A senior adviser to the Prime Minister, Miles Jordana, was told in early October 2001 - almost a month before the last election - that photographs purporting to show asylum seekers throwing their children overboard were misrepresented.
The photographs, distributed by the Government to buttress its claims of "un-Australian" behaviour by boat people, were splashed in newspapers and on TV across the country as proof that the alleged incident had occurred.
However, senior Defence officials and the office of the Defence Minister, Peter Reith, were aware that they were not authentic the day they were publicly released on October 10.
The Herald has been told this information was promptly passed on to Mr Jordana, John Howard's international adviser and point man on the issue.
Mr Jordana was told unequivocally that the photos were of the sinking of the refugee boat on October 8 - the day after the Government said the children overboard incident occurred.
The Government never corrected the misrepresentation, or conceded that the event had never happened, until after the November 10 poll which returned Mr Howard for a third term.
This is all bcoming a bit of a problem for the Man of Steel and his groupies in the blogosphere. Expect the customary defence:
- It didn't happen.
- Even if it did happen, it didn't matter.
- Even if it did happen and it did matter, the Australian people are too stupid to understand.