We asked the question yesterday: who was the security guard who leaked John Howard’s 1980 Budget to Laurie Oakes? And some most interesting speculation is coming in. An observer writes:

The security guard was employed by a very senior poitician, who sent him off to pick up two copies of the papers from the printers. When he got there, he was given three copies. It’s worth checking what he was doing beforehand: on the booze with Oakes cameraman Phil Lorant at the Statesman, who knew – as soon as the security officer returned, wondering what he was going to do with the spare copy – exactly who should be given the papers…

A recent political player has a different take. He writes:

A very senior colleague of Oakes once told me that Oakes’s two biggest scoops both came direct from John Howard:

  • the 1980 budget
  • the 2001 Shane Stone “mean and tricky” memo

The rationale was that Howard hated the budget (which was forced on him by Fraser) and wished to wreck it, and in 2001 he needed a circuit breaker to explain the massive backflips and spending he unveiled in the 2001 Budget – and in the process dump the blame on Costello.

Oakes of course insists that he was left the budget anonymously in his letterbox, but it has always been accepted by all sides this was a device to protect Oakes and his source from inquiries by Federal Police.

We’re waiting (but not that optimistically) for Laurie Oakes to respond to our email request for a response to our story. Meanwhile, we’re having trouble tracking down the key figure in all this, Phil Lorant. Anyone who knows his whereabouts, indeed if he’s still alive, should email [email protected]