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19 June 2009 @ 10:30 pm
Oh good ...  
A political crisis closer to home that is also incomprehensible. Yippee!

Australia, like much of the Western world, has seen the easy availability of finance curtailed as a result of the Global Financial Crisis. Given that some industries, like car dealerships, rely on credit to function, the government has stepped in to arrange financing to help (which is reasonable enough given that the scheme should end up costing little by its very nature, and certainly saving the money spent in terms of jobs and keeping the economy going.) The financing scheme is known as Ozcar.

One of the recipients of aid under the Ozcar scheme is a man named John Grant, who is an old friend of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. Grant loaned Rudd a ute (a car with a tray on the back) for his electoral campaigning, and is also connected with Wayne Swan, the Treasurer.

The Opposition has been attempting to make the case that Grant's inclusion in the scheme was blatant favouritism. The PM and Treasurer have held to the line that Grant is a businessman whose company meets the criteria for finance and so had been selected purely on merit.

Today, the remarkably named Godwin Grech, a senior Treasury official, spoke to a Senate Committee and told them it was his understanding that the Prime Minister's Office had contacted him regarding Grant at the beginning of the process and he believed that favourable treatment had been encouraged.

If this is true, it is very bad news for the government, because Rudd and Swan have both denied being involved in response to questions in parliament. Should it turn out that they have lied, they will be guilty of misleading parliament, which is an offence that generally sees a person quickly removed from office.

However, the testimony given by Mr Grech was frankly bizarre. Grech was nervous and stuttering and did not give a clear account. In fact, his testimony included the phrase 'My recollection might be totally false'. There is no paper trail, no record of the alleged email can be found in the computer systems involved (which are archived and include deleted emails) and the auditor general has now been called in to conduct an inquiry.

So, in the next week, we could have a new PM, or it could all turn out to be another of those mad incidents that happen when you overwork public servants for too long and they finally snap. (NB, for my American friends: in the UK , Australia and New Zealand, that involves either running naked through a public space or developing complex theories that may or may not involve a degree of paranoia, however –happily – no guns.)

I swear, if Malcolm Turnbull ends up PM, I am going back to England. The man's a weasel.

Vaysh Swiftstormvaysh on June 19th, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
Seriously, if it wasn't for your posts and fic, I would not understand British and Australian politics at all :). *shakes head at politics* This reminds me strangely of the huge political desastre debate when our then Cancellor Schröder just could not admit a 1. woman from 2. the former East and 3. the CDU had clearly defeated him. I am still concinved he was on coke. There is no other explanation.

"Godwin Grech", though? You're sure this is not from some HP fanfic??

blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 19th, 2009 02:57 pm (UTC)
I KNOW! And he looks as though he is being played by a slightly (very slightly) more able-bodied Stephen Hawking.

It is all VERY bizarre. I think I have taken to writing some of these posts just so I can look back in years to come and remind myself what the hell was going on.
rubyemerald_1 on June 20th, 2009 12:25 am (UTC)
He reminded me of Woody Allen. And you know, KRudd has been such a disappointment. It started so well...On a happier note, Isn't Bob Brown the best. Senate and the glass ceiling. Sure women have equality.
old_enoughold_enough on June 19th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
You forgot the situation in which the MP/Goevernmental official clearly and suddenly looses their mind and has a completely bizarre and very public affair that seems to always involve suspenders--regardless of the combination of genders involved in said affair.

(NB Again for the Americans--suspenders are called garters/garter belts over in your part of the world.)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 19th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
That's only for Ministers and Heads of Departments ;-)

(And isn't it almost always the case that it is impossible to imagine one person wanting to have sex with the person involved, let alone two, if we count the absent spouse …)
old_enoughold_enough on June 19th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
What many of us on the continent have trouble getting our heads around is that someone can get kicked out of government for what they get up to in their bedrooms with a consenting adult.

The only statement of opinion I can remember here, back when Clinton was having his problems, were comments about his excoriable taste in women.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 19th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)
I think that it's still reasonably acceptable to be putting it about if one is a pollie in the UK, Australia or the NZ, but no longer in the US.

After all, people knew that John Major and Edwina Currie were having an affair during his Prime Ministership, and that the former Australian PM was shagging a female 'friend' for some time, but it was kept quiet, or merely giggled about with horror during dinner parties (perhaps because no one really wanted to think of any of the parties involved without clothes).

I think the only time it is seen as a major issue in the non-US Anglo-Saxon world is when there is a strong degree of hypocrisy involved, such as Family Values politicians shagging secretaries or young men.

Amusingly, in Australia, the Prime Minister before the previous one was 'inned'. Rumours were widely circulated that he was gay, the country's leading gay newspaper conducted a poll, when they found that no one knew any man who had slept with him, they decided that it was just too improbable he would be that good at keeping a secret in Sydney, and so he was obviously straight.

