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