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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

dodgy documents in SA « Previous | |Next »
June 24, 2009

There is a parallel to the Goodwin Grech fake mail saga currently consuming Canberra, and the event happened in SA several weeks ago. Just like Turnbull + Co, the SA Liberals were hoodwinked by a political hoax. Odd isn't it--the lust for a "silver bullet" solution by those desperate to get back into power at any price. It means that they see Labor rorts and cronyism (behind which stands a looming Labor corporate state) everywhere and so they go for the smear strategy.

The dodgy documents event in SA is a good example. It refers to the false emails, which appeared to have come from Labor Party headquarters. They suggested that Mike Rann, the Premier of SA, had links to a company connected with the Church of Scientology. They were anonymously dropped off to the Liberals and Martin Hamilton-Smith, the Liberal leader, then spruiked them inside and outside Parliament, without bothering to check them out, even though he said that he had.

Hamilton-Smith then accused Rann and others of serious criminal misconduct, and he released the documents that he claimed supported his allegations. He accused Mike Rann of being involved in plans to give a company associated with the Church of Scientology favourable treatment in return for $20,000 in donations organised by Labor fundraiser Nick Bolkus. Rann's Government was corrupt.

Now documents in brown envelops turn up to oppositions all the time. Oppositions rely on these leaks to get a foothold in criticising the government of the day and making them accountable. Rann gives many genuine examples from his time as Opposition leader. But the Church of Scientology? That should have been a red flag, surely, despite the Rann Government being very socially conservative.

The fallout from the dodgy documents saga is that Hamilton-Smith has had to apologize, and is currently facing legal action for defamation from both the ALP State Secretary Michael Brown and Nick Bolkus. The Liberals in SA are desperate in their desire to return to power, but they are divided, are in a bad way in electoral terms, and they appear as a rag tag party rather than as the alternative government. They need to win 10 seats to govern and have around 9 months to get their act together.

The affair has significantly damaged the Liberal Party's standing in the electorate and that of the Opposition Leader, who it is charged, doesn't have the right character (ie., trust and reliability) to be Premier. The SA Liberals have become consumed by leadership speculation, and there have been calls for Hamilton-Smith to throw in the towel. As they say, he is one bad poll away from being dumped as leader. He fights on, but he is badly damaged--a "lame duck" leader.

It is still unclear who was behind the dodgy documents hoax. No one seems to care. All the interest is focused on the rag tag Liberals who face a state election next year, and they have made little headway in making the Rann Government accountable. Instead of standing on their principles and showing why state intervention into the market economy is a bad thing--- (their core economic philosophy), they aim to show that Labor, as always, is the party of mates, rorts, special deals, cronyism and patronage.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:15 AM | | Comments (10)


The Australian reports that Hamilton-Smith, the Liberal leader, had promised Ms Vicki Chapman and her supporters he would quit as leader if the party lost the next state election to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

It's probably not enough to save him, but Ms Chapman still lacks the numbers for a successful leadership spill.

yep, Michael Owen, the Australian's SA political Reporter, has one basic story: that disgruntled senior Liberals warn that Hamilton Smith is one bad poll away from a challenge and that he "will not survive".

The disgruntled senior Liberals are in the Right faction. The Right faction were disaffected with former leader Iain Evans, and so they teamed up with the Left to install Hamilton-Smith into the leadership. Now Hamilton-Smith has to be deposed.

the SA Liberals do bloodshed well and often. Remember Dean Brown and John Olsen? Moderate faction versus Right faction. Oh, I forgot, the Liberal Party doesn't have factions. Only the Labor Party. The Liberal Party is a broad church of individual opinion.

You can always tell when the South Australia parliament is in session because every town in the state reports its idiot missing.

Seems like only yesterday that Don Dunstan was chiding the ALP rag-tag faction-ridden opposition of the late nineties as "fighting over the spoils of defeat", as the state faced the prospect of neoliberal governments as far into the future as the eye could see.

