EXCLUSIVE: A disgraced Darwin Turf Club board member who was forced to resign by Chief Minister Michael Gunner for “improper conduct”, has been appointed chair of another government-funded board that her company has previously had contracts with, the NT Independent can reveal.
Anya Lorimer, who runs Campaign Edge Sprout – a Labor-aligned Darwin marketing firm that publishes vanity periodical Territory Q magazine – was appointed chair of the Activate Darwin board last week, after recently resigning from the DTC board over its botched handling of the $12 million grandstand project that the ICAC found breached the public trust.
The new position will see Ms Lorimer take a lead role in how Activate Darwin operates. The group awards government grants and other money for Darwin CBD promotional activities – money that her company has previously benefitted from.
According to Campaign Edge Sprout’s website, the firm was paid an undisclosed amount by Activate Darwin “to deliver the full suite of event services” for last year’s Darwin Laksa Festival.
The company was also paid by Activate Darwin to produce a Christmas magazine last year and has written articles about the group in Territory Q, which publishes articles based on a fee system, although it’s unclear how much the company was paid for the Activate Darwin articles.
“Activate Darwin commissioned Campaign Edge Sprout to create a Christmas Gift Guide magazine, promoting Darwin City retail and hospitality businesses, encouraging visitation and spend in Darwin City in the lead up to Christmas,” the company’s website stated.
The NT Independent understands Ms Lorimer will also be paid more than $300 per meeting by taxpayers to chair the Activate Darwin board, that is made up of local business and hospitality industry leaders and funded through the federal Darwin City Deal partnership program with the NT Government and Darwin Council.
It is run through the Department of Chief Minister.
Ms Lorimer did not respond to the NT Independent’s questions, including how she intends to manage the perceived conflict of interest of chairing the board of an organisation that her company lobbies for marketing contracts.
Mr Gunner also did not respond to questions, including why his department would appoint Ms Lorimer to the role of chair after she was forced to resign from the Darwin Turf Club board with other members for what he said was “improper conduct”.
Ms Lorimer was part of the DTC board that approved chair Brett Dixon’s company Jaytex being awarded the $12 million contract to build the grandstand, which the ICAC found was a breach of public trust.
Records from Turf Club board meetings revealed that Ms Lorimer told the board that awarding the contract to Jaytex did not pass “the pub test” and would ultimately go to the ICAC for investigation, but for some reason she supported awarding the contract to Jaytex anyway.
Those records also show that Ms Lorimer declared being paid by the Turf Club for “marketing services”.
Campaign Edge Sprout has deep ties to the NT Labor Party, employed party operative Kent Rowe
Campaign Edge Sprout’s client list boasts a number of NT Government-funded organisations and programs, as well as top tier business and industry groups including Dixon Group and Jaytex, Darwin Port, Darwin Racing, Mix 104.9, Mindil Beach Casino, all major mining and natural gas players in the NT, as well as Activate Darwin, according to its website.
Ms Lorimer and Campaign Edge Sprout have long been linked to the NT Labor Party, having employed former NT Labor Party secretary Kent Rowe after he was rolled from that position.
Mr Rowe worked at Campaign Edge Sprout while simultaneously running Labor’s 2020 election campaign which saw Mr Gunner and his team returned to government.
Ms Lorimer did not respond to a question about whether she had received money from Labor or the NT Government to pay Mr Rowe while he ran the campaign.
Mr Rowe left the company late last year after being promoted to a senior position in Mr Gunner’s inner sanctum of senior advisers, but was forced to resign from that role after Mr Gunner said he lied about his involvement in the Labor cocaine sex scandal earlier this year.