Is Turnbull going “off-line”?
Update 10.55pm: On Lateline tonight Joe Hockey did his best to turn the issue back onto Wayne Swan and the media, but confused things further when he refused to acknowledge the smoking gun email was a fake. When Tony Jones asked him if it was fabricated, Hockey said: “I don’t know, I honestly don’t know.” He also said: “We have no greater insight into the source of the alleged email than anyone else.”
As if Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t copping it enough from across the Chamber on his major Ute-gate fumblings, tonight one of his own picked up the ball and handed it to the other side.
The ABC’s Chris Uhlmann reported the Australian Federal Police intended to question public servant Godwin Grech over a string of leaks from the Treasury Department, other than the now infamous fake email allegedly found on his home computer.
According to Uhlmann, more than one Liberal told him they believed Grech had been supplying information to the Coalition, and Turnbull in particular “off-line” since the time of the Howard Government.
One of them said to the ABC political editor: “He (Grech) has been sympathetic to us for some time.”
As the revelations about Mr Grech continue at such a rapid pace, and coming from inside the Coalition no less, Turnbull’s judgement, and position, is looking more and more fragile.
An hour before Uhlmann’s report Seven’s Mark Riley said Grech had been punted out of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under Rudd, and sent packing to Treasury. Riley didn’t say it explicitly but the implication was it could have made the career public servant bitter towards the ALP.
Regardless of Grech’s perilous situation Turnbull is in a huge mess.
Door-stopped tonight by the ABC about the claims in Uhlmann’s piece Turnbull said he would never reveal his sources.
But on ABC radio this morning he as good as said he had relied on Mr Grech for the information he used to launch the Ute-Gate attacks.
In the past two days the Coalition has also waved the white flag on two major pieces of legislation, the Alcopops Tax and the Emissions Trading Scheme (they’ve put that fight off for another day) to prevent the creation of a Double Dissolution trigger, and the Coalition party room is restless. Four Coalition MPs crossed the floor yesterday on the Alcopops Bill.
Now it appears more than one of them is briefing against him on, of all things, the Ute-Gate fiasco.
In Question Time today the Coalition continued to call for Wayne Swan’s sacking over his dealings with car dealer John Grant. It’s a fair bet in Question Time tomorrow they might be a little less demanding.
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