You didn’t have to be a journo to have
smelt a rat when Brendan Nelson first announced that Jacob Kovco had
been shot while performing maintenance on his pistol. According to
Macquarie Radio’s roving reporter Jason
Morrison the whole thing “reeked of
a cover-up” from the outset.

On Wednesday night Morrison and an ABC-TV cameraman stuck
around at Melbourne
Airport and were able to scrape
together a fairly decent scoop when it emerged that the return of Pvt Kovco’s
body had been delayed and then bewildered family and friends confirmed the bungle over
the wrong body being sent.

“Everyone else had gone home,” Morrison told
Crikey. “I stuck around with ABC cameraman Chris Keane and managed to
confirm it with friends of the family as they left the terminal. Chris got the
shots that featured on everyone’s news.

“We got the feeling there was something
going on when we got some fairly aggressive behaviour from army guys who were
trying to heavy us away from the family. That’s really when alarm bells started
ringing.

“After we went to air with it at 3am – the so-called 24hr defence media hotline
which all night had been going to voicemail – started to get answered.”

Morrison said Defence’s “silent” spokesman was telling overnight TV and radio
reporters from other stations that his news story was a beat up and the real
story was far less sensational. “An hour or two later – approximately 5am – Defence Minister Brendan Nelson had
issued a statement on the situation effectively confirming the report,”
Morrison said. “I’m still waiting for someone from defence media to return my
calls.”

When Crikey contacted Defence PR today, we
were told the lines “may have been busy, but they certainly weren’t
unattended”, the friendly operative even admitting that the issue of having a
new system in place to catch unanswered calls had been raised.