Straight reporting in City News

Peter Hackney, editor, City News, writes: Re. “CloMo threatens to sue Sydney rag” (yesterday). I contacted the lord mayor’s media team and advised them I had questions concerning Surry Hills resident Luke Harper and allegations on his part of unprofessionalism during the assessment of his DA. I stated these questions via email. Specifically, they related to why a briefing note from Clover Moore’s office about the DA included unrelated information, such as Harper’s perceived opposition to the Bourke Stret cycleway. A spokesperson responded to my questions, and I reported accordingly. I believe I wrote a fair, balanced piece that presented both sides of the story.

I did not specifically ask the lord mayor, “Mr Harper believes you are corrupt — are you?” but it was implicit in my questions that Harper felt due process was corrupted. There was no allegation at any stage of corruption of a financial nature. Harper’s belief is that due process was corrupted. As we live in a free and open society, this is his prerogative.

I do not personally believe the lord mayor is corrupt, and I respect and admire Clover Moore in many ways. However, I was writing a news report, not an op-ed, and deemed my personal feelings irrelevant.

It is unfortunate that the lord mayor, or at least her advisers, have taken a stand against impartiality in this instance. I will continue to report on matters relating to Moore, Harper, the City of Sydney and anything else in a fair, balanced and impartial manner, irrespective of threats or legal action. As editor of City News, I take pride in our publication’s record of reporting the news without fear or favour.

Department response

The NT Department of Children and Families writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday). Yesterday Crikey reported claims from one local clinic worker on child protection services in the Northern Territory. The Department of Children and Families responds:

“In the Northern Territory any person who believes that a child is being, or has been, abused or neglected is required by law to report their concerns. To receive these reports the Department of Children and Families operates a 24-hour Child Protection Hotline (free-call phone number 1800 700 250).

“Every call to this hotline is assessed by professional staff who use their professional judgement, supported by structured decision making tools, to determine if the concerns raised by the caller indicate that a child may be in need of protection. Where there are concerns that a child may be in need of protection as defined by the Care and Protection of Children Act, details of notifications are provided to the relevant service centres to enable a thorough child protection investigation to occur. Staff are required to provide notifiers with the outcome of their assessment and advise whether a child protection investigation will be occurring.

“If a notifier is unsatisfied with the outcome they are able to contact the complaints hotline. All complaints are treated seriously and enable the original decision making of the staff member to be reviewed and where appropriate overturned.”

What is it about Labo(u)r?

Peter Millier writes: Re. “Rundle: four days in, and Labor is already at odds” (yesterday). I enjoyed Guy Rundle’s article — indeed his commentary on the elections contrasting Labor and Coalition behaviour, both collectively and individually, was spot on.

He reminded me of a comment made by Tom Scott, journalist and cartoonist in NZ in the time of PM Robert Muldoon, comparing the behaviour of the National and Labour parties.

He suggested that when the Nationals went into caucus on a contentious issue they would send out for the plasma and the priests, then emerge after several hours to insist everything was just fine.

Tom contrasted this with the behaviour of Labour Party members, whom he said would emerge from caucus and hold 40 different press conferences!

I wonder if there is something in the Labo(u)r DNA.

Keep up the good work, Crikey. I just love First Dog.