St Godwin v The Political Class

Tuesday, 4 August 2009 

Six weeks ago, the careers of the two most important elected positions in Australia, the Prime Minister and Treasurer, having so far weathered the fall-out from the biggest global economic crisis in sixty years, suddenly came under question based on the unsubstantiated testimony of a single man. A public servant claimed that both men had done something that was so trivial that it caused no benefit to either them or a Brisbane used car dealer they were supposed to have helped. That testimony turned out to be based on a fraud that the public servant had concocted.

Turnbull, who didn’t have the nous to see that the issue was not only trivial, but pursuing a political line that the Liberals least of all would want to pursue, made the tactical mistake of making a big deal of the claim before it had been substantiated. When Grech’s fraud was discovered, Turnbull then suffered the biggest collapse in support since polling began.

That such an incident, so trivial in nature, should turn out be so potentially damaging to two senior political figures and was actually damaging to another, should have been proof of the anti-political climate our politicians are operating in. Now, with what is becoming almost the canonisation of the said public servant, we have more.

The Australian Story took it further last night. Chris Uhlmann was filmed saying that the way Turnbull had used Godwin Grech to sacrifice his career in a senate testimony was “incredibly cold-blooded”. Give us a break. Grech was having a go at taking down the leaders of his government on the back of a lie. Let’s remind ourselves that not only is this someone who had been leaking behind his employers’ backs while Rudd has been in office, it was also someone who had spent years reporting to his political masters on his colleagues behind their backs when Howard was in office.

What Grech has been doing was forgotten as this morning’s Australian, in its relentless bid to undermine Turnbull’s leadership, takes the canonisation of Grech to absurd lengths. In a heart-rending piece, Shanahan describes how a ‘good public servant’ felt betrayed by those evil political masters who he was himself betraying. The description of Grech comes from Howard who no doubt was grateful for Grech’s spying on his colleagues and presumably not too worried about leading Turnbull up the path. The on-line edition, under a headline “Treasury official driven to ill-health by workload” even does a nice job in making it look as though his Labor task masters have not only given him small bowel obstruction, but as a result of becoming the not-so-innocent victim of a political football match, forced him to take refuge in a Canberra psychiatric ward.

It might be considered that someone who is in a psychiatric ward after just having been deceptive under oath would not be the source of reliable testimony at the moment. Nevertheless, The Australian has decided to take at face value his condemnation of Turnbull that he forced him to make up the e-mail and Shanahan has duly gone to town. It should be noted that Grech also persists with his claim that Rudd did send an e-mail. This means that Rudd’s confident assertion on that Friday that no such e-mail existed was a lie according to Grech. Given Shanahan hasn’t made a big deal of that claim we can presume that The Australian is willing to take only part of Grech’s story seriously. Nevertheless we are almost back where we started six weeks ago: the veracity of our political leaders being pitched against a public servant who is even less credible than he was back then. So who shall we believe?

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Tuesday, 4 August 2009.

Filed under State of the parties

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11 responses to “St Godwin v The Political Class”

  1. janice on 4th August 2009 8:57 am

    If there was a legitimate email as Grech sort of remembers, it would have been found. Therefore, it is just wishful thinking that Rudd told a lie. The facts are that Turnbull conspired with a known mole in Treasury to sully the reputation of, and force the resignation of the Prime Minister of this country.

    The fact that this trusted mole fabricated the evidence he gave to Turnbull does not show Turnbull’s actions or intent in a better light. Whichever way you look at this mess Turnbull got himself into, there is no way blame can be laid anywhere else. He’d do himself (and the country) a good turn if he simply took a long holiday in Tuscany to lick his wounds.

    Turnbull is not, and never will be, Prime Ministerial material and that is the crux of the matter. The Liberal Party itself needs to do a lot of work to make themselves into a credible alternative government and it is time they binned the negativity and settled down to some serious reforms of the way they do business. This nation deserves a lot better than the current rabble they present as an Opposition.

  2. The Piping Shrike on 4th August 2009 10:12 am

    Turnbull is guilty of being a political idiot, although given the e-mail came from what had been a reliable mole for the Liberals, maybe it’s an understandable mistake. Turnbull’s problem, though, I think is more the party than himself, that constantly forces him to be negative in its search for ‘values’.

    An intriguing question, though, is if The Australian believed Grech, why didn’t they go for the far more explosive part of his testimony, namely that Rudd did send the e-mail? Are they scared of him now?

  3. janice on 4th August 2009 12:06 pm

    An intriguing question, though, is if The Australian believed Grech, why didn’t they go for the far more explosive part of his testimony, namely that Rudd did send the e-mail? Are they scared of him now?

