There’s no real news in this week’s Bulletin report on Queensland Liberal sleaze — at least not for Crikey readers.
Local party insiders are surprised that the antics of Klan Khemlani didn’t rate a mention. They feel journo Chris Hammer seemed to end up feeling sorry for Gary “W-nker” Hardgrave, one of the three Queensland MHRs under investigation by the AFP — despite his jaunt to Taiwan earlier this year on a free trip with girlfriend and former private secretary Lorraine Ralph.
Last week the rumour mill suggested the three — Hardgrave, Ross Vasta and Andrew Laming — were off the hook.
That theory received a boost when Laming enjoyed a dinner at The Lodge with the PM — only for news to break of further raids.
However, last week the Courier Mail revealed the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity would investigate Prime Minister John Howard’s prior knowledge of federal police raids on Liberal MPs.
Channel 9 also reported the printer at the centre of the allegations, Willprint Printers, was raided, and had handed documents to police. It said the police had a warrant that involved others, including a senior Queensland Liberal official, five Liberal candidates in last year’s state election and members of the staff of MP Andrew Laming.
Canberra corridor talk and Queensland goss tend to give Vasta and Hardgrave the benefit of the doubt. When it comes to Laming, however, it goes off the Richter scale — and strays into whole new ground.
No doubt, the truth will out, but if the news is bad it will be a devastating blow to the Liberal Party in a state that could already cost it the election.