Well, the later part of the previous sentence is true in one sense but, as to the party implementing the policy, the reversal indeed came when folk least expected it and now we are faced with Rann Labor well in to the future and what's more, little sign of Tory renewal.

re your comment "and what's more, little sign of Tory renewal"----So a Liberal renewal won't happen under Vicki Chapman representing the Right faction?

Nan, do you remember the good old days when factonalism actually signified the presence of a debate of ideas going on with a grouping. Left had its critique, others theirs; same with the liberals.
Vickl Chapman apparently purports to represent the small l minority (what else!)faction within the SA libs, but she is a daughter of an old blublood clan, with all the plummy baggage that comes with that. She would be at best a stop gap leader. Their most credible alternative is a virtual unknown called Isobel Redmond, way out on the margins.
Best likely in SA we get the dreaded third term for a lugubrious Rann govt, where the dominant Right faction is incidentally currently trying to elbow out cabinet another indi called Paul Holloway. So Gary's comment about corporatism remains prescient.

"It is still unclear who was behind the dodgy douments hoax."
This is really the nub of the thing both with dodgy gate and ute gate.
We read an email is "dodgy", but the devil is inthe detail. Is it "dodgy" because it was real but stolen, or concocted? If it was munufactured, was the person who concocted it/them the same person who emailed them on and is it a real document or just a copy of one and what does that mean?
Or because it can or can't be traced to its sources, so why would it/they be used if unverifiable?
Gary. Any body. Help!

In Crikey Mungo MacCallum canvases the possibilities. he asks so, again: who set it up, and why?

Some really serious conspiracy theorists within the opposition have even opined, rather desperately, that it was in fact a Labor sting; that Grech, whom they had considered a trusted informant, was in fact a double agent who had spun his fiendish web solely to entrap Turnbull. Others, more realistic believe that Grech was just a crank who was so technologically innumerate and politically illiterate that he thought the fraud would not be detected.

But if so, what was his motive? To bring down the government? And for whose benefit ? Turnbull’s? It really seems an unlikely ambition for the quivering, self-effacing mouse we saw on television. But if Grech was only a minor cog in the plot, or if he had no part in it at all and was just the sucker who received the email, then who was the mastermind?

The available evidence would seem to point to Treasury and it is here that Turnbull, Abetz and others have a problem. Of course they are perfectly entitled to protect their sources of information. All worthwhile politicians cultivate informants within the public service and while leaking is technically illegal, it has always been seen as part of the system.

He says that forging emails is another story: it is unequivocally criminal, and should not be tolerated by members of parliament of any persuasion. If it happens that criminal charges are laid, and that Turnbull or one or more of his colleagues have been involved with the perpetrator, then the excrement will really hit the fan.

Gery, thanks for response.
The difference is that this email was malicious, not just a whistleblowers leak to reveal a foul up or injustice.
If the Liberals have so little pride in themselves that they would want to protect someone deliberately out to injure an innocent third party known to be innocent of involvment(Rudd), rather than demonstrate eagerness in the search for someone who wanted to dishonestly damage a parliamentary fellow, then we can deduce that the opposition at best has misplaced loyalties and a warped morality.
Could we conclude that the opposition more likely wants to deny help out of fear about what may be unearthed about its own involvment?
What other conclusion can we realistically reach, given the refusal to expose people they now know, if they are innocent themselves of concocting evidence, who knowingly sought to ruin another person using them?
If I were in the opposition's shoes, I would come forward to distance myself from such people, when my integrity and credibility were under a cloud,including for being shown by implication by refusalof cooperation, to be interested in the upholding of a serious lie.
On the related subject of dodgy-gate, we note the SA Liberals opposition leader Hamilton-Smith has announced a leadership spill, with his main challenger the plummy daughter of local aristocracy, the deputy leader, Vicki Chapman.
Life jackets, anyone?