This week the Nine papers gave a stirring account of a speech delivered by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the European resort town of Davos to a collection of powerful business figures about what they could do to help Zelenskyy’s besieged nation.
However, the piece makes clear there was more than one hero at that ski resort.
“… it was Andrew Forrest, introduced to the gathering as one of the world’s most successful businessmen, who sprung to his feet and issued a rallying call to his fellow influential corporate leaders.”
Weeks after this meeting, we are told that Forrest, “determined to put his vast resources and networks to good use, had talked his way into a face-to-face meeting with Zelenskyy in the presidential palace in Kyiv. The meeting was supposed to be brief, but it went for over an hour and was followed by several phone calls in the following days.”
Our Andrew sure is adept at talking his way into face-to-face meetings with world leaders. Let’s head around the world with Twiggy!
Back in April, Sky News revealed that Forrest had had a “frank and lively” discussion with US President Joe Biden around the billionaire’s desire to sell hydrogen to the US. Forest had already met with Biden in November, but would surely have been annoyed that none of the candid pics of the meeting featured Biden facing the camera.
Forrest has known China’s President Xi Jinping for more than a decade. Indeed he has pushed back against what he calls “immature alarmists” on the issue of Beijing’s influence, and insisted that they like us just fine:
“Whenever I have met a Chinese leader — including President Xi or [Premier] Li Keqiang — they look through the lens of both respect and affection at Australia,” he told the ABC in 2018, and describes laying out his goal to Xi personally: “I wanted to end modern slavery in the world”.
It’s that last point that has caused some tensions, with Crikey asking why he continues to trade with China and spruik warm relations between the countries in light of the horrifying treatment of the country’s Uyghur population.
Further, it lead to a mini-incident in April 2020 when Forrest “ambushed” then health minister Greg Hunt by inviting Chinese consul-general for Victoria Long Zhou to an event thanking Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation for his purchase of 10 million coronavirus testing kits from China for the Australian government. Zhou was then invited to the podium for what Janine Perrett called at the time “a good bit of propaganda on China’s handling of the coronavirus”.
Every Australian leader ever
Needless to say, Forrest has had the ear of every prime minister and state premier he cares to, whether it’s Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, Western Australia Premier/Emperor Mark McGowan, or, of course, recently departed PM Scott Morrison: