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US Studies Centre appoints former Trump Chief of Staff, ASIO head

Mulvaney has a history of anti-LGBT views, while Lewis sits on the board of Thales Australia.

The United States Studies Centre (USSC) today announced that Mick Mulvaney, the former Chief of Staff in the Trump administration, will join the Centre as a Non-Resident Fellow. Duncan Lewis, the former Director-General of ASIO, has also been appointed as a Non-Resident Fellow. 

Mulvaney was a Republican South Carolina legislator from 2007-2011, before being elected to the US House of Representatives in 2011. He served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under the Trump administration before being appointed as Chief of Staff to President Trump in December 2018. He was replaced in March 2020.

Duncan Lewis is a former Army Major General, Commander of the Special Air Service Regiment, Secretary of the Department of Defence, and Director-General of ASIO. After leaving ASIO in 2020, Lewis was appointed to the board of weapons manufacturer Thales Australia. USyd Chancellor Belinda Hutchison is Chairman of the Thales Australia board.

Some staff have raised concerns about Mulvaney’s anti-LGBT record. Dr Chris Pepin-Neff, a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Sydney, told Honi that “Mulvaney’s anti-LGBT views should not be given an audience at USyd. Naming him as a Non-Resident Fellow is a slap in the face to the LGBT community of staff and students.”

As a South Carolina state representative, Mulvaney co-sponsored a successful bill which defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman. In his 2008 state Senate run, Mulvaney’s campaign featured a robocall which “gay-baited his opponent for her support of ‘homosexual unions and abortion rights.’” In 2015, he co-sponsored a Federal bill which sought to allow discrimination by individuals and businesses against same-sex couples.  

A USSC spokesperson told Honi that Mulvaney “brings a unique perspective to our analysis” and that the “relevant areas for his involvement with the Centre” are “his expertise in finance and the highest levels of government.”

A University spokesperson was unable to speak on behalf of the USSC, but said that the University was “committed to building a stronger and more inclusive environment that supports our LBGTQI+ students, staff and community members.”

In 2019, Honi reported that the USSC had “entered into an arrangement with the US Department of State to conduct general political lobbying at the University of Sydney.” The USSC also receives a small portion of its funding from the US Government.