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How a Tobacco Lobbyist Won over CSIRO

By Stewart Fist

In part 2 of this exclusive series, Freedom of Information requests of CSIRO internal correspondence reveal the machinations behind the eventual appointment of a former senior tobacco executive and lobbyist as the science organisation's Director of Communications.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Geoff Garrett and his Deputy Dr Ron Sandland had previously engaged Di Jay as their first Director of Communications. Recruited from Medibank Private, she had no experience in science or media and lasted barely a year before resigning.

This story begins with Garrett recording that Donna Staunton had made contact with him in person, from which she became aware of CSIRO’s “communications” problems and suggested that she could help. Staunton had developed a friendship with Garrett before she was employed even as a consultant by CSIRO. On 14 February 2003 Staunton emailed Garrett:

Dear Geoff,

Happy New Year. I do hope things are going well with you. I read with interest the media report this morning, which gave some insight into some of the issues you are continuing to face. I hear that John Reed has left but that you had replaced him with a very good candidate. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please let me know. Set out below are my new website and email details. Wishing you all the very best as always.

Donna Staunton
Principal
Staunton Consultancy

...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

© Stewart Fist, Lindfield, NSW. All statements made here are backed by documentation and some sample documents are quoted as direct copies (italicised), many having been obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Photos by Peter Pockley.