13 September 2003

AM - Opposition continues questioning Govt on ONA reports

MATT BROWN: The Opposition's pursuit of this matter in Parliament may pause today, in deference to the solemnity of the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The Government is emphatic that it simply did not leak classified material to the journalist who wrote the article in question, Andrew Bolt, but Kevin Rudd claims their denials still leave plenty of room for wrongdoing.

KEVIN RUDD: I think they've left a gaping hole and that is whether some summary of Andrew Wilkie's original, highly classified ONA report was passed to Andrew Bolt, from which Mr Bolt then drew.

Mr Downer's language on this matter, I think, is particularly open-ended and let's see what the Federal Police investigation reveals.

MATT BROWN: The Federal Police were called in to investigate this matter more than two months ago and the Opposition argues that the Government should take the initiative and hand over all of the electric records of its contact with the outside world for the period in question.

The Government says the Federal Police will get any cooperation they request.

LINDA MOTTRAM: Matt Brown, reporting from Canberra, and Alexander Downer's office says the police will look at exactly who had the document.

The Minister's office says Mr Downer and the Prime Minister have sought assurances from their staff that no leaking of classified material has occurred and those assurances, they say, have been given. And the Government says all staff will be expected to fully cooperate with the police investigation.

Let's see. Right now we have:

  • the JIC report the prime minister has not read (the dodged dossier perhaps?)
  • the ONA secret report Andrew Bolt has not read
  • a police investigation into how Andrew Bolt quoted from the report he has not read
  • the customary denial that ministerial staff could possibly be responsible for Andrew Bolt being able to quote, verbatim according to his own article, from the secret report he has not read

    I would make some nasty crack about fairies at the bottom of Howard's garden but no self-respecting fairy would be seen dead in that location.

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