Allan Takes Aim Blog

Ac”ute” pain for Rudd and Swan

Posted on: 21 June 2009

I hold the same brief for Kevin Rudd as I did for John Howard because, despite promising to scrap Howard’s policies if he became Prime Minister, his policies are Howard’s in disguise.

But one thing Rudd has changed since being elevated to Australia’s highest political office:  his demeanour.  His cultivated ordinary bloke image has disappeared and been replaced by a new image as benevolent dictator, though woe betide any one who stands in his way.

 In a sense, he is less the Dietrich Bonhoeffer man than a man who fits Acton’s famous dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. ”  

This can be seen in the Parliament when the PM, with back to the Speaker – a disrespectful attitude I suggest – in arrogant pose, leans on his elbow at the despatch box and lectures, some people would say hectors, the peoples’ representatives as if he was speaking to backward children.

 Which brings me to the affair of the free ute and missing e-mail, both of which are casting a giant shadow over the honesty of Kevin Rudd and the Treasurer. But every action has a reaction it is said. The reaction in this case was that Prime Minister Rudd said the missing e-mail was a fake, a Liberal confection and that Malcolm Turnbull the Opposition Leader knew this to be true. Mr Swan concurred.

The missing e-mail was allegedly sent by Dr Andrew Charlton, a senior advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office, to Godwin Grech, the senior Treasury Officer in charge of the OzCar scheme the Government introduced to assist car dealers facing financial difficulties due to the Global Financial Crisis. It is alleged the e-mail requested Mr Grech to help out John Grant, motor dealer, near neighbour, political supporter and friend of Mr Rudd, who had supplied Mr Rudd with a free ute to help with his election campaign, but was having difficulty getting finance under the scheme. 

 In the parliament, both Mr Rudd and Mr Swan denied any knowledge of the e-mail but, confection or not, the message in the alleged fake e-mail was published on the front page of The Australian, Saturday July 20. If the e-mail turns out to be genuine then clearly the Prime Minister and Mr Swan have misled parliament. As the e-mail has not turned up, for the moment, at least, it seems the PM is in the clear.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Treasurer Wayne Swan. Despite his protestations (some people have said he protests too much) there appears to be such a trail of correspondence between his office and Mr Grech about Mr Grant, that the eventual outcome might be a political ballet dance “The Dying Swan.”

The argument about the email might seem like a storm in a teacup because many people will have experienced receiving e-mails that later disappeared. I know I have and though I will never be able to prove I received them, the messages they contained remain inscribed on my mental diary.

Some people might think that misleading parliament a trivial issue. It is not. It is a crime not to be tolerated regardless of the perpetrator’s standing because, apart from the politician concerned lying to the people, it diminishes the standing of parliament. 

One can but hope that between them, the Auditor General and Australian Federal Police, who has been given carriage of investigating the case of the missing e-mail, will bring sanity to the Parliament so that it can carry on doing its job of Governing for the people, not for the benefit of Parliamentarians and their friends.

For local news get The Chronicle


1 Response to "Ac”ute” pain for Rudd and Swan"

Thanks for your post. As the original article was posted in June 2009, that it has taken more than two years for you to reply suggests you really don’t have much to say. And nor do I write so that I can get attention but that the subject gets attention. And as for whining, after reading your post I now know how to go about it. Indeed had you somnething to say you should have said it then, not waited for over two years.

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