Now here’s a peculiar thing. Normally one can rely on The Australian to not let a Labor Government get away with anything. Even last week, long after it had been shown that its journalists badly overplayed their story about the Reserve Bank’s (non-existent) opposition to the bank deposit guarantee on 12 October, commentators in The Oz were still referring to it.

But there’s a real story, a cracker broken by Matt Franklin two weeks ago, that The Oz has been very quiet about since. Why has there been so little in its pages about Kevin Rudd’s appalling lapse in revealing the contents of his phone call with President Bush? Even Glenn Milne, who these days seems more or less to work purely as a Coalition press secretary, only ran with the story (once) in the Sunday Telegraph.

Some conjecture that this strange silence reflects the presence of Chris Mitchell, editor in chief of The Australian, and father of Rudd’s godson, at Kirribilli on the night in question. Could Mitchell have been embarrassed by the coincidence of his proximity to events and the leak fed to Franklin? Surely not. Could friend Kevin have been outraged at the original disclosure and the possibility of a significant breach of confidence? Who knows. But one cannot believe that the editor of the national broadsheet would let personal relationships get in the way of an important story, particularly one that plays directly to News Ltd’s political agenda. Why no follow up? Why no subsequent revelations?

There can be no doubting the damage done to our reputation, and this at a time when Australia will seek to craft a relationship with a new US administration, an administration that perhaps knows little more of the Australian PM than that he is a loose lipped braggart.

Surely grist to the national broadsheets mill. So, the question remains — why the uncustomary torpor from The Australian?  

Peter Fray

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