Dodgy Lib documents are deja vu all over again
It is hard to believe that not one South Australian Federal Liberal wouldn’t have tapped Malcolm Turnbull on the shoulder late last week and uttered two cautionary words – “Remember Marty”.
Where was SA’s Christopher Pyne or Nick Minchin? Where was Turnbull adviser, Adelaide’s Chris Kenny, in the lead up to the fake email affair and Malcolm’s call for the Prime Minister to resign?
Last week’s email attack in Canberra came just days after I read into Hansard an extraordinary apology from South Australian Liberal Leader, Martin Hamilton-Smith.
Let me quote from that apology.
In a Media Release issued by me on 28 April, I accused you and others of serious criminal misconduct and I also released documents that I claimed supported my allegations.
My allegations were untrue and the documents I released were forgeries.
I accept that the allegations I made against you in the Media Release and in subsequent media interviews were false and unfairly and improperly questioned your honesty and integrity.
I accept that you did not in any way act dishonestly or corruptly.
I unreservedly apologise to you for the hurt and embarrassment I have caused you, your office and your family.
That was last Tuesday.
Malcolm’s email clock was already ticking.
Turnbull’s rush to judgement followed six weeks of political humiliation for the South Australian Liberals after they dropped fake emails and briefed media about my alleged links to a company connected to the Church of Scientology (for God’s Sake), in giving them favours in exchange for political donations!
The Liberals claimed they had done thorough due diligence on the documents and emails they released.
They claimed they had lawyers look over all their material.
Their due diligence was later revealed to be untrue.
They had done no verification, and didn’t even know the identity of who had given them the documents later found to be totally fake.
I’ve been Premier for more than seven years. I was Opposition Leader for nearly eight.
It’s a tough job, which requires judgement as well as enthusiasm.
It requires caution as well as courage.
If something looks too good to be true, then it almost always is.
During my tenure as Opposition Leader, my team and I were given truckloads of documents that proved crippling to both the Brown and Olsen Liberal Governments.
In one drop, I was given more than 800 pages of Cabinet submissions, plus the Government’s internal polling on privatisation.
I was given them in a Cabinet bag following a meeting at night in a North Adelaide house, with a well-known Liberal.
I had to return the bag and the documents the next day, following hours of photocopying.
I was given other documents that helped bring down a Minister.
Kevin Foley, now my Deputy, was given the Liberals water outsourcing contract that proved so critically damaging.
I was also given authentic Treasury documents that revealed the Liberals future tax options.
We verified, and dropped them during the election campaign the night before my Ray Martin-refereed debate with Premier Olsen.
My key point is that we always knew who our sources were.
If I didn’t know, I wouldn’t use the documents.
We never accepted anything on face value, lest we were being set up.
Rather than rushing into Parliament with blood in our teeth, making wild claims, we triple-checked everything, and sometimes sat on documents for months.
A smoking gun is much more damaging than a hand grenade that goes off while you’re still holding it.
Malcolm should know that even in the law, you don’t complete your prosecution before the cross-examination has started.
It comes down to character and judgement.
If fraudsters can con you in Opposition, then what does it say about your ability to govern?
Recklessness is not a trait Australians want in a Prime Minister.
Since last Tuesday’s State Parliament, the South Australian Liberals have been consumed by leadership speculation and calls for Hamilton-Smith to throw in the towel.
Turnbull’s team were too excited to notice.
Peter Costello must be wondering if his announcement was a week too soon.
- Follow Mike on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/PremierMikeRann
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