That whole sequence was reported with so much comedy that it was worth the inherent silliness of the situation.
old_enoughold_enough on June 19th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC)
Was there a suspicion that the PM's campaign was trying for the gay vote with the rumours?
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 19th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
No, it was just after he had been voted out. And he had already secured the majority of the queer vote, just not most of the venal middle class :-)
Randy: Kiss Me Brian Justindrgaellon on June 19th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
That is... delightfully hysterical. The same is true of any number of celebrities, Tom Cruise being one who comes to mind. The only man to ever have actually claimed to have slept with him (in a French-language magazine, not US, no less) could provide no proof, and was later found to suffer from mental illness.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:10 am (UTC)
I cannot imagine anyone voluntarily sleeping with Tom Cruise; between the ego and the crazy, let us not mention the nose, it would all be far too much.
Azure Jane Lunaticazurelunatic on June 19th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
It wasn't so much the "consenting adult" part that Clinton was in actual jeopardy for, it was the "and lied under oath about it" bit.

If only he'd said "Why yes, I was in fact accepting blowjobs from that intern!" he would have been in social trouble but not legal trouble.
autumn_veelaautumn_veela on June 19th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC)
Oh good, I'm glad you've posted this. I keep hearing the headlines then think "just another political scandal, can I even be bothered?". I didn't realise it was this important.

Malcolm Turnbull is a terrifying prospect. If he ends up PM, I'll come with you. Surely Gordon Brown will be gone soon, anyway...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 19th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
On the upside, should the worst come to worst, that means Julia Gillard right now, and I have a strange love for her!
autumn_veelaautumn_veela on June 19th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, me too! Everyone else seems to hate her, but I have an odd amount of trust in her. Maybe it's just a whole female empowerment thing? Or maybe she's actually a bloody good politician... we'll see. (Note: don't trust my instincts when it comes to politics, I also got a good vibe from Mark Latham. Julia will be a baby-eating devil, knowing my luck.)

I don't know though, the Australian public, as fickle as it is, can find fault in anything and anyone. I think K. Rudd will come out of this shiny and clean and everyone except the Liberals will have forgotten it in a few weeks. : )
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:13 am (UTC)
I think she's oddly pretty, and she's just smart and hard working to a degree that I find eminently impressive. I have never heard anything actually bad about her, unlike Latham ;-)

I think that KRudd may actually be innocent of all accusations, which is odd, as I am not used to thinking of politicians as being innocent.
This Girlthisgirl_is on June 19th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
Do we think someone with a vested interest in making Messrs Rudd and Swan look bad might have found out that Mr Grech has been a Very Bad Man?
Randy: Civil Marriagedrgaellon on June 19th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
GTMA (see my comment below yours).
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC)
Actually, it seemed more that he was acting in good faith, which is why he found the whole thing so very difficult. From the way he spoke, and what he said, it seemed as though he was convinced he had received such a communication, but not wholly convinced that it was authentic. But how to say that in front of a Senate committee was far beyond him ...
Randy: Dark Lightdrgaellon on June 19th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Alternate theory: someone from Mr. Rudd's opposition has pressured Mr. Grech into perjuring himself. Hence the nerves and the lack of supporting documentation.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:34 am (UTC)
That would normally be the default assumption, but Grech seemed to be struggling so very hard to be fair. I believe that he believes he was telling the truth, but is not wholly convinced that the materials behind this truth are themselves true. If that makes sense.

Today's news seems to suggest wider conspiracies afoot. I await developments with interest!
prone to mischieftreacle_tartlet on June 19th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
*bursts into tears* take me with you!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:35 am (UTC)
Thinking about it, though, surely Julia could win an election between the two of them?

(And I would take you!)
prone to mischief: Englishtreacle_tartlet on June 20th, 2009 09:38 am (UTC)
Oh, yay! Also, I wrote fluff without porn! Are you proud? *is versatile*
shu_shu_sleepsshu_shu_sleeps on June 19th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
I was watching some coverage of Mr Ginch's 'grilling' by Senate Estimates last night was struck by his complete incoherency and the constant use of the term ït was my understanding'..... he seems a very strange little man. But if we get stuck with Turnbull, I'll meet you at the airport!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:40 am (UTC)
He is VERY strange. But he seemed to be struggling to be sincere and just not wholly convinced that what was behind what he believed to be true was itself true.

Today's developments seem to suggest this could be the case. All so very kooky!

And yes! I'd even prefer Joe Hockey, and he is as pleasant as tinea.
jamie2109jamie2109 on June 20th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC)
I'm with you. How is Grech a credible witness when he even claims that his memories might be false...has Voldie been getting in there and planting spurious memories?

And also with you on the Turnbull thing and the Gillard thing. I think I trust her because she doesn't bow to the makeover demands. She has crap hair, she dresses badly, she speaks oddly, but I like her. I get that honesty from her that I rarely get from a pollie.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 09:03 am (UTC)
I think that he believes what he is saying, but is either mad (possible) or is not convinced that the phantom email really came from the PM's Office.

