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Political Profile #1/Bert Van Manen/Australian Federal Senate/NLP

First in a series of occasional profiles of our elected leaders.

Bert Van Manen

Van Manen is a member of the National Liberal Party of Queensland and has held the federal seat of Forde since 2010. He sits with the Liberal Party in parliament and is the Chief Government Whip in the house of Reps. He won the seat from Labor as a result of a redistribution conducted the previous year.

According to an ABC report at the time:

"Labor had hoped to strengthen its position by shedding the southern rural areas of Forde. These areas have been transferred to the new seat of Wright, but instead of some Labor voting suburbs in Logan City, the seat has gained urban conservative voters in the Gold Coast hinterland."

His birth name was Albertus Johannes van Manen and he was born to Dutch immigrants. He was able to supply documentary evidence that he only holds Australian citizenship during the dual citizenship controversy.

His voting pattern on Bills before the House has been strictly along party lines.

In 2007, Van Manen had been an unsuccessful candidate for the seat of Rankin, standing for the Family First Party. That same year, he co-founded Vangrove Financial Planning but resigned as Director in April 2012 while retaining a 50% share. In the following month, the firm went bust owing creditors 1.5 million.

He is also on the board of Dunamis International College of Bible Ministries - itself a member of The South Pacific Association of Evangelical Colleges. Note that Dunamis is a Greek word meaning "power". His Evangelical church provides volunteers for his political campaigns.

In his maiden speech, Van Manen emphasized his religious beliefs, his sporting prowess and the high cost of living under the then Labor government, saying in part:

"The current government’s spending, both in its first term and on an ongoing basis, continues to contribute to this issue. The constant borrowing by the current government is increasing inflationary pressures and putting upward pressure on interest rates, which is in turn hurting family budgets. Now we have a government that is willing to further increase people’s cost of living by introducing a carbon tax and may well destroy our food production capacity through its poor management of the Murray-Darling Basin."

I will let the irony speak for itself.

In 2017, Van Manen campaigned against same-sex marriage and abstained from voting despite his seat supporting the "yes" vote with 61% in favor.

In 2018, his Wikipedia page was updated to delete references to his failed business. The deletions were traced to parliamentary IP addresses.

Niki Savva, an adviser to former PM John Howard, has suggested in her book, "Plots and Prayers" that Van Manen may have been a key player in the leadership spill against Malcolm Turnbull. At the time, the Member for Forde was deputy Whip and part of Scott Morrison's Bible Group In any event, his was one of six votes that swung the leadership to Morrison.

Van Manen may be the next person to be caught up in the unfolding pork barreling scandal.

In April, 2019, he handed over a stunt cheque for $100,000 to Bethania Cricket Club and Loganlea Community Center. The grant was for lighting. The club folded soon after the grant was made. Van Manen has advised that this grant was from the Community Development Grant Program and not the Community Sports Infrastructure Grants - the only source of the controversy so far.
https://www.river949.com.au/…/106880-bert-battles-against-c…

The Community Development Grant Program was itself labelled a one billion dollar pork barreling slush fund in a Sydney Morning Herald story on September 2, 2018.
https://www.smh.com.au/…/1-billion-pork-barrel-fund-waves-t…

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