relationship with one of Australia’s richest and most influential families. In January 2021, the premier and his wife, Catherine, visited the family’s compound, where they dined with Lindsay Fox and his wife, Paula, tech entrepreneur Andrew Bassat, and Luke Sayers, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers chief executive.
At the time, Linfox, the logistics group founded by Lindsay Fox, had tendered to build a quarantine facility at Avalon Airport to house international arrivals in Melbourne during the pandemic. The Linfox bid for the facility was unsuccessful, and a 500-bed facility was ultimately built by a different bidder in Mickleham, in Melbourne’s north.
Then-shadow treasurer Louise Staley demanded Andrews distance himself from any government decision because of his friendship with the Foxes.
“Given the extent of his personal relationship with the Fox family, the premier should recuse himself from any cabinet deliberations on a quarantine facility or other decisions affecting the commercial interests of Linfox,” Staley said in February 2021.
Staley had asked Andrews in parliament how often he had visited Fox’s Portsea mansion. The premier ridiculed Staley as a “conspiracy theorist”.
Editor: Who would have thought that Albanese would associate with Andrews socially in light of Andrews’ alleged sordid, ruthless reputation.
Posted on January 12, 2023, in ALP, Anthony Albanese, Deep State, General, Victoria and tagged Avalon, Dan Andrews, Louise Staley, Luke Sayers, Lyndsay Fox, Portsea. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.