    Well, considering The Australian spent a good deal of ink lapping up what appeared to be Malcolm’s big success moment in skinning both Rudd and Swan, only to find it was all a scam of mammoth proportions, is it any wonder they aren’t going to put their bets on Grech’s belief that Rudd did send the e-mail? No, much better not to notice that bit.

  4. WT on 4th August 2009 12:38 pm

    I agree, Grech is the bad guy in all of this. Turnbull is just the stooge.

  5. James on 4th August 2009 5:12 pm

    Howard’s praise of Grech in today’s Australian shows how close he was to the Howard Government: “Godwin Grech always tried to understand what the government wanted and then advised the best way of doing it – even if you were straying from pure, optimum policy.” Sounds a lot better than what Howard has said about most of his Cabinet.

  6. The Piping Shrike on 4th August 2009 6:55 pm

    Think you’re probably right janice, although such selectivity strikes me as a very curious way to handle an ‘exclusive’ interview.

    Weren’t Howard’s comments on Grech almost the same as he used for Costello?

  7. fred on 4th August 2009 6:59 pm

    I don’t believe any of them.
    Grech, Turnbull and affiliates, Abetz, Hockey, Lewis and the OO and whoever I’ve omitted.
    Its a big bright shiny onion at the moment but when the layers get slowly peeled away a differnt picture will emerge.
    There are so many unanswered questions, so many contradictions at the present stage that to believe any of them would be naive.

  8. chica on 4th August 2009 9:05 pm

    this whole story has made me ill from the get go – grech never looked the goods that day at estimates and that he has gone to ground and now being hailed as some sort of pasty, a fall guy, saint whatever – makes me even sicker.

    quite simply, grech has contravened the APS code of conduct and values in a pre-meditated, calculated and spectacular way and as such should be promptly sacked and held aloft as an example to the other sooks and sycophants in canberra at the moment, who like the media, dont understand that THERE IS A NEW GOVERNMENT and the old play book is finished. (no-one seems to get it – the pace of change has been pathetic – bureaucratic passive resistance on a grand scale)

    piping shrike, this line says it all: “Grech was having a go at taking down the leaders of his government on the back of a lie.”

    hopefully, the punishment will fit the crime.

    of course, the punishment will be on the rest of the honest APS staff who will be forced to endure 3 hours of mandatory simplistic on line training about ‘ethics’ written by consultants for about half a million dollars that will be duly reported on in annual reports and future estimates hearings ad nauseum.

    as for turnbull: no judgement, not fit to govern. give the job to people skills, that would be at least funny watching him struggle for air and relevance in a new century and with a diminshing voting demographic all falling off the perch clutching their latest edition of catholic news.

    finally : “Treasury official driven to ill-health by workload” – TFB. their choice, they’re the best paid public servants in the land and if you want to dance that close to the devil thats the price you will pay.

    end of rant. piping shrike – love your work!

  9. chica on 4th August 2009 9:13 pm

    i cant let this go having now just read shanahans puff piece. he should substitute the words ‘create’ with ‘forged’, ‘original with ‘forgery’ and ‘error of judgement’ with ‘knew what he was doing was illegal and went ahead and did it anyway’.

    having little johnny as a professional reference after his decade plus politicisation of the SES (an effective libertarian cultural genocide process if i ever witnessed one) really doesn’t help.

    ok, ok, will let it go: now!

  10. Simon on 4th August 2009 10:09 pm

    One interesting thing that has come from this affair is that it is now clear the Liberal Party has written off the next election. I say this because after Turnbull’s abysmal handling of the issue Turnbull should have been given the heave ho (or at least there should be some signs that it is immanent). But all the real contenders for leader have firmly backed Turnbull (and I suggest will continue to do so) saying he will take them to the next election. After all, they know that they are on a hiding to nothing, no matter who is the leader it is very likely they will lose, and prob lose very badly. So why be the leader who takes your party to a losing election, leave turnbull in place let him take the blame for the loss, take over after the election and start setting things up now for the following term and election campaign. It is going to be a boring time between now and the next election in Fed politics, every Lib MP (particularly Abbot and Hockey) will be conspicuous by their absence, they will keep their heads down unless there is a very obvious win to be be had. It may even mean that the Libs will encourage a double dissolution trigger, prob ETS, and bring on an early election.

  11. Nick on 5th August 2009 10:44 am

    Correct, have worked with the guy and he’s got no credibility …

    Re his hours of work, basically guy doesnt have a life and has been working those sort of hours for years (nothing to do with the new government) and many of them are spent not doing the job he is employed to do …

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