And yeah, Julia is just so generally cool. She's smart, hardworking and fearless, which is exactly what I want to see in politicians in difficult times. Add to that she's a bit boring in her personal life and she's perfect!
pir8fancier on June 20th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
Having survived eight years of George Bush et al., I am now basically immune/blase about political shenigans. Whether it's the opposition trying to make hay out of nothing or the granting of political favors on the sly. Compared to what went on in this country for eight years, it's chicken feed. NOTHING surprises me anymore.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 09:09 am (UTC)
Yeah, at least our elected officials were actually elected ...

Over here, and in the UK, things like this are interesting because it is comparatively easy to remove a Prime Minister. It's still quite the thing, but it requires little actual effort, there are many legislative paths in place for such an action.

But yes, this is a lovely small saga that will see no one die, hurrah!
boodiedharawal on June 20th, 2009 04:37 am (UTC)
In my dim dim dim distant past when I was another person, I was 'involved' with the aforementioned Mr Turnball in ways I shall not elucidate, back when he was a nice man, oh my how you have changed Malcolm, and people called Keating a lizard.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 09:10 am (UTC)
We did a story on him at one of my old mags that basically charted his history: bullying schoolboy, charismatic uni student, competent lawyer, bullying parliamentarian.

I suppose it's true and Canberra really is just a giant schoolyard.
boodiedharawal on June 20th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
ahh yes, he was rather charismatic, I would have to say that about Malcolm.

george pushdragonpushdragon on June 20th, 2009 07:21 am (UTC)
... and Grech's evidence always begins with "it was my impression that ...". He can't repeat what exactly was said to him, all he remembers is his "impression" of what the PM and/or the treasurer's office encouraged him to do. So yes, his recollection ain't worth much.

If only he were being examined by a barrister instead of Liberal parliamentarians - any lawyer (and any idiot of any profession) knows the difference between having an "impression" and having an actual memory of a conversation.

I like Turnbull. You might say he doesn't believe in anything, but at least that makes him a pragmatist who has no right wing religious agenda to impose, and Not Being Tony Abbott is a shining virtue.

Also, I'm coming to your neck of the woods again soon, 3 July to 7 or 8 July. Details still hazy but I hope there will be time for a drink or dinner.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:03 am (UTC)
Not being Tony Abbott is a great virtue, I agree, but Malcolm started off well with me and has gone downhill ever since. Just too much of the smug bully boy, which reportedly stems back to his schooldays. I suppose that is an essential in some ways, to mix such qualities with a job like that, but I prefer dull pollies like Rudd and Barry O'Farrell.

And yes, everything about that testimony was weird. I was left thinking that the only plausible explanation was that he was sincere in saying that he had received a communication along the lines of the one he described, but that he was not wholly convinced that such communication wasn't itself a fraud. Today seems to be reinforcing the likelihood of this possibility.

And I have been tossing up whether or not I want to go to Melbourne that weekend, obviously, the answer is not! Drink or dinner it is!
george pushdragonpushdragon on June 21st, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Oh no! I want you to come to Melbourne, and I know Mer would love to see you before she heads off to Azkatraz. Although if we catch up *after*, there will be photos and gossip ....

I do find myself groaning "Oh, shut up Malcolm!" at the TV when he's getting all strident and appalled - and yes, the smug is unpalatable.

My political solution post-Kevin is for Mary and Frederik to bring their royalness back to Australia. He can be king of me any day.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 21st, 2009 09:32 am (UTC)
That would make me very happy, too! They're dignified, amusing, and capable, and have all their own hair, unlike Charles and Wills.

There's no point me going to Melbourne that weekend if you are in Sydney! And I would be mostly dragged along to other events I am not sure I want to go to, aside from seeing a few friends I miss.

Post-con Melbourne meeting would have benefits, you're right ...
not_an_elf on June 21st, 2009 09:14 am (UTC)
Did you see the extended footage they had this morning on insiders?
Grech got overridden about 20 times by the senator who accompanied him (sorry, can't remember the name). They were really reasonable questions too.
Grech even makes a comment about the terrible situation he's being put in. For mine, his stuttering and inconsistency is stress, not strangeness.

Poor bugger.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 21st, 2009 09:29 am (UTC)
I thought it was David Martine, from Treasury, who was doing most of the over-riding.

And yeah, he is obviously very stressed, but I think he also believes there is something really strange about the email he received (and I do believe he's telling the truth as he knows it, as I comment above.) I stand by the fact he's strange, though, he's in Treasury, they're all odd.

Didn't wake up for Insiders (of course;-) but I have read some transcripts, increasingly it looks as though Swan has a case to answer but that the case against the PM has been manufactured, which would make Grech as much of a victim as the PM.

Which leads me to wonder if Mr Martine may not have been trying to protect his staff member, since Mr Grech would have been digging his own grave to point out that there seemed to be irregularities in the irregularity he was reporting.

Alternatively, he could just be a bullying thug and poor old Godwin quaking in his boots. I await developments!