Thursday 30th of March 2023

Who Paid The Fifty Grand For The US Congressman To Visit Adelaide?

It's amazing how much stuff that's unremarked on in Australia (let alone Adelaide) can be found by googling "defenSe" and not by our own spelling.  I can't find local reporting of a US Congressman serving on the Armed Services Committee visiting Adelaide last February, but the jaunt has raised eyebrows "back home".  It was written up in the Washington Examiner as "the most expensive privately funded trip on record".

On what was (across the dateline) Valentine's Day in the US, Congressman Mike McIntyre and his wife arrived in South Australia for a week-long visit.  The trip was paid for by South Australia's Defence Teaming Centre, an industry organisation that liases with the State Government run defence department DefenceSA.  DefenceSA is run by Mr Andrew Fletcher, who served as Halliburton's Global Vice President for Infrastructure during the early Iraq war years.

US research site Legistorm reports that the couple visited Adelaide between February 15th and 22nd, and that McIntyre "attended defense related briefings, met with officials within the defense industry".  The reported cost of the visit is $US49,635 and six cents.

When asked by the US's ABC about the trip, McIntyre explained "This trip was not at taxoayer expensel  The House Ethics Committee specifically approved the purpose of this trip which was to address America's alliances in the Pacific".    

South Australia proudly proclaims itself as "The Defence State', and local submarine and warship construction are led by major international players,Raytheon and BAE, with assistance from facilities built by KBR.  Lockheed-Martin are assisting local defence investors participate in the Joint Strike Fighter Project.

The State also hosts over one third of the world's kknown uranium, and final exploration of the Great Australian Bight's energy reserves is about to begin.  The planned site of an associated oil and gas port plant, slightly downstream from the naval construction facilities is currently the centre of a land purchase scandal, having been sold by the State Government and set aside for such purpose without the normal processes of public tender.

US President Barack Obama, on hearing of McIntyre's announcement in January that he was retiring from politics, said that "Mike McIntyre has been a strong advocate for our men and women in uniform."

The main question I have is as to where the "not-for-profit" Defence Teaming Centre found the fifty thousand to fund the trip?  I can't help wondering that a holiday to such a supposedly insignifigant place was the US Defense Giants' idea of a thankyou-and-farewell present.  Would you be surprised?