4 September 2004

bombshell goes phut

If you hurry (as the great majority of professional journos reporting it have not) to the homepage of the Select Committee on the Scrafton Evidence you can download the entire day's proceedings. It's worth doing because the transcript bears little resemblance to most media reports.

According to the fat and bloated old media, Senator Brandis produced evidence that showed Scrafton's phone call to the prime minister only ran for 51 seconds. No such thing happened. Brandis claimed to have evidence of two calls, one lasting 9 and a half minutes and one lasting 61 seconds.

CHAIR—If it is a point of order, you may intervene; if it is a question, you will need to seek Senator Brandis’s acceptance that you interrupt his questioning.

Senator BARTLETT—I guess it is for a ruling from the chair—and I know you have raised it a bit. I appreciate that Senator Brandis wants to put all this on the record, but can we have an overarching recognition from the chair that saying all these repeated statements that this establishes, this is a fact, this is now acknowledged is simply not the case. We have not seen these records. Even if we did see them, we would have no way of knowing whether or not they are accurate.

Senator FAULKNER—I do not believe anything the Prime Minister’s office says about anything.

Senator BARTLETT—Can we have a suggestion or something rather than this continual assertion that this is fact all the time?

Senator FAULKNER—And I do not believe anything the Prime Minister has ever said about anything. He is a known liar. Senator Brandis knows that—and says it.

CHAIR—Order, Senator Faulkner! It is up to this committee to evaluate, in the long term, all the evidence we hear, and everyone can put their assertions. It is not up to me to make a ruling on Senator Brandis’s credibility here today. I have indicated to Senator Brandis that I think I have given him what I regard as reasonable latitude out of the chair to set up the direction of his questions.

Senator BRANDIS—And I have done that. I have finished doing it.

CHAIR—You have well and truly done it is the point being made. Let us just get on with the questioning. I do point out that I have not had the chance to ask any questions yet. I am waiting patiently. Senator Brandis, you have got the call.

Brandis is a QC. He knows his stuff when it comes to examining a witness. Presumably, he also knows that leading evidence from the bar table carries no probative value at all. All he's done is wave about a document he says shows the phone records. He's refused to table the document. The media should really have picked this up.

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