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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.
(no subject) - rubyemerald_1 on June 20th, 2009 12:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
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 …)
(no subject) - old_enough on June 19th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 19th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - old_enough on June 19th, 2009 04:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 19th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - drgaellon on June 19th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - azurelunatic on June 19th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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!
(no subject) - autumn_veela on June 19th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
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?
drgaellon on June 19th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
GTMA (see my comment below yours).
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 20th, 2009 08:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
drgaellon 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!)
(no subject) - treacle_tartlet on June 20th, 2009 09:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
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.
(no subject) - dharawal on June 20th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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!
(no subject) - pushdragon on June 21st, 2009 02:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 21st, 2009 09:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
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!