There’s an awful lot of twaddle doing the rounds with the Ozcar thing – but this takes the cake. Over at The Oz, Glenn Milne and his “sources” would have us believe that the infamous exchange between the PM’s advisor Andrew Charlton and Malcolm Turnbull actually went something like this:
According to colleagues briefed on the Opposition Leader’s version of his conversation with Andrew Charlton at last week’s press gallery Midwinter Ball, it was Charlton — not Turnbull — who raised his own role.
The two men were seated next to each other at the ball. After talking about a mutual friend, Turnbull says he gave the generic career advice as “one old man to one young man; always tell the truth”.
According to Turnbull’s version of events it was Charlton who admitted to worrying about the advice he had given Kevin Rudd.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Charlton was “clearly anxious and stressed” but concluded he had given the Prime Minister the correct advice on OzCar.
Rudd instructed his staff to use a BlackBerry to get a picture of Charlton and Turnbull talking. After the ball, Charlton issued a statement saying he had been threatened and bullied by Turnbull, who had warned him not to lie over the affair.
According to Charlton it was Turnbull who first raised OzCar.
No, no – I shit you not – this really is being passed off seriously!
So let’s go through the primary political timeline here. On June 4th, Malcolm Turnbull at 2:10pm in Question Time asked:
My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to the standards of ministerial ethics and I note that the Prime Minister’s register of interests states that he has been given a free car complete with registration, insurance and RACQ membership by a Mr John Grant of John Grant Motors. Has the Prime Minister, his office or anyone on his behalf made representations on behalf of Ipswich Central Motors, John Grant Motors or any other car dealership owned by or associated with John
Grant to OzCar, the taxpayer funded special purpose vehicle managed by the Treasury and set up to provide finance to car dealers?
He then goes on to ask another 5 questions – at 2:24pm, 2:33pm, 2:41pm, 2:53pm and 3:30 pm – about Ozcar, John Grant and if there were any representations made by Treasury and PMO over this. The question at 2:41pm on June 4th is particularly interesting, since it suggests that the issues that came out with the mysterious email were long planned as a political attack.
Mr Speaker, I refer to the Treasurer’s previous answer in which he confirmed that his office had made a representation to OzCar on
behalf of Mr John Grant’s car dealership. I ask the Treasurer: were there any discussions or communications regarding Mr John Grant’s interest in seeking finance from OzCar between himself and the Prime Minister or between their respective offices?
This question you’ll note, is not only about Ozcar, but about communications between the offices of Swan and Rudd over Ozcar and John Grant. Turnbull was obviously in the middle of a political ploy here, asking 6 questions about Ozcar and the who did what, when on the process side.
Let’s jump ahead to the next sitting day, which was June 15th. On that day, Turnbull asked another 2 questions over Ozcar and whether Rudd or Swan made representations on behalf of John Grant. It was on the 15th of June that Turnbull attempted to set the ground for Rudd misleading Parliament by asking:
Thank you, Mr Speaker, I will start again. I refer the Prime Minister to Mr John Grant, who has supplied him with a free car for almost all of the time he has been Leader of the Labor Party, and to the Prime Minister’s answer in question time on 4 June where he most indignantly denied that he or his office had spoken to Mr Grant in relation to OzCar, the taxpayer funded finance company, or had made any representations on behalf of Mr Grant. Does the Prime Minister stand by this denial?
Blind Freddy could see that Turnbull was attempting to confirm on the record the PMs denial.
By the 16th of June, everyone knew what Turnbull was up to here with his Ozcar tactic, as Swan’s remark to an unrelated question attests:
Of course, then there is the campaign from those opposite against OzCar and the efforts of this government to ensure a flow of finance to car dealers.
On the 17th June – the day of the Mid Winter Ball, just hours before the Charlton/Turnbull exchange happened – Truffles stood up in Question Time at 2:21pm and asked the following:
My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I refer the Treasurer to his remarks in the House on 4 June where he told us that Treasury officials would be free to appear before a Senate committee to answer any questions about representations made in relation to the OzCar finance scheme. As the Treasurer said: “… go for your life …”
Will the Treasurer reaffirm to this House that there will be no attempt to prevent any official appearing before Friday’s Senate inquiry and will he provide promptly to senators any and all documentation casting light on the nature of the representations made by ministers or their officers on behalf of Mr John Grant, the Queensland car dealer who provides a free car to the Prime Minister?
Turnbull tells all and sundry that there will be a concerted attack in the Senate Committee on the coming Friday over the behaviour of the offices of Swan and Rudd and any respective representations they made to Ozcar on behalf of John Grant.
Just hours later, Glenn Milne and his sources would have us believe that Andrew Charlton – Doctor, author, PM’s economic advisor and Rhodes Scholar, a bloke that can obviously tie his own shoe laces – in an act of profound stupidity and political suicide, confessed to Malcolm Turnbull that he was worried about the advice he’d given to his boss, the Prime Minister, over the very issue that all and sundry knew was supposed to explode at the Senate Committee in 40 hours time!
Milne and his sources are alleging that one of the smartest blokes around was so stupid that he voluntarily gave Malcolm Turnbull the nod that his political strategy to bring down the PM was on the right track!!!?!
The political analysis at The Australian has been sliding down a notch or two in the quality stakes recently – but honestly, you’d have to be a lead poisoned crackhead to believe that horseshit.
On something else entirely different, this place was a little light on last week – I was ‘on the road’ so to speak, so this week we’re back to our normal programming.