Jun 27, 2012

Behind a beat-up: Joe goes all the way with Ray on school sweets

A yarn too good to be true -- involving school kids visiting Parliament House to be deprived of bottled water and fruit sweets -- turned out to be exactly that, but it didn't stop Ray Hadley and Joe Hockey was attacking Wayne Swan.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

It was a cracking yarn -- school kids visiting Parliament House to be deprived of bottled water and fruit sweets under government-driven efficiency measures across the Public Service. The Daily Telegraph went hard with it on Monday, with Steve Lewis' story on page one. The only problem was that it was completely wrong. It might have been correct if Lewis' yarn had been published last Friday. Last Thursday, Clerk of the House of Representatives Bernard Wright wrote to all MPs outlining a series of savings proposals to achieve savings of $550,000 in 2012-13 to meet the government's efficiency dividend. The measures included backbenchers missing out on newspapers, cutting back on advertising, some combination of staffing positions -- and the cuts to the school hospitality program. That would save $85,000 next year and $235,000 a year thereafter. But on Friday at lunchtime, Wright emailed members of the Reps Appropriations and Administration Committee to say that, after feedback, the schools hospitality program would not be cut for now, but would be reviewed. Crikey understands Lewis sought a response from the government on Sunday while preparing the yarn, and was told to check with the officials concerned. Whether he did or not, the yarn went ahead, targeting Wayne Swan, whose office wasn't contacted for comment. Yesterday the Telegraph ran a page five item admitting that Monday's story was wrong and claiming it was unaware of the Friday email from Wright. Lewis' yarn was updated online. Other News Ltd outlets that ran the yarn did not run the correction. Yesterday, coincidentally, Essential Research released polling showing that the Telegraph for the second year running has the lowest trust of any major metro title. But where the story took on a life of its own was when Ray Hadley picked the yarn up and ran with it on 2GB and took Joe Hockey along with him. Unlike Lewis, Hadley and his producers didn't even try to check the story. And by the time Hadley was on air, Swan's office had issued a media release stating that the story was wrong and criticising Lewis. Hadley tells Hockey "I’m just absolutely flabbergasted that someone in high office like Deputy Prime Minister would be on the attack and saying a whole range of things about News Limited and about you when in fact it’s all there in black and white that they are." Hockey -- whose office hasn't issued a transcript from the interview -- agrees heartily: "I don't want you to be surprised that Wayne Swan is telling a fib. Because frankly, he’s done it so often now’s another case." But then Ray begs to differ with Joe.
"In this particular case what concerns me more than the fact that you think he’s lying. I don't think he’s lying I just think he’s a complete boofhead that didn't know what was happening. He’s gone off half-cocked and sent out this media release saying, you know saying this is disgraceful, it’s dishonest, and all the other things he said, without being advised that it’s in black and white lie I think."
Joe agrees, and explains what happened, to Ray:
"I think they’re equally stupid. The fact is the Committee of the Appropriations for the House which has a Liberal on it, the Whip, Nola Marino. She attended a meeting on Wednesday where they were informed they were going to cut this and then it was confirmed in a letter that went out on Thursday. Now not all members got it, but she certainly did and a number of others, including some on the Labor Party side got the letter and now once it appears in the papers, Wayne Swan as you point out rightly, has just gone out there and called us all liars."
It's interesting that Hockey mentions Nola Marino. Because Marino received the email from Wright on Friday saying the school hospitality program wouldn't be cut.

So Hockey knew enough about the proposal to know that Marino received advice on it on Thursday but not that she had been told it was not proceeding on Friday. Did her office mislead Hockey's office? Or was it simply too good an opportunity for Hockey to pass up? LNP member Ewen Jones knew as well. Hadley continues to claim that Swan's office had got it wrong. Hockey insists they're deliberately lying and tries to link it to Swan's economic management:
"It happens regularly, Ray. This isn’t a one-off. It’s just that you’ve correctly picked up on it and, but it’s happened on a number of occasions. This is the guy that’s the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer of Australia. He wonders why there’s no consumer confidence or business confidence out there. He’s the one that is in charge of the Government accounts, in charge of the economy how can you believe him at his word? This is a fundamental point."
Indeed. Crikey understand Hadley and his producers have rejected calls from the government for a correction. But, curiously, the link to the audio of the discussion has been removed on the 2GB site. Google Cache has a copy of the page, but for some reason 2GB no longer wants us to hear Ray and Joe repeatedly attacking Wayne Swan as a boofhead and liar when both are completely wrong. Update: the audio can still be found in the "highlights package" for Ray Hadley for Monday here, about 8 minutes in.

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17 thoughts on “Behind a beat-up: Joe goes all the way with Ray on school sweets

  1. Merve

    Beat ups. Where would the Ray Hadley’s of the world be without them.

  2. Mark from Melbourne

    Yes, when we question the drop off in respect for public office one has to consider people like Hadley’s role in it. The people who argue that it isnt the media’s fault (usually the media saying that btw) should have a bit more of a think about that.

    And of course there is little that appears we can do about it apart from remove their oxygen but unfortunately there are enough people out there that just love this sort of rubbish. Hadley would never apologise, nor will Lewis or News or Hockey.

  3. The Pav

    Given the propensity of people like Hadley to call the Govt liars falsely it would be nice if they were called to account and sued for the slander.

    maybe a few expensive payouts might encourage them to check first before falsely accusing peole.

    As to Hockey’s statement that it is now wonder confidence is low because th the trasurer lies I would hope that he retracts and apologise.

    Perhaops the real reason confidence & respect are low is becasue of what is now unfailingly poor conduct by the opposition beyond what may be considered reasonable in the rough & tumble of politics.

    The oppostion is both free of decency and policies

  4. Recalcitrant.Rick

    And strangely, isn’t the Government doing what hopeless hockey is saying he’s going to do in spades? that is “Cut Government Spending” so when he does it it will be ok! Hypocrites and D*ckheads, all of them!

  5. Sharkie

    As of today, Steve Lewis would never ever get a job at Fairfax. He is a complete clown and an embarrassment to the journalism profession. The scary thing is, if Rinehart gets her way and gets editorial control, the likes of Lewis would be welcomed to the SMH or Age with open arms and given a promotion.
    Lewis isn’t even a skidmark on the undies of a real journo, and democracy is in serious trouble if his garbage doesn’t go unchallenged.

  6. drmick

    The ex taxi driver is a joke a boof head and a reflection of the sewer he and the bobbie fancier have cultivated. Loud opinionated rubbish repeated often enough so that most of their audience who cant read or write get the benefit of the talking fish wrap version of the Tele.

  7. Edward James

    My lack of respect for public office is based on my own first hand experience! Edward James

  8. zut alors

    Looks like Swan was out-boofheaded by a pair of champions with natural talent.

  9. John Newton

    Not much point in taking them to ACMA

  10. Pedantic, Balwyn

    It strikes me that Abbott and his ministers are happy to rewrite events to suit their political narrative irregardless of the true facts. Another example is George Brandis, Shadow Attorney General, claiming on Q & A that no refugee had drowned after the Howard Government introduced their inhumane Pacific Solution in August 2001. Tony Jones reminded him that some 350 people drowned when the Siev X foundered, but Brandis denied this was after the Howard policy was implemented, though it was in October 2001 and clearly the solution was no deterrent for those poor souls.
    So Brandis is either inept by denying an event that as a potential A-G he should clearly remember in detail or merely following the line that say anything, any time to suit the Oppositions argument, however lacking in fact it maybe!

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