Last week Tasmanian Premier Paul
Lennon was complaining vociferously about a smear campaign against him.
Now it appears that Lennon has his own dirty tricks department,
masterminded by none other than his chief-of-staff, former Launceston Examiner editor Rod Scott, apparently aided and abetted by Michael Aird, Government Leader in the Legislative Council.

The plot begins with Mercury
columnist Greg Barns, who wrote on Monday that the Greens were hiding
bags of loot in a company called Tasmanian Greens Pty Ltd, which has
Greens leader Peg Putt and Greens MHA Tim Morris as shareholders. Barns
suggested the company had some $750,000 in the kitty, the source of
which was secret. Saucy stuff indeed, especially as the Greens are
great advocates of public disclosure of political donations.

Then,
on the same day, media outlets in Tasmania were faxed an anonymous
four-page document on the issue, with nine questions for journalists to
put to the Greens. And it so happened that an electronic version,
circulated in select circles, arrived in the computer of Wes Young –
who worked as an Examiner cadet last year and now works for the Greens during the current state election campaign.

The
thing is, young Wes knows a thing or two about computers. So when he
did a bit of techno back-tracking he discovered some interesting facts,
which he reveals on tasmaniantimes.com
today. To his surprise, he found “that this particular edition of Word
was licensed to the Department of Premier and Cabinet and that last
touch was from one Mr Rod Scott, the Premier’s Chief-of-Staff.”
Moreover, the anonymous four-page fax, which was an attachment, was
headed: Greens Electoral Disclosure – Aird (2) doc.

Crikey
called Michael Aird this morning, leaving a message with his answering
service, asking him to ring back. No luck. We then rang Rod Scott, but
his secretary referred us to Matthew Rogers, Lennon’s media attack dog.
Rogers was at a media conference and said he would ring back. Again no
luck.

Crikey rang Greg Barns to ask if the story about the
Greens secret stash was true. Barns snorted: “I’m a columnist, I write
opinion pieces, I rarely get in touch with anyone. If I am wrong, they
(people he writes about) can tell me or write a letter to the editor.”
Barns added that there might be a perfectly legitimate explanation for
the money, but the Greens hadn’t denied they had it.

Crikey then
rang the Greens media adviser Cath Hughes, who said there was indeed a
legitimate reason for the money. The Tasmanian Greens were registered
as a company, as required under state law, and therefore audited.
Hughes said the $750,000 was over a three-year period and covered all
fundraising activities, a 5% tithe of salaries of members of the
Tasmanian parliament, a 10% tithe of Senate salaries, and all the
myriad donations under $1500.

So just when Lennon has been
cleared of allegations that he helped his brother’s company, Global
Value Management, get government contracts, he’s back in the thick of
it, dishing it out. And it hardly needs saying that the Tasmanian
Greens are in the Government’s sights, not the Liberals.

Peter Fray

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