The Press Gallery’s Sphere of Influence has responded to our challenge. We asked him who leaked him John Howard’s 1980 Budget, and if it was a security guard working for a prominent politician who passed the budget to his then cameraman, Phil Lorant:
“Hugo, I make no comment on the security guard story, except to say that I hope the rest of the Old Parliament House history project is more accurate. I do, however, question your description of me as a ‘tyro’ political correspondent in 1980. By then I had spent 11 years in the Press Gallery, nine of them as the Bureau Chief for the largest circulation daily in the country, the Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial. And I had broken several better stories than the budget yarn. Yours, Laurie Oakes.”
CRIKEY: We’ll take that as a “maybe”. It’s certainly not a denial. The nub of our story is that it was Lorant, not Oakes, who did the hard work in the pub to obtain the documents. An interesting message from Laurie, as he distances himself ever-so-slightly from the Budget scoop as the crowning glory